1777 letter from a Hessian soldier during the American Revolutionary War

+7 votes

I already did one post regarding some very interesting and sometimes extremely amusing letters from the Civil War. But imagine my surprise to find the following letter from a Hessian soldier, quoted in Letters from America, 1776-1779, published 1924, in which our gentlemanly narrator excitedly informs his friends how attractive the womenfolk of the nascent United States were. It's pretty long so I'll just quote the best bits; it's dated December 18, 1777.

The womenfolk in this whole extensive region way to Boston and New York are slender and straight, fleshy without being stout. They have pretty little feet, very solid hands and arms, a very white skin and a healthy complexion, without having to paint [makeup on their faces]. I have hardly seen one with pockmarks but smallpox inoculation has long been in general use here. Their teeth are very white, their lips pretty, and their eyes very animated and laughing. At the same time they have natural good manners, a very unconstrained manner, a frank, gay face and natural boldness. [...] Thus dozens stood by the road everywhere and let us pass in review, laughed at us mockingly, or now and then roguishly extended an apple with a curtsy. [....] It is high time I stop talking about girls who on October 23rd cost us some good men, who would not have deserted their comrades but for the alluring voices of some pretty sirens.

Our unnamed narrator does not clarify what happened on October 23, but from context he seems to mean that some Hessians were lured into am ambush by local girls flirting with them. He goes on to say that the American women demand every last penny from the pockets of their husbands and fathers, but "The women do not get it by stamping their feet, do not bite or scratch their husbands, do not fall in a faint or feign illness -- Heaven alone may know how they go about it that their husbands submit so patiently to this harsh taxation." Well, if their wives were as pretty as he says they were, the husbands may not have needed much convincing!

The other letters, from various writers, all contain fascinating details. One writer complains of how "stuck up" the Americans are, "especially in New York", although they are nothing but the descendants of "runaway vagabonds expelled from other places." Another who served in Canada wondered at the lack of locks on any of the houses and how the Canadians live without any fear of theft. Another landed in Savannah to find most of the houses abandoned, the inhabitants having fled to join the rebels, and smashed their furniture and other belongings so that the Hessians could not make use of them.

in The Tree House by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (206k points)

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