Revolutionary War Historical Article

Bruce E. Burgoyne - Hessian Expert

By Howard H. Horne, PhD.
Former President General, Sons of the American Revolution

Bruce E. Burgoyne is a world renowned expert on the subject of the German Auxiliary Troops employed by King George III during the American Revolution. He has been ably assisted by his wife, Dr. Marie Marple Burgoyne, who has also worked tirelessly and traveled extensively in the Burgoyne's search for information about the Hessians.

Burgoyne came about his expertise in a most interesting manner. At the close of World War II, Bruce Burgoyne was discharged from the navy and returned to college. After a few short months he decided to drop out of college and he enlisted in the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps. Upon completion of CIC's course at Fort Holibird, Maryland, Burgoyne was posted to the Army German Language School in Oberammergau, Germany. There, he lived with a German family who spoke essentially only German. Between language school and life with his German "family", he not only learned to speak German, he learned to read German language newspapers and books as well. And, during his off duty hours he frequented local libraries in order to become even more proficient in German. During one such library visit, he came across a diary of a Chaplain who served with a Hessian Regiment during the American Revolution. He translated the diary into English and arranged with the Heritage Press of Westminster, Maryland to publish his English translation in book form. This was the beginning of a spectacular career as an American Revolutionary War historian.

Finding this book and arranging for its publication in English changed the course of Burgoyne¹s life. While still in military service he began a pursuit of journals, diaries, memoirs and articles by Hessians who wrote of their first hand experiences during the American Revolution. He scoured German libraries for Hessian material about the war. In time, he traveled to libraries in Holland, Belgium and France seeking Hessian writings about their experiences as German Auxiliaries. He found a number of first hand accounts - all written in German. Then, following a transfer to the United Kingdom he spent countless hours, weekends and leaves of absence searching the British Museum for material on the American Revolution. He found a treasure trove of material in Britain. He distilled 4,000 pages of notes into a book which details the British version of the revolution.

While in Germany, Burgoyne studied the life and times of the six provinces that supplied German Auxiliary troops to the English. Early on he decided to concentrate his efforts on the Waldeck province, the smallest of the German provinces involved in supplying troops to George III. He collected as much material as he could, including military rosters, about the Waldeck Regiment which was sent to fight the Americans. He continued this study after his retirement from the service and has now published a book about the Waldeck Regiment.

Burgoyne wrote as follows concerning this Regiment: "Of all the so-called Hessian units employed by England during the American Revolutionary War none traveled more widely nor had more interesting experiences than the 3rd English-Waldeck Regiment. This contingent of men from the smallest of the six lands (provinces) which provided soldiers for England ­ Anhalt-Zerbst, Ansbach-Bayreuth, Brunswick, Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau and Waldeck came from the smallest land but served against more nations, in more widely scattered areas, traveled to more places, and suffered a greater percentage of losses than any other contingent."

"Originally scheduled to be sent to Canada in 1776, the Regiment was sent instead to New York to join the army of General William Howe. After service in the New York-New Jersey area, during which time men from the Regiment who were captured were sent to prison facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland and some entered the American Army, the Regiment was ordered to West Florida. En route to West Florida the transports carrying the Waldeck Regiment stopped at Jamaica to regroup and to take on provisions and water. They then sailed to Pensacola. From Pensacola part of the Regiment was sent to the area of the Mississippi river, where the men were captured by the Spanish forces commanded by Don Bernardo Galvez. After being held captive for about a year, the men were transferred to Cuba, sailing first to Vera Cruz, Mexico. Following their exchange, the men returned to New York. Some of the men held prisoner in New Orleans deserted, went up the Mississippi river and joined George Rogers Clark who was fighting against the English in the Illinois country."

When hostilities ended the Regiment returned to Germany. They arrived back in Waldeck in September and October of 1783. Burgoyne has translated forty German language manuscripts and published more than thirty books and numerous magazine articles based upon these manuscripts. Much of the material Burgoyne dealt with was written in "old" German, something he mastered while stationed in Germany. Burgoyne’s research, his translations and his writings are world renown. And, his contribution to our knowledge about the American Revolution has truly earned him a place of honor in Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation".

Bruce Burgoyne has, to date, donated about two-thirds of his research material to the SAR Library. Included are copies of his books, records he obtained from sources in Germany and Holland as well as his vast store of research notes. The remaining material currently in the Burgoyne’s hands should be in the SAR Library by this time next year.


