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jeudi 23 octobre 2014


All aboard!
From the book of Rodney Attwood, The Hessians, here are some excerpts, from page 54 to 56, that will show you how went the first trip across the Atlantic in 1776.

« The fleet left Bermerleche on 16 April, reaching Portsmouth ten days later. It sailed again on 6 May, carrying a detachment of the British Guards as well as Hessians, in the hope of reaching America for the opening of the summer campaign. Howe was instructed to await their arrival before attacking New York. But every effort made to hasten the Hessian first division to America was in vain.  The voyage proved dismal and prolonged. Weather was mixed and mostly unfavorable. A storm lasting from 26 to 30 May gave them their first taste of weather. Approaching the Banks off Newfoundland on the night of 6/7 June, they encountered a fog so thick that a man could not see his hand before his face. On all the ships, bells rang and drums beat so that the fleet would stay together. »

« The Hessians had to endure the last part of the voyage without taking on fresh water and provisions. By the end of July, the biscuits were rotting, the water foul, the beer at an end, the men had scurvy, the itch, and swollen legs. An incontrollable host of rats ate the tents, uniforms, even cartridges, and especially provisions. » p. 54

« With libations and music, but also with considerable sickness, the Hessians completed their voyage. The day after Collier’s visit they sighted Long Island, and on 12 August the weary transports anchored below Staten Island. »

The voyage of the first division lasted 119 days.

« Landing did not ease the Hessians’ sickness problems. After a week ashore some seven to eight hundred men were down with fevers, diarrhea and scurvy. And without baggage animals and carts, they exhausted themselves dragging their gear from landing beaches to camp-sites, and thence to new camp-sites on the island’s far side. Sick Hessians were lying along the whole route. The troops had turned out at four o’clock, and stood five hours in the pouring rain before the movement order was cancelled for lack of transport. It was hardly surprising the sick rolls grew. »

« The second division’s voyage was equally tedious and unpleasant. Sailing from Ritzebüttel on 9 June, they were delayed in their arrival at Portsmouth by unfavorable winds until the 20th. They sailed again on 8 July accompanied by transports carrying the 16th Dragoons and the Waldeck Regiment. »

The voyage of the Waldeck Regiment lasted 130 days.

Attwood, Rodney. The Hessians. Mercernaries from Hessen-Kassel in the America Revolution. Cambridge University Press 1980.

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