1775 - 1776
The Armies of King George III


The events that led to Hessian troops entering into the war in America began on the 23rd of August, 1775. Based on events leading up to the previous June, the British government issued a proclamation for the suppression of the rebellion. The reaction to this proclamation reached King George III on October 11th in the form of petitions from various groups. Although the petitions supported the proclamation, even suggesting more stringent measures be adopted, they denounced the rumored proposal for the employment of foreign soldiers against the Americans.

King George III addressed Parliament on October 26th to express his determination to act decisively against the general rebellion of the American colonies. He informed Parliament of his intension to increase the naval and land forces directed to restoring royal rule as well as implied that foreign troops may be part of this force. However, the King did propose the appointment of commissioners to find a peaceful settlement to the uprising. This was followed on November 22nd with Lord North's introduction of a bill that would cut off all trade with the colonies and place the country under martial law until order was restored. Encouraged by the Kings willingness to attempt a peaceful solution, North's bill would also appoint resident commissioners to support a peace effort. The bill passed by a majority and became law on December 21st.

In response to the King's address, the Committee of Supply proposed a navy of 80 ships with 28,000 men and a land force of 25,000 men be assigned to put down the rebellion. With the resolve to employ foreign troops, the cabinet of King George III entered into negotiations with Russia to obtain 20,000 men for use in America. When this failed, the cabinet turned to the state of Hannover, which King George III was from. They were granted the use of 5 battalions to garrison the forts of Gibraltar and Minorca, thus freeing up the garrison of English troops for duty in America. The king then wrote a letter to the States General of Holland for the use of their Scotch brigade but his request was refused. A message was also sent to the Parliament of Ireland and was granted the use of 4,000 men for the American service.

Requiring additional troops for their efforts in America, the British government was compelled to send Lord George Germaine and Lord Barrington to negotiate treaties with the rulers of six of the independent states that were part of the Holy Roman Empire. These were Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel; William, the independent Count of Hesse-Hanau; Charles I, Duke of Brunswick; Frederick, Prince of Waldeck; Charles Alexander, Margrave of Anspach-Bayreuth ; and Frederick Augustus, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst.

On 9 January 1776 the first treaty was made with the Duke of Brunswick and was similar to the other treaties. The Duke was to supply a corps completely equipped, except for the horses for the light cavalry. This also included furnishing necessary annual replacements, needed due to desertion or died of illness, that were properly trained and equipped. It was agreed upon that the soldiers would receive pay and be fed the same as the British soldiers. The Brunswick soldiers were to be cared for in the British hospitals and the wounded that were no longer fit for service were to be transported back to Europe at the expense of the King. In the treaty the King was responsible for preventing desertion and bearing the expense of reestablishing any regiment, battalion, or company that sustained any losses in battle or by the loss of any transport vessel in the voyage to America. The King agreed to pay a daily rate for every soldier plus an annual subsidy from the day of the signature of the treaty. This annual subsidy was to be doubled for two years after the return of the troops. In consideration of the haste with which the troops were equipped the King would provide two months pay previous to their march.

The Treaty with Hesse-Kassel, dated January 15, 1776, that Sir William Faucitt and Baron Martin Ernest de Schlieffen put together differed from the other treaties by being more favorable to the Landgrave. The most noticeable difference was the King agreed to a defensive alliance with the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. The Landgrave received more than twice as much per man as the Duke of Brunswick but the rate at which the King was to pay for every man was the same as was to be paid the Duke. What made the difference in pay was the Landgrave made some special deals for various smaller units. The King would also pay a larger subsidy although the subsidy would continued for only one year after the actual return of the troops to Hessen and would not be doubled. An additional difference was the Hessian troops were to be kept together under their own general, unless the tactical situation required them to be separated, and the wounded were to remain in the care of the Hessian surgeons. The Landgrave was to furnish 4 grenadier battalions, 15 infantry battalions and 2 Jäger companies in 2 divisions, for a total of 12,000 completely equipped men.

On February 29th, Lord North moved that the treaties be referred to the Committee of Supply. The point Lord North used was the treaties would be the fastest way to supply troops for use in America, recruiting and training new British troops would take time. The $775,000 that England would pay for the foreign troops was also much cheaper than recruiting troops at home as the Landgraves would brunt the cost of training and would supply troops that were completely equipped. And, as the war in America was not a favorable one with the people of Britain, fewer British soldiers would be put in harms way to maintain control over the colonies in America. Lord North's proposal was received with sharp debate in the House of Commons.


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