Among the Heritage books by Bruce E. Burgoyne are the following:


Canada During the American Revolutionary War:
Lieutenant Frederick Julius von Papet’s Journal of the Sea Voyage to North America and the Campaign Conducted There

CD: Ansbach-Bayreuth Diaries from the Revolutionary War

CD: The Hessian Collection, Vol. 1: Revolutionary War Era Defeat, Disaster, and Dedication

Diary of a Hessian Grenadier of Colonel Rall¹s Regiment
Written by Johannes Reuber

Hesse-Hanau Order Books, A Diary and Roster: A Collection of Items Concerning the Hesse-Hanau Contingent of "Hessians" Fighting Against the American Colonists in the Revolutionary War

Hessian Chaplains: Their Diaries and Duties


Journal of the Hesse-Cassel Jaeger Corps and Hans Konze’s List of Jaeger Officers

Mirbach Order Book
: Order Book of the Hesse-Cassel von Mirbach Regiment

Most Illustrious Hereditary Prince: Letters to Their Prince from Members of
Hesse-Hanau Military Contingent in the Service of England During the American Revolution

Notes from a British Museum

The Battle of Brandywine, 11 September 1777

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse and the Siege and Surrender at Yorktown
by Berthold Koch


The Hesse-Cassel Mirbach Regiment in the American Revolution


The Third English-Waldeck Regiment in the American Revolutionary War


The Trenton Commanders: Johann Gottlieb Rall and George Washington
, as Noted in Hessian Diaries

Journal of a Hessian Grenadier Battalion

Memoir of a Hessian Soldier By Carl Philipp Steuernagel
as Translated by Bruce E. Burgoyne


Editors Note: Following is a currently available partial list of printed sources by Bruce Burgoyne & Others on German Troops serving in the American Revolution as Compiled by Sons of Liberty Chapter Compatriot Donald N. Moran.

T he Hessians, Mercenaries from Hessen-Kassel in the American Revolution
by Rodney Atwood
Cambridge University Press, 1980

Defeat, Disaster, and Dedication
by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1997

Diaries of a Hessian Chaplain and the Chaplain's Assistant,
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, 1990

Diaries of Two Ansbach Jaegers,
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1997

Diary of Lieutenant von Bardeleben and other von Donop Regiment Documents
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1998

Eighteenth Century America: A Hessian Report on the People, the Land, the War as Noted in the Diary of Chaplain Philipp Waldeck (1776-1780)
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
1995

Enemy Views: The American Revolutionary War as Recorded by the Hessian Participants,
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1997

Georg Pausch's Journal and Reports of the Campaign in America,
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1996

Hessian Diary of the American Revolution
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
University of Oklahoma Press, 1990

Hessian Officer's Diary of the American Revolution
translated by Bruce Burgoyne,
Heritage Books, 1994

Hesse-Cassel Mirbach Regiment in the American Revolution
translated by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1998

Waldeck Soldiers of the American Revolutionary War
compiled by Bruce Burgoyne
Heritage Books, 1991

The American Revolution, Garrison Life in French Canada and New York: Journal of an Officer in the Prinz Friedrich Regiment, 1776 1783,
translated by Helga Doblin
Greenwood Press, 1993

Eyewitness Account of the American Revolution and New England Life: The Journal of J.F. Wasmus, German Company Surgeon, 1776-1783
translated by Helga Doblin,
Greenwood Press, 1990

The Specht Journal: A Military Journal of the Burgoyne Campaign
translated by Helga Doblin
Greenwood Press, 1995

German Allied Troops in the North American War of Independence, 1776-1783
by Max von Eelking,
Heritage Books, 1987

Diary of the American War, by Johann Ewald
translated by Joseph Tustin
Yale University Press, 1979

Treatise on Partisan Warfare, by Johann Ewald
translated by Robert Selig and David Curtis Skaggs,
Greenwood Press, 1991

The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform under Frederick II 1760-1785,
by Charles Ingrao
Cambridge University Press, 1987

The Hessian View of America: 1776-1783
by Ernst Kipping,
Philip Freneau Press, 1971

Journal of Johann Karl Philip von Krafft, 1776 1784
translated by Thomas Edsall,
NY Historical Society, 1882

The Hessians and the Other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War
by Edward J. Lowell,
Corner House Books, 1970

Das Militar der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel zwischen 1783 und 1789
by Georg Ortenburg
Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Heereskunde e.V., 1999

Letters from America 1776-1779: Being Letters of Brunswick, Hessian and Waldeck Officers with the British Armies During the Revolution
translated by Ray Pettengill,
Kennikat Press, 1964

Brunswick Troops in North America 1776-1783; Index of all Soldiers who Remained in North America,
by Claus Reuter
Heritage Books, 1999

Indentured to Liberty: Peasant Life and the Hessian Military State, 1688-1815,
by Peter K. Taylor
Cornell University Press, 1994

German Allied Troops in the American Revolution: J.R. Rosengarten's survey of German Archives and Sources
Edited by Don Heinrich Tolzmann
Heritage Books, 1993

The Baroness and the General
by Louise Hall Tharp
Little, Brown and Company, 1962

Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals 1776-1783 of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces
translated by Bernhard Uhlendorf,
Rutgers University Press, 1957

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