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Re: German Battalion traitor (Long)

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  • bdodgeweaver
    ... German Reg t (from Pennsylvania) trying to lead his men into being captured at Princeton(?) . . . Colonel Nicholas Haussegger, of the German Regiment. Dear
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 22, 2005
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      --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, PBSP@A... wrote:
      > In a message dated 12/15/2005 3:07:51 PM Eastern Standard Time,
      > Glenn@d... writes: there is a story about the commander of the
      German Reg't (from Pennsylvania) trying to lead his men into being
      captured at Princeton(?) . . . Colonel Nicholas Haussegger, of the
      German Regiment.

      Dear List: As mentioned by Messrs. Mills and Valis, when you're
      discussing turncoat officers of the Continental Army, you can't
      forget Nicholas Haussegger of the German Battalion – especially at
      this time of year. But first, some background.

      Haussegger was born in 1729 in the Swiss Canton of Bern. In 1756, he
      was one of 48 men enlisted by Lt. Col. James Prevost to serve in the
      newly raised Royal American Regiment (60th Foot); at the time,
      Haussegger was a sergeant in the Swiss Regiment of Struler, in the
      service of the Netherlands. From 1756 until 1764, he served in
      America, eventually being promoted to Lt. and then Captain in Burd's
      Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment, and seeing service in the
      Forbes Expedition and Henry Bouquet's Expedition to recover Indian
      captives in 1764. During the 7YW he married Cathrin Guth (a spinster
      of Germantown) and became father to two daughters – Catherina (b. c.
      1760) and Sarah (b.1761).

      After the 7YW he settled in Lebanon, PA, where he was an active
      citizen, who owned a home, and was a tavernkeeper, member of the fire
      association, and (at one point) constable. He may also have been a
      hatter. His neighbors included John DeHaas, who became Col. of the
      1st PA Battalion. Following the outbreak of the AWI, in January 1776
      he was commissioned Major of the 4th PA Battalion under Anthony
      Wayne. While serving with the 4th PA in upstate New York, Haussegger
      in August 1776 received the news that he had been commissioned as
      Colonel of the newly created German Battalion, to be raised in
      Maryland and Pennsylvania from Germans and the sons of Germans.
      However, he did not join his command, then being assembled at the
      Philadelphia Barracks, until October 1776.

      The German Battalion – and Col. Haussegger – marched on December 2,
      1776 to reinforce the Main Army under Washington. In a discussion
      between Haussegger and another officer on December 24, 1776,
      Haussegger expressed the sentiment that he might soon resign from the
      Army. The unit crossed the Delaware on December 25, 1776, and
      participated in the First Battle of Trenton. Washington's draft
      report to Congress noted the "spirit and rapidity" with which the
      German Battalion and the 1st Continental Regiment acted to block the
      retreat of the Hessian garrison. Perhaps because of that conduct,
      the German Battalion was selected to serve in the "van" of the Army
      during the Second Battle of Trenton, which is when Haussegger's
      career took a decidedly different turn.

      John Mills has already relate one of two stories of
      Haussegger's "capture" – on January 1 or 2, while serving beyond the
      rest of the Army, Haussegger ordered his unit to march into the town
      of Princeton. However, his Major – Ludowick Weltner of Frederick,
      Maryland – refused to have the men do so, and the two argued.
      Eventually, Haussegger and ten men went into the town, where the men
      were captured, and Haussegger was paid a bag of gold by a Hessian
      General. This version of Haussegger's capture is recorded in John
      Adlum's memoirs. Adlum heard it from Conrad Hausman (Haussegger's
      waiter), when both men were British prisoner in early 1777 in New
      York. Adlum was a neighbor and customer of the Hausman family
      butcher shop in York, PA. After Adlum heard the story, he informed
      an American officer who was a fellow prisoner of war, who
      interrogated Hausman and gave him some rum. Because Adlum's tale is
      told in a post- war memoir, Adlum was not an eyewitness, and the
      eyewitness was apparently drinking when he was being questioned (not
      to mention a possible German language comprehension issue) there is a
      question as to whether the story is accurate.

