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When the hostilities broke out between the American colonies and the British authorities in 1776, England did not have enough soldiers to fight against the rebels who wanted their independence. Thus, England made an agreement with the German principalities to hire contingents of soldiers.
A total of 30,000 Germans fought in North America between 1776 and 1783. Among them, 10,000 men served in Canada and almost 2,400 settled there after the war, mainly in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada holds many records for research on German troops, primarily for the Brunswick, Hesse-Hanau, and Anhalt contingents. Please note that the records are not indexed by name and may be written in English, French or German. Library and Archives Canada does not provide a translation service.
The War Office series of particular interest to genealogists are:
- War Office 17: Monthly returns, 1776-1786
(MG 13 WO17, vols. 1570 to 1580, microfilm reels B-1587 to B-1590).
- War Office 28: Headquarters' records, field officers' letters, 1781, 1783
(MG 13 WO28, vol. 8, pp. 165-240, microfilm reel B-2865).
- War Office 28: Nominal roll of the 1st Hesse-Hanau Battalion, January 1783
(MG 13 WO28, vol. 8, pp. 205-208, microfilm reel B-2865).
- War Office 28: Nominal rolls of German troops, January 1782
(MG 13 WO28, vol. 10, pp. 208-275, microfilm reel B-2867).
- War Office 42: Pension claims submitted by widows of officers of the King's German Legion who died in service or while on half-pay. Files include copies of wills, birth certificates and personal papers, etc., 1775-1908
(MG 13 WO42, vols. 52 to 58, microfilm reels B-4682 to B-4689).
Colonial Office (MG 11 CO42)
The Colonial Office series of particular interest to genealogists are:
- Nominal rolls of German troops, 1778-1779
(MG 11 CO42, vol. 39, microfilm reels B-34 and B-35).
- Nominal rolls of German troops, 1779
(MG 11 CO42, vol. 16, part 2, microfilm reel C-11891).
Sir Frederick Haldimand (MG 21)
- Letters of officers of the German Legion, with reports, 1778-1784. Includes lists of the names of regiments and their location
(MG 21, additional manuscripts 21811 and 21812, microfilm reel A-743, originals; also vols. B.151 and B.152, transcripts, microfilm reel H-1650).
- Letters of officers of the German Legion, with reports, 1776-1783. Most of these reports do not give the names of soldiers; however, names of some officers are mentioned
(MG 21, additional manuscript 21813, microfilm reel A-744, originals; also vol. B.153, transcript, microfilm reel H-1650).
- List of all those discharged from the Hesse-Hanau Chasseurs, 1777-1783
(MG 21, additional manuscript 21812, microfilm reel A-743, originals; also vol. B.152, transcript, microfilm reel H-1650).
Other Series of Documents
- Hessian Documents of the American Revolution, 1776-1783
(MG 23 K38). Journals, correspondence, and orders relating to the service of German troops in North America, 364 microfiches. These records are not available for loan and must be consulted on site.
- Great Britain: Army, German Auxiliaries and Hessian Troops
(MG 23 K35). Records copied from the Provincial Archives of Wolfenbüttel, Germany. Some restrictions apply. These records are not available for loan and must be consulted on site.
- List of Officers, NCOs, and enlisted men from the Brunswick Army Corps who were killed, deserted, or left the Army in some other manner.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 38 B A1T 260 Bdl, microfilm reel K-145)
- Nominal rolls of officers, NCOs, and men who were sent to America to fight with the British, 1777-1779.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 38 B A1T 247, microfilm reel K-145)
- Nominal rolls of troops considered prisoners of war, 1777-1783.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 38 B A1T 249, microfilm reel K-145)
- List of total numbers of the Brunswick troops and their different units, including nominal rolls and lists, 1776-1783.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 237 N. Nr. 107, microfilm reel K-146)
- List of Brunswickers who were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, 1777-1783.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 237 N. Nr. 108, microfilm reel K-146)
- List of Hessian or other troops, 1776-1782.
(Wolfenbüttel Archives ref. 237 N. Nr. 109, microfilm reel K-146)
Hessian Soldiers of the Revolution
Research in Published Sources
Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.