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Discontent among the Hessians

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

April 30—The last and most authentic advices from Charleston, in South Carolina, are, that the greatest discontents have for some time past prevailed among the foreign mercenaries employed in the garrison of that place; jealousies having arisen from their treatment by the British commandant, and from other (said to be national) causes; insomuch that several soldiers of the two nations have, in the course of their disagreements, wounded each other, and the Hessian officers frequently pass the British in the streets, without taking the least notice of them; and a German officer of distinction has for some time been confined, for the freedom with which he expressed himself concerning the present war, as his sentiments were most favorable to the Americans; that several of them have been heard to say privately, that in case of an attack on the town by any part of the American army, they were determined, not only to withhold their assistance in its defence, but to submit, or aid as much as in their power, in its conquest, and that they did not design to leave this country in case of a peace, but settle in it; that the Tory inhabitants, who were embodied and armed for the defence of the town, as militia, were strongly suspected by the British commandant as encouraging the Hessians in these sentiments, and of consequence were disarmed, which had exceedingly chagrined them. That, in addition to the causes already mentioned, there is another which has not a little contributed to these murmurings, which is the glaring partiality of quartering the troops; the foreigners being put into the smallest and most uncomfortable houses, while the British are placed in the best and most elegant in the town. Consequences very alarming are said to be expected from these dissensions by our enemies in that quarter; and we may reasonably conclude, that it must considerably weaken their force in the garrison, which consisted of about eight hundred Hessians and three hundred British, under Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, commandant of the town.1


1 Pennsylvania Packet, May 5.