Hesse-Kassel Jäger Korps
Distaff & Camp followers

As you walk through the camps of the various Crown Forces you will find a number of women in the camps. These women did play a role in the 18th century military. Commonly known as "Necessary Women", these were generally the wives and daughters of lower ranking Officers and Non-Commissioned Officer's, and were actually carried on the unit roles. The number of Necessary Women a unit carried was determined by the individual unit Commander and generally did not exceed 6 per company in the British Army. German units traditionally allowed for 8 per company as a norm.

The Hessian forces actually had wagons assigned to the Necessary Women to carry their luggage. One wagon assigned to a Colonel's wife and family, while Junior Officers shared one wagon to every two families. Necessary Women in both the British and Hessen Army drew rations from the units quartermaster (supply officer) just as the soldiers did, although the woman would draw half rations and quarter rations for each of her children. Generally, a soldiers daily ration was to be as follows:

    1 lb. Bread or flour
    1 lb. Beef or 9 1/7 oz pork
    3/7 pt. Peas (term used for all beans, peas etc.)
    6/7 oz. Butter
    1 1/7 oz. cheese
    2 2/7 oz. flour
    1 1/7 oz. Rice
    1 1/7 oz. Oatmeal

Due to the poor logistics of fighting in America with its long supply lines over the Atlantic from England, soldiers rarely received these amounts. The Commissary General in North America recorded receiving 2,032,538 lb. of bread and flour between 1775 and 1778.

Most women supplemented what rations they received with local produce brought to camp by farmers for sale whenever their funds allowed them to do so. This may not have been that often as the cost of the rations for a soldiers family were among the deductions from a soldiers pay. This was in addition to the normal deductions a soldier had, including such things as servicing his musket or rifle and replacing buttons or buckles lost in the hustle of camp life. After all the misc. deductions (stoppages) a common soldier did well to keep 1p daily from his wages. So negative wages were not unheard of in the 18th century.

A Nessary Woman had duties to perform as part of their unit such as nursing, collecting and identifying the dead and wounded after a battle, carrying water to the soldiers on the field, as well as, laundress, assistant cooks and scullions.

If a Necessary Woman's husband or father died they only had three days to remarry or be forced from camp either to become a camp follower or return to England with the wounded. Their ability to draw rations for themselves and their family ended immediately, adding to the pressure. Although the death of her husband could also be an opportunity for a "goode wife" to marry up to a higher ranking member of the unit. This along with the infrequency of invalid ships returning to England, made this rule more the exception then the norm.

In addition to the Necessary Women, there were also women known as Camp Followers who joined with the units. As the name implies, they were women that were not on the roles of the unit but followed the camps in order to make money. They earned money performing the same duties as the Necessary Women to whoever was willing to pay. Servces ranged from the normal washing of clothes and sewing to much more personal services. Soldiers who had little money to pay the Camp Follower for their services would often used the silver buttons from their uniforms as payment.

However, unlike the Necessary Woman, a Camp Follower was not allowed to be in the camp and had to perform her functions from outside camp. This often provide to be an advantage as they would even set up small portable stills to make cheap bootleg spirits to sell to the troops.


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Frederick and the Family Tree
A Study of Family Relationships Between Royal Hesse and Great Britain

By Tom Pulley and Alexis Dekeyser

The man who would become Frederick II (Friedrich), Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, was born on 14 August 1720 to Wilhelm VIII and Dorothea Wilhelmine (Princess of Saxony-Zeitz). He was raised in a manner traditional of German royalty of that time. He received academic instruction from a private tutor (Jean Pierre de Crousaz) and later attended university in Geneva where he was personally instructed by J. von Schmerfeld and Colonel von Donop. He also received military training in the tradition of the house of Hesse.

Wilhelm VIII arranged a marriage between Frederick and Mary Hanover. She was born in 1723 to George II and Caroline of Ansbach. They were married by proxy on 8 May 1740 in London and in person on 28 June 1740 in Kassel. He became estranged from Mary in 1747 (some say due to liaisons occurring during his military service at the time). Before their separation, they would have four sons. The first died in infancy and the second would become ruler of Hesse-Hanau and then become Wilhelm IX Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel upon the death of Frederick II.

In 1749 Frederick converted to Catholicism. Some have attributed this to his desire to be King of Poland (he would later decline an offer of that throne) while others believe the switch was due to his acceptance of the effects of the Counter Reformation. Regardless of the true reason, the conversion caused him considerable difficulties in an area of Europe dominated by Calvinism. His father forced him to sign the “Assekurationsakte” which provided guarantees to the citizens of Hesse that the principality would remain Protestant. One of the more interesting restrictions of this agreement was that only one officer per regiment could be of the catholic faith. Also, Mary left Frederick and lived in Hanau with her sons. She also spent some time in Denmark and her two oldest sons would marry Danish princesses.

Frederick saw military service in the Prussian Army in the war of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War. He became Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel in 1760 (but could not rule until the conclusion of the Seven Years War because Hesse was occupied by French troops at that time). In 1763, after the Seven Years War, he reorganized the Hessian Army largely based on the Prussian model (his future Minister of State, von Jungkenn, had been adjutant in his Prussian regiment). As we well know, Frederick entered into a subsidiary treaty with Great Britain and Hesse-Kassel provided over half of the German troops sent to America during the Revolution.

Frederick was apparently a bit of a micro-manager when it came to military affairs. He took a personal interest in, or actually had the final decision of such things as: deviations from the regulation uniform, the promotion to officer from the noncommissioned ranks and requests for transfer back to Hesse. In one example, he countermanded the order of a Hessian commander who had changed the tactical order of his units. At the conclusion of the Revolution, each returning regiment was personally welcomed by Frederick.

Mary died in Hanau in 1772. Frederick married Margravine Philipine of Brandenberg-Schwedt on 10 January 1773 in Berlin. Frederick died on 31 October 1785 of an apparent stroke.

So, as far as our group is concerned, are the relationships between the rulers of Britain and Hesse of significance? It would not seem so if we look at the principal players: George III and Frederick II. Frederick was married to Mary Hanover and she was George III’s aunt. George III was, as we all know, married to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her parents were Duke Charles Louis Frederick and Elizabeth Albertin of Saxe-Hilburghausen. So Charlotte was not related to Frederick II. Given Frederick’s separation from Mary around 1750 and his conversion to Catholicism around the same time it is difficult to imagine that the tenuous relationship between George III and Frederick played a significant role in the later subsidiary treaties agreed to by the two rulers.

Chart One

The relationship between the two families starting with our Landgrave’s Father and Mother and his Wife’s parents. As you will notice he married George the 2nd’s Daughter, who was the Sister to the Prince Frederick of Wales who was King George the 3rd’s Father and never himself became King. But that is another story. So our Landgrave married George the 3rd’s Aunt, not Sister.

Chart Two

King George the 3rd married into a German family but Duchess Sophia as far as I can trace back had no connection to either the Hessian Royal family or the British Royal family. She is related to the Danish and Portuguese royal family several generations back.

To be honest I would believe that if you followed any Royal line in Europe far enough back you run into either the British Royal family and its offshoots or the Bourbons. But in this case there is no close connection on both sides. The Landgrave married Georges Aunt and that is really the only connection.