German Soldiers Serving in British Regiments

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German Soldiers Serving in British Regiments

GERMAN SOLDIERS SERVING IN BRITISH REGIMENTS. In the summer of 1775, British infantry regiments serving in America were ordered augmented by 120 men. The home islands provided the largest proportion of these, but additional men were garnered via contract with Hanoverian Lieutenant Colonel Georg Heinrich Albrecht von Scheither, who provided 2,000 German recruits to serve in British regiments.

A study of the Twenty-second Regiment of Foot shows on average the Germans comprising 10 percent of each 1776 battalion company, with the flank companies (grenadier and light infantry) containing only veteran soldiers. The Twenty-second Regiment Germans enlisted in England in May 1776 but did not actually join the regiment at Staten Island, New York, until the late summer and autumn of that year.

Desertion proved a problem. British Fourth Brigade orders for 6 May 1777 noted:

the German Recruits … may be put toGether to sleep in one or more Rooms which rooms are to be lockd: at 8 at night and Opend: at Revaelley beating in the morning that their names may be calld: Over Every hour During the day … that the Articles of war Against Desertion to be read to them together with these Orders, this Evening for which porpose they are to be Assembld: at the parade of the Regt: at half past five & That they be told the reason they are treatd: in this manner is because of the frequen Dsertion Among them at the same time they are to be forbid going to the Waldeck Regiment. (Rees, transcr., "Selected Transcriptions")

Despite this admonition, most of the men served honorably and well through the war.


Hagist, Don N. "Forty German Recruits: The Service of the von Scheither Recruits in the 22nd Regiment of Foot, 1776–1783." Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association 6, no. 1 (1997): 63-66.

――――――. "New Information on the Forty German Recruits in the 22nd Regiment of Foot." Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association 7, no. 3 (2003): 58-61.

Rees, John U., transcr. "Selected Transcriptions of 40th Regiment of Foot Order Book." Available online at