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The Battle of Yorktown, "The German Battle"

         By: Randall Ratje              However, the British were
             he Battle of Yorktown, not the only world power em-
             fought  from  Septem- ploying  German  soldiers  in
      Tber  28  to  October  19, their  foreign  wars.  In  1751,
      1781, was the final major bat- Christian  IV,  Count  Palatine
      tle  of  the  American  Revolu- of  Zweibruecken  raised  and
      tionary War. It ended with the contracted a 1,000 man regi-
      surrender  of  British  General ment to serve King Louis XV
      Cornwallis' forces in Virginia of France. The German name
      which  ultimately  resulted  in for  the  regiment  was  the
      the  Treaty  of  Paris  which Deutsches  Koeniglich-Fran-
      granted  America's  indepen- zoesiches  lnfanteries  Regi-
      dence from Great Britain. But ment Zweibruecken. But, the
      did  you  know  that  approxi- regiment was better known by
      mately  one-third  of  all  the its  French  name,  the  Royal
      land forces involved at York- Deux Ponts. Deux Ponts is a
      town were either hired or re- direct      translation     of
      cruited     from     German Zweibruecken or Two Bridg-
      territories  or  were  German es. Zweibruecken is located in
      immigrants  to  America?  For the  Rheinland-Pfalz  (Rhein-
      this reason, German historians land Palatinate) region not far
      refer  to  Yorktown  as  Die from the French border.
      Deutsche Schlacht –The Ger-       The  Royal  Deux  Ponts
      man Battle.                    Regiment  was  active  from
         In  the  18th  century,  the 1751  to  1797  and  served
      lands  that  now  make  up  the France  in  the  Seven  Years
      Federal Republic of Germany War  and  in  the  American
      were  governed  by  Kurfuer- Revolutionary War.
      sten  or  Prince  Electors  who   In  1797,  France  annexed
      would  choose  one  of  their the territory of Zweibruecken
      number to be the Emperor of and the regiment was then in-
      the  Holy  Roman  Empire  of corporated  into  the  French    A plan of the Battle of Yorktown drawn in 1875
      the German Nation. Although Revolutionary Army and was
      King  George  III  of  England renamed the 99' Infantry Reg-  Of course, the "French"       troops  against  the  9th  and Museum  website,  between
      was born in Great Britain and iment. ' During the 18th cen-   troops under Vicomte de       10th  redoubts,  just  south  of 1683  and  1776,  roughly
      he never set foot on his ances- tury, Great Britain and France  Viomenil in the assault     the British inner defenses.    120,000    German-speaking
      tral  homeland,  he  still  was were  major  rivals  for  world                                Heavily  outnumbered  the immigrants arrived in the col-
      also the head of the German supremacy.  So,  the  King  of       on Redoubt 9 were          British  and  Hessian  soldiers onies. German speakers were
      House  of  Hanover.  As  such, France was more than happy       actually the German         stood  as  valiantly  as  they so  numerous  that  the  Conti-
      he was also a Prince Elector to aid the American Colonies        troops of the Royal        could  against  overwhelming nental Congress released ver-
      of the Holy Roman Empire.      in  loosening  Great  Britain's       Deux Ponts.            forces  but  were  driven  away sions  of  the  Declaration  of
         So,  when  Great  Britain control in the Western Hemi-                                   at the points of enemy bayo- Independence in both English
      needed  soldiers  in  times  of sphere.                                                     nets. The next day Washing- and in German.
      war, George III would turn to     However,     before    the  dier  companies  of  the  Royal ton  commenced  bombard-        At the Battle of Yorktown
      his German cousins for assis- American Revolutionary War      Deux  Ponts  under  the  com- ment  of  Yorktown  itself,  the I can cite two outstanding ex-
      tance. At the beginning of the came  the  Seven  Years  War   mand  of  French  General  de allied troops repulsed a Brit- amples of Germans serving in
      American       Revolutionary from 1756 to 1763. In that war   Broglie  withstood  an  allied ish  attempt  to  retake  the  re- the Continental Army.
