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Hessian Deserters

During the American revolution colonists offered German Mercenaries up to 50 acres of land to desert. Many young men choose not to return to Germany preferring to risk being shot as a deserter. Over 4,800 of the 30,000 German soldiers stayed in the colonies. They typically migrated toward other German speaking communities in American.

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Check with HETRINA

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

If you can't find your German ancestor that was in the 1820 census but no passenger records in Philadelphia or the Carolinas you might check with HETRINA.  This abreviation is for Hessische Truppen im Amerikanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg. 

Many Hessian deserters remained as farmers and married into German-speaking farming families. Even during the Revolution War they settled down to farm without much harrassment. The ones that deserted in the last months of the war  were considered immigrants and integrated into the German-speaking community.

HETRINA is a compilation of the names of soldiers by Dr. Inge Auerbach of the Staatsarchiv (State Archives) in Marburg (Hessen) Germany. The soldiers' names were drawn from the "mass und rangierliste" (the regiment lists from 1776 and 1785) and the regiment monthly reports of personnel changes. The information included gives the soldier's name, town, approximate year of birth, rank, regiment, date and type of event. As an example, if the soldier deserted, this would be indicated along with the date of the desertion. The first 4 volumes (organized by regiment) provide the names of the Hessen-Cassel regiments, volume 5, the Waldeck troops and volume 6, those of Hessen-Hanau. The HETRINA series (on microfilm) can be accessed through one of the LDS Family History Centers.

Bd. 1-2 FHL US/CAN Film 1320516 Items 6-7

Bd. 3-5 FHL US/CAN Film 1320542 Items 5-6

Major Desertions

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania USA

At the Valley Forge national monument I found the following information "Major desertions took place during the evacuation of Philadelphia and during the march across NJ in June, 1778; on Cornwallis' march north to Virginia in the Spring and Summer of 1781; at Savannah GA and Charleston SC prior to the evacuation by the British in 1782; from the Convention Army as it moved from Saratoga to Boston to Virginia in 1777-1779; from Frederick MD between 1782 and May 1783; from POW facilities at Lancaster, PA and Winchester, VA; and in the vicinity of Manhattan and Long Island during the period from 1776 to Nov. 1783. The British purchased the services of 30,000 German Soldiers for $150,000, all of which went into the royal coffers of the German princes. These troops came from Hesse Cassel, Hesse Hanau, Brunswick, Anspach, Bayreuth, Anhalt Zerbst and Waldeck.

Place                 Number sent     Number not returned home

Hesse Cassel         16,992             6,500

Hesse Hannau         2,422             981

Brunswick                5,723           3,015

Anspach - Bayreuth 2,553             1,178

Anhalt Zerbst           1,152                168

Waldeck                 1,225                  720

Total sent was 30,067 from 1776 to 1782; 12,562 did not return... 7,754 dead and 4,808 remained in America...

Hesse Cassel Soldiers

Salt Lake City Utah, USA

As an example of the genealogical information available on the Hessian Soldiers,  I will explain what I was able to find. Even though there were many other German states that provided soldiers referred to as Hessians, lets just examin the largest group.

The sovereign, Landgrave Friedrich II of Hesse-Cassel was the second to agree to send troops to North America but he did provide the largest contingent of troops, more than 20,000 men. With a total population of about 300,000, the principality of Hesse- Cassel had a relatively large army at the beginning of 1776.

 

In the treaty of February 12, 1776, between Friedrich II and George III of Great Britain, 12,000 soldiers of Hesse-Cassel were to be sent to fight the British (Civil War) in North America

 

In the LDS Church Family History Library in Salt Lake City I found a printed copy of the  Hetrina Vol. 4. The call number is  943. M2mg V3.  The index showed my surname as "Helmenthal" and refered to the record of Hessian troops in Prince's own Infantry Regiment (Liebregiment).

ID 7372 Family Name = Helmenthal

First Name =

Year of birth 1756/57

Place of Origion = Ippinhausen,

Town code = D3501+ (Germany,Landgrafschaft, Hessen Kassel)

Rank= GE (Private)

Regiment = LRI (Lieb Infantrie -Regiment) Presentation = 01 (Recruited)

Presentation? = 5, 1775 Ransomed from POW status or Deserted

Source = SR (Unit Roll)

Page # = 296

ID 7373

Family Name = Helmenthal

First Name =

Year of birth 1757/58

Place of Origion = Ippinhausen,

Town code = D3501+ (Germany,Landgrafschaft, Hessen Kassel)

Rank= GE (Private)

Regiment = LRI after 1783 Prince - Successor (Erbprinz)

Presentation = 01 (Recruited)

Presentation? = 2 Recurited

Source = SR (Unit Roll)

Page # = 297

Hessen-Kassel Evangelical Church Archives

San Francisco, California USA

My next step was to get help finding these Soldiers in their home town. I found this source, but you have to read German. I used the Google translate feature which does a rough translation to English.

 

Hessen-Kassel Evangelical Church ArchivesLandeskirchearchivLessingstraße 15 A34119 Kassel http://www.ekkw.de/archiv/E-Mail ekkw.archiv@t-online.de Telephone 011 49 561 78876-0Fax 011 49 561 78876-11

There are researchers in KurHessen, Waldeck, Hessen-Kassel will help you find evangelical ancestors, IF you know the exact town they came from. Or you can search the church registers in the archives from Tuesday through Thursday, 8am until 4pm.

 

With this rough translation tool I decided to explore the town of Ippinghausen where HETRINA said the Helmenthal soldier was from.

 

Ippinghausen Microfilms

Provo, Utah, USA

Ippinghausen is west of Kassel in Hessia Germany. Since my ancestors in America were Methodist ministers, I searched for the protestant church. I found the local Evangelical Church was at Leckringhausen just north of Ippinhausen.

The LDS Family History Library microfilmed the local church records or Kirchenbbuchduplik but the earliest records were between 1808-1812.  There was a film at the Brigham Young University Family Histroy Library from the "Evangelische Kirche Wolfhagen Krist". Wolfhagen was not too far away so I checked it out with the call number FHL Intc Film 810891 Item 3 810892.  No luck finding Helmenthal's in the old german script. 

If you are going to do German geneological research you need to learn a new alphabet.

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