      There is a second version of Haussegger's capture, told by Joseph
      Reed, who notes that Haussegger "suffered himself to be taken
      Prisoner" in the town of Trenton while on Queen Street, rather than
      cross the Assunpink Bridge with the rest of the retreating American
      Army. It is unclear to me whether Reed was actually an eyewitness to
      this event, or if he was relating camp rumor.

      Whatever version of Haussegger's "capture" one accepts, Haussegger's
      conduct while a prisoner in New York is related in similar manner by
      three different eyewitnesses – Ethan Allen, John Adlum, and Alexander
      Graydon. Allen's THE NARRATIVE OF COLONEL ETHAN ALLEN (Cambridge,
      MA; Applewood Books, 1989), pp. 88-89, provides the following
      description: "In the mean time a Col. Hussecker, of the continental
      army, (as he then reported) was taken prisoner, and brought to New
      York, who gave out, that the country was most universally submitted
      to the English kings authority, and that there would be little or no
      opposition to Great Britain: This at first gave the officers a
      little shock, but in a few days they recovered themselves, for this
      Col. Hussecker, being a german, was feasting with Gen. D. Heister,
      his countryman, and from his conduct they were apprehensive, that he
      was a knave, at least he was esteemed so by most of the officers, it
      was nevertheless a day of trouble." According to Alexander Graydon,
      Haussegger told his fellow American officers "What do you shut
      yourselves up here for? Why don't you go to the coffee house and mix
      with the British army, as I do. . . the thing was easy enough; it was
      only to change sides, to cry peccavi, and receive forgiveness."
      S. Littell, ed., Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution (New
      York, NY; New York Times and Arno Press, 1969), pp. 237-238.

      Word soon reached Congress of Haussegger's conduct. Robert Morris
      wrote John Hancock on January 14, 1777, noting that "We are told Colo
      Houssicker is in New York wearing a black Cockade, here he wore a red
      one. There are bad reports & Suspicions respecting him." Executive
      Committee to John Hancock, 1/14/1777, Paul H. Smith. Ed., LETTERS OF
      DELEGATES TO CONGRESS, 1774-1789, Vol. 6 (Washington, D.C.; Library
      of Congress), p. 97. Three days later, Morris reported that
      Haussegger had explained himself: "Colo Housicker whom we mentioned
      in our last in an unfavorable point of light, has just been with us &
      gives such an acct of the manner in which he was taken & the cause of
      the Enemies favourable treatment of him as in our opinion wipes off
      the suspicions that many People had entertained of foul play. He is
      under parole and says all the Continental officers & Prisoners that
      are able to walk are coming from New York on parole." Executive
      Committee to John Hancock, 1/17/1777, Paul H. Smith. Ed., LETTERS OF
      DELEGATES TO CONGRESS, 1774-1789, Vol. 6 (Washington, D.C.; Library
      of Congress), p. 117.

      Haussegger by February 1777 had returned home to Lebanon as a paroled
      prisoner of war, awaiting a possible trial for recruiting American
      prisoners for service in the British Army. Later that same month a
      new officer, Baron Arendt, had been commissioned as Colonel of the
      German Rt. Haussegger was never court-martialed, or exchanged; in
      1779, Washington gave express instructions to John Beatty,
      negotiating prisoner exchanges, that "You are not to exchange . . .
      Col. Housekker [as he] . . . was taken in a manner which will not
      suffer us to consider him in the light of a common prisoner[.]"
      Washington's impressions as to Haussegger's loyalty were correct.
      His name appears in the correspondence of John Andre in 1779, in
      connection with supporting the efforts of Joseph Brant on the
      frontier. Earlier, in 1778, he was designated a "tory" in his local
      township tax rolls, and denied a tavern license. In February 1781
      Haussegger finally resigned his commission, writing Washington from
      New York that "The principles of the present contest have been so
      totally changed from what they were when I first accepted a
      Commission under your command and myself so much neglected and
      injuriously treated by those in whose service I was that I can not
      consistant with the honest man and in justice to myself hold it any
      longer." A month later, the Supreme Executive Council of the State
      of Pennsylvania declared Haussegger a traitor, and his property was
      seized and sold in January 1782. Haussegger in 1783 petitioned
      Frederick Haldimand for monetary support, and in 1786 his widow,
      Elizabeth, submitted a petition for compensation to the British
      government, based upon Nicholas Haussegger's service to the Crown in
      the AWI.