      War,  Great  Britain  signed we saw the first battle pitting  British, Hanovarian, Hessian, doubts,    and    Cornwallis      First is Captain Bartholom-
      treaties with six German prin- "Hessians," fighting for Great  Braunschweiger  army  under decided to wave the white flag ew  von  Heer's  Corp  of  Pro-
      cipalities: Brunswick (Braun- Britain,  against  the  Royal   Prince Ferdinand von Braun- only two days later."            vost  Light  Dragoons  who
      schweig),       Hesse-Kassel, Deux  Ponts  Regiment,  fight-  schweig. So, by the time these   Of  course,  the  "French" served  as  General  Washing-
      Hesse-Hanau,       Waldbeck, ing for France.                  forces met again at Yorktown, troops under Vicomte de Vio- ton's personal Body Guard.
      Ansbach-Bayreuth  and  An-        The  date  was  April  13,  it  is  fair  to  say  they  were menil  in  the  assault  on  Re-  Second,  let  us  not  forget
      halt-Zerbst  who  would  ulti- 1759.  The  location  was  the  known to each other.         doubt  9  were  actually  the Major  General  Friedrich  von
      mately  send  a  combined town of Bergen which today            Without further ado, let us German  troops  of  the  Royal Steuben.  We  know  of  von
      30,000 men to fight in Ameri- is  a  borough  of  the  city  of  now  fast  forward  to  October Deux  Ponts.  To  quote  Dr. Steuben's  exploits  at  Valley
      ca. These varied forces tend to Frankfurt am Main known as    of  1781,  on  the  Yorktown Robert  Seilg's  Deux-Ponts Forge,  Pennsylvania  and  at
      be lumped together under the Bergen-Enkheim in the State      Peninsula.  British  General Germans,  Unsung Heroes of Monmouth, New Jersey, but,
      collective  heading  of  "Hes- or  Land  of  Hessen.  At  the  Cornwallis  is  in  a  hopeless the  American  Revolution, when     General    Nathaniel
      sians."                        Battle of Bergen three grena-  position.  General  George "November 1, 1780, the regi- Greene was sent to command
                                                                    Washington  and  the  Conti- ment was 73 short, victims of the  Southern  Department  in
                                                                    nental  Army  has  Cornwallis the difficult journey and vita- 1780,  von  Steuben  was  sent
                                                                    encircled  on  land  and  the min deficient food served by with him.
                                                                    French  fleet  has  cut  off  his the  French  fleet.  By  way  of  While in the South, Gener-
                                                                    escape by sea. The British dig comparison, the regiment lost al  von  Steuben  helped  orga-
                                                                    in building a series of defen- only  one-fourth  that  number nize  recruits  and  supplies  in
                                                                    sive emplacements known as in  casualties  in  the  storming Virginia  for  Greene's  army.
                                                                    redoubts.  Washington  knows of  Redoubt  #9  before  York- Later,  General  von  Steuben
                                                                    he  must  break  through  these town in October of 1781, the went on to serve as one of the
                                                                    redoubts to compel Cornwal- bloodiest  event  of  its  cam- American  divisional  com-
                                                                    lis' surrender.               paign."                        manders during the Yorktown
                                                                      The  American  Battlefield     Beyond  the  "Hessians" Campaign.
                                                                    Trust  website  gives  the  fol- fighting  with  the  British  and  German  soldiers  clearly
                                                                    lowing account of the assault the  Deux  Ponts  Regiment played a prominent role in the
                                                                    on Redoubts 9 and 10, "After fighting  for  the  French,  we fighting  on  both  sides  at  the
                                                                    more  than  a  week  of  bom- know  there  were  many  Ger- Battle  of  Yorktown  in  1781.
                                                                    bardment,  the  assault  finally man-American  colonists  that No wonder it has come to be
                                                                    came on the 14th of October. served in the Continental Ar- known by German historians
                                                                    Alexander  Hamilton  and  the my  and  were  no  doubt  also as  Die  Deutsche  Schlacht  –
                                                                    Vicomte de Viomenil each led present at Yorktown. Accord- The German Battle.
      4 - the steuben news                                          400  American  and  French ing  to  the  Frontier  Culture
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