Page:The Hessians and the other German auxiliaries of Great Britain in the revolutionary war.djvu/14

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THE HESSIANS.

that they carried on, selling or letting out wares which were much in demand in that century, as in all centuries, for the Landgraves of Hesse-Cassel were dealers in men; thus it came to pass that Landgrave Frederick II. and his subjects played a part in American history, and that "Hessian" became a household word, though not a title of honor, in the United States.

The Landgraves were not particular as to their market or their customers. In 1687 one of them let out a thousand soldiers to the Venetians fighting against the Turks. In 1702 nine thousand Hessians served under the maritime powers, and in 1706 eleven thousand five hundred men were in Italy. England was the best customer. Through a large part of the eighteenth century she had Hessians in her pay. Some of them were with the army of the Duke of Cumberland during the Pretender's invasion in 1745; but it is stated that they refused to fight in that campaign for want of a cartel for the exchange of prisoners.[1] It would have been well for many of them had they declined to go to America for the same reason. So little was it a matter of patriotism, or of political preference, with the Landgraves, that in 1743 Hessian stood against Hessian, six thousand men serving in the army of King George II. of England, and six thousand in the opposing force of the Emperor Charles VII.

The Landgraves of Hesse were not the only princes who dealt in troops. In the war of the American Revolution alone, six German rulers let out their soldiers to Great Britain. These were Frederick II.,

  1. Letter of Sir Joseph Yorke to the Earl of Suffolk, quoted in Kapp's "Soldatenhandel," 1st ed. p. 229.