Evil and Disobedient Rebels. Long Island, August 1776

Four days after the British victory over the Americans at the Battle of Long Island, the Hessian officer Andreas Wiederhold offered his opinion of the “evil and disobedient rebels.” The view of the Americans as an ungrateful people that were destroying their own land and property by going to war against their king was widely shared among German officers.

English translation:

Letter from Andreas Wiederhold to Georg Ernst von und zu Gilsa

In camp on Long Island opposite New York, August 31, 1776

The heart pounds in the body of an honest man to see such a fortunate land and habitations in ruins, which have been plundered by evil and disobedient rebels, who are dissatisfied with their undeserved beneficence of heaven, and who are disloyal to God and the king. But God will give us fortune and give them remorse, so that not everything will be destroyed by their delusions.

German original:

Im Lager Long Island gegen New Yorck, den 31ten August 1776

Das Hertz im Leib springt einem redlichen Mann, ein so glückseliges Land und Wohnungen zu sehen, die von bösen und ungehorsamen Rebellen entblöset sind und die mit ihren unverdienten Wohlthaten des Himmels nicht zufrieden, Gott und dem König nicht getreu sind—ruinirt zu sehen [!]. Gott wird uns aber Glück und ihnen Reue geben, damit nicht alles nach ihrem irrigen Sinn verderbet werde.

Citation: Gräf, Holger Th., Lena Haunert, and Christoph Kampmann, eds. Krieg in Amerika und Aufklärung in Hessen: Die Privatbriefe (1772-1784) an Georg Ernst von und zu Gilsa. Marburg, Germany: Hessisches Landesamt für geschichtliche Landeskunde, 2010, p. 149.

Image: Pierre Charles Canot, A South West View of the City of New York, in North America, c. 1768, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/384881

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