      As a matter of historiography some authors have raised the issue of
      whether Haussegger was a traitor at all. The most definitive study
      (from which much of the above is taken) is James F. Davis, A MAN OF
      County Historical Society, Vol. XVII, No. 3 (Lebanon, PA; Lebanon
      County Historical Society, 1989), which concludes that Haussegger
      was – to use Alexander Graydon's characterizations – a man of no
      country, a citizen of the world, a soldier of fortune, and a true
      mercenary. Regarding the conflicting stories of his capture, my own
      view is that Adlum received or recalled the story of Haussegger's
      capture in a "garbled" way. The rearrangement of recollections is
      not unusual as one ages. See Alfred F. Young, THE SHOEMAKER AND THE
      Press, 1999), pp. xiii, 10-12 (discussing memory in the context of
      the recollections of a Tea Party participant); Gregory T. Knouff, THE
      EARLY AMERICAN IDENTITY (University Park, PA; Pennsylvania State
      University Press, 2004), pp. 288-290 (discussing uses and limitations
      on the United States' troops' pension applications). However, facts
      from other sources match Adlum's recollection as to Haussegger's post-
      capture conduct, and the rosters of the German regiment do include
      Conrad Hausman, the name of Haussegger's waiter when in New York.
      Indeed, Hausman is identified as a "butcher in camp" in some German
      Rt. muster rolls.

      So how does one square Adlum's account with Haussegger's reported
      capture on Queen Street? I think the notion that there was a dispute
      between Weltner and Haussegger, and most of the troops obeyed Weltner
      rather than Haussegger, is not entirely made up. In the weeks before
      marching from Philadelphia in December 1776, the German Rt. orderly
      book from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania refers to Major
      Weltner exercising the troops. Perhaps Major Weltner's drill and
      exercise built a relationship with the men that gained him respect
      when arguing with his superior officer. Furthermore, the
      Pennsylvania troops in Philadelphia were learning to be soldiers in
      an environment – Philadelphia of 1776 – where they knew they had not
      only a role, but a collective voice. The Philadelphia militia had
      a "committee of privates" to serve as a check on the power of
      officers, and the German Regiment's enlisted men successfully
      mutinied on September 24, 1776, because they thought they had been
      cheated of their due allowance of rations. Certainly, this was not
      the sort of environment to accept a Colonel's orders without
      question. Finally, Washington seems to have a regard for Weltner,
      declining on two occasions to accept his resignation and advocating
      on his behalf for a higher rate of half pay at the conclusion of the
      war. One gets the sense that he may have been gratefully for
      Weltner's loyalty in the dark days near the Delaware in the winter of
      1776- 1777. I further note that Haussegger's conduct during and
      after the campaign makes him a possible candidate for spying for the
      British before the Christmas crossing. See David Hackett Fischer,
      WASHINGTON'S CROSSING (New York, NY; Oxford University Press, 2004)p.

      Well, for you intrepid souls who made it this far, I wish you all a
      Merry Christmas (or a Happy Snowflake, for the PC set on ye Liste),
      and a Happy New Year.

      Thad Weaver
      German Rt.

      P.S. - Lest anyone think Haussegger was the only German officer in
      the Continental Army to turn his coat, Jim Filipski will tell you
      about Baron Ottendorff. - TJW
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