A mass grave of German ‘mercenaries’ who fought for the British in the Revolutionary War discovered in New Jersey
Researchers in New Jersey believe they have found the remains of 13 soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.
They also discovered a “pristine” King George III gold guinea from 1766.
Hessian soldiers from Germany fought as British mercenaries against American independence.
Researchers in New Jersey believe they have found the remains of 13 Hessian soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary War.
The 245-year-old remains lay undiscovered until a team from Rowan University and Gloucester county found a human femur in June at the site of Fort Mercer, where the 1777 Battle of Red Bank took place.
They continued excavating the site and found the remains of 12 more individuals, including femurs, skulls, and teeth, the university said. They also discovered a “pristine” King George III gold guinea from 1766, which they say would equate to a soldier’s monthly pay.
“As we removed more remains, it became clear to us that this was not one individual. We were looking at a mass grave and, in all likelihood, a Hessian mass grave,” said Jennifer Janofsky, the Megan Giordano Fellow in Public History inin Rowan’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences.
“We’re assuming they’re Hessian soldiers based on everything we’ve found, the context of what we’ve found, and the artifacts and objects that are in place with them,” Archaeologist Wade Catts said.
“This is very much a death scene investigation. It’s a really significant archaeological site.”
Janofsky says she hopes to one day be able to identify the deceased and tell their stories.
Who are Hessian soldiers?
The Hessians were from Germany, mainly the state of Hesse, who fought to defend the British crown in the American Revolution. More than 30,000 crossed the Atlantic to help crush the new United States.
They were considered mercenaries by the American revolutionaries though some historians argue they were paid auxiliaries to the British army.
In the Battle of Red Bank, fought to capture Fort Mercer on the left bank of the Delaware river, the Hessians suffered 377 casualties out of 2,000 ordered to lay siege. The Americans, integrated regiments of Black and white soldiers fighting for freedom, numbered 500 and lost only 14 soldiers, according to Janofsky.
The victory was a morale boost for General George Washington’s hard-pressed forces and the American cause.
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