News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 13, 2017
Hessian dolls on display in library

Hessian dolls

Hessian dolls from the Bangor Historical Society will be on display at the library through July.

Photo courtesy of Witherle Memorial Library

In advance of the Friends of Castine Fortification’s symposium highlighting the historical importance of Fort George, Witherle Memorial Library has museum-quality dolls depicting Hessian soldiers on display during July. The dolls are on loan from the Bangor Historical Society.

During the American Revolution, the British Crown recruited about 30,000 troops from six German principalities to fight alongside Crown troops in the Colonies. Since about 20,000 came from the principalities of Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Hanau, the soldiers were all referred to as “Hessians.” The other 10,000 troops came from Braunschweig, Ansbach-Bayreuth, Anhalt-Zerbst and Waldeck. Among the German troops, the green and red uniformed soldiers were the Jäger (hunter). At home, a Jäger earned his livelihood working as hunter in the prince’s forest. They were feared in America due to their expert rifle handling and their deadly aim. Soon those Jäger realized that the American sharpshooter was their equal.

The Friends of Castine Fortifications invite everyone to a free event the weekend of September 9-10, titled “1779-1783 Fort George—Protected by the Crown.” Aside from the 74th Highland troops, in charge at the fort since 1779, about 200 Braunschweig and the same number of Ansbach-Bayreuth troops joined the Crown forces in 1782. On September 9-10, there will also be green and red clad “Hessian” Jäger among the reenactors, letting visitors experience what life may have been like when Fort George was protected by the Crown.

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