German Regiment

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German Regiment

GERMAN REGIMENT. Early in 1776, Congress decided to raise an eight-company regiment from among the roughly 130,000 people of German birth or descent then living in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. It authorized the regiment on 25 May 1776, to serve for three years or the duration of the war, and on 17 July appointed Nicholas Haussegger, a hatter from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, as colonel. Haussegger had been a captain in the French and Indian War and then the major of the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion (since 4 January 1776). On 31 December he led ten men on a reconnaissance of Princeton, New Jersey, and surrendered himself and his party to the British. The regiment remained intact after Haussegger's defection. Although forced to retreat under British attack at the Second Battle of Trenton (Assunpink Bridge) on 2 January 1777, it fought well at Princeton (3 January). Congress considered it an "extra" Continental regiment in the reorganization of 1777 (as part of the Maryland Line), and appointed Henry Leonard Philip, baron de Arendt, a veteran of the Prussian service, as its new colonel on 19 March. As a unit of Washington's main army, it was present at Brandywine and was heavily engaged at Germantown. Washington granted de Arendt a leave of absence for health reasons on 18 August 1778; he never reassumed command. The regiment was sent to the Pennsylvania frontier in April 1779, served in Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois, and remained on the frontier until April 1780. It served with the main army until disbanded on 1 January 1781. German-Americans were also prominent in another German regiment, this one authorized by the Virginia Convention as the Eighth Virginia on 11 January 1776. Raised by John Peter Muhlenberg in the frontier counties of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley between 9 February and 4 April, it was adopted into the Continental army on 25 May 1776. After participating in the defense of Charleston, South Carolina, in June 1776, the unit joined Washington's army for the defense of Philadelphia in the summer of 1777. It was consolidated with the Fourth Virginia on 12 May 1779.

SEE ALSO Haussegger, Nicholas; Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel; New Jersey Campaign.


Retzer, Henry J. The German Regiment of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the Continental Army, 1776–1781. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1991.

Wright, Robert K., Jr. The Continental Army. Washington, D. C.: United States Army Center of Military History, 1983.

                            revised by Harold E. Selesky