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Karen Palumbo

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Blogs by Karen Palumbo

On This Day 5/11/1776
5/30/2011 6:31:53 PM

General Washington recommends using German-American troops to Congress


In a letter addressed to the President of the Congress, American General George Washington recommends raising companies of German-Americans to use against the German mercenaries anticipated to fight for Great Britain. General Washington hoped this would engender a spirit of "disaassection and dessertion" among Great Britains paid troops.

General Washington surmised that:

"If a few trusty, sensible fellows could
get with them, I should think they would
have great weight and influence with the
common Soldiery, who certainly have no
enmity towards us, having received no
Injury, nor cause of Quartell from us."

Though General Washington was correct in realizing that many so-called English colonists were actually German immigrants, he was apparantly unaware that most Germans living living in the American colonies spoke Southern German dialects, and they might well be derided by the British mercenaries, Hessians from the central German territory of Hess, if they could understand one another at all.

One third of Pennsylvania's population was German speaking. Significant German-speaking populations also lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Western Virginia and the Carolinas, as well as the Mohawk Valley of New York, the Raritan Valley of New Jersey and areas near Savannah, Georgia.

However, the vast majority of these German speakers originated from the Rhineland-Palatinate, Swabia and Salzburg. Although fellow members of the Holy Roman Empire and possibly readers of Hoch- Deutsch, the German used by Luther in his translation of the Bible, their spoken language would have been extremely difficult for Germans from other regions to understand.

In addition, many German-Americans remained neutral during the "American Revolution", unwilling to oppose the empire that had offered them the opportunity to enjoy better and freer lives in its colonies than they had at home.



(K) (HST)

George Washington American Patriot
American General
President, USA


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