Oct

20

 My branch of the Davis clan began its American adventures through the German export trade. The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel was in the business of selling the luxury item of the 17th and 18th centuries - professionally trained soldiery. Current scholars calculate that during this period 7% of the entire population (perhaps as much as 1/4 of the males 16-45) were kept under arms and then rented out to whoever would pay for them. (For the United States today that would be slightly more than 22 million soldiers.) It was a steady trade: the British historian John Childs has done a tally that is quoted in the wikipedia article on the Hessians:

"Between 1706 and 1707, 10,000 Hessians served as a corps in Eugene of Savoy's army in Italy before moving to the Spanish Netherlands in 1708. In 1714, 6000 Hessians were rented to Sweden for its war with Russia whilst 12,000 Hessians were hired by George I of Great Britain in 1715 to combat the Jacobite Rebellion. … In the midst of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744, 6,000 Hessians were fighting with the British army in Flanders whilst another 6,000 were in the Bavarian army. By 1762, 24,000 Hessians were serving with Ferdinand of Brunswick's army in Germany."

Roughly 30,000 Hessians were sent to North America to help King George put down the rebellion. The first group (16,000) arrived in 1776 to help Clinton and Howe capture New York. They had not, as they had been told in Germany, come to the colonies for fight Indians. Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Pell's Point (Pelham) in which Clinton and Howe tried to cut off Washington's Army as it retreated from the Bronx. It did not work, and the Hessians discovered that being under British command was not particularly good for their health since the tactics used at Breed's Hill remained unchanged.

Somewhere between Pell's Point and Trenton my ancestor deserted; by 1777 he acquired title to 50 acres of yet unsurveyed "Western" land. The amount is how I know that the person recorded as "Davies" was a German and most likely a private who had run away from the Landrave's army; under the first Bounty Act American privates were offered 100 acres to enlist and Hessians 50 acres to desert.


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