The US branch of the Goethe Institut has a report (g) on the history of the Hessian soldiers who fought for the British during the American revolutionary war:
It is estimated that 30,000 Hessian soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)….
The Hessian soldiers who fought for the British are often referred to as German mercenaries – but their background is a bit more complex: George III, the king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at the time, was a Hanoverian king with a family background from Hesse, Germany (as in “Hessian”). And these Hessian soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary War were actually paid by Germany, not by England, to come over and fight the war. So they were not pure mercenaries, it was also like a family affair: they were fighting for the British Crown because it was German.
After losing to the US Army, the surviving Hessian soldiers were brought to Frederick, Maryland as a curious kind of prisoners of war; they could go anywhere they wanted – downtown, shopping or working on farms. As Frederick was a town of German immigrants, there was no language barrier and as the Hessian soldiers were continuingly paid by the German army, even as prisoners, they supported the local economy during their detention. Follow our producer Rob Sachs to Maryland as he finds out more for this episode of The Big Pond.
Many of the Hessians stayed in the USA, often marrying into local families. More about them here.
There’s a bit of Hammel family lore which holds that we are descended from one of these mercenaries, although we have no proof as yet.