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Brunswickjager.org » Philipsruh to Nijmegen
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Philipsruh to Nijmegen

Part One:

Philipsruh to Nijmegen

March 31st 1777- April 9th 1777

The story of the Hesse Hanau Jäger Corps begins near the town of Philipsruh on the Rhine River near Hanau. In mid March, once all of the papers were in order, marching orders were issued and the Corps was ordered to concentrate at Philipsruh to ride ships up the Rhine to the Netherlands city of Nijmegan. Resplendent in their brilliant green uniforms, cocked hats with green and white plumes, all three companies boarded their ships for the slow ride to the coast.1 A participant of the ceremonies marking the departure of the corps wrote the following report:

The affair seemed indescribably touching to the Crown Prince, who was a very sympathetic man, and, consequently, to the entire staff and other officers, and finally to the entire Corps. One received the tender and affectionate impression of a father taking leave of his child. His Highness gave them his blessing and accompanied them for two hours. …the majority of them [citizens] weeping for the Jägers who seemed going to certain death. Everyone bid us life, health, and a fortunate return. It was quite a melancholy departure.2

The Corps was assigned to seven river vessels, one of which was to be used to carry Anspach prisoners of some sort (presumably deserters, or men involved in the revolt mentioned in Dohla’s journal). The force after assembly consisted of the Staff, and the three companies under the command of Lt. Colonel Kreutzbourg, Captain Herman Albrecht Francken, and Captain Count Charles Louis de Wittgenstein. The Corps at this time totaled about 360 men of all ranks including Staff and support personnel and not counting Kornrumpf’s company. The men were split among the six remaining vessels, and once all of the men were aboard and supplies were taken on, the little flotilla weighed anchor and sailed for Offenbach at 4:00pm.

Offenbach was reached later that night at around 9:00pm. The ships then dropped anchor. Kreutzbourg wrote of placing sentries about the boats at night to keep desertion to a minimum. A detachment of eight Jägers and an NCO under the command of Sergeant Filzhoffen was sent to the town of Bieberich. The next day, the flotilla reached the city of Mainz at 12:00 and then had to pass through a customs inspection. It is here that we see the difficulties that some German contingents faced in moving to the coast. We also see perhaps the real purpose behind Kreutzbourg detaching Filzhoffen to Bieberich.

Upon arriving at Mainz, the city officials requested a short customs inspection of the ships. Lt. Wilhelm von Van den Velden, Kreutzbourg’s adjutant, arranged with General Gondenus the Governor General of Mainz how the inspection was to be arranged. Kreutzbourg wrote to the Hereditary Prince about the inspection:

Thereupon the custom officials arrived and inspected the ships (after having obtained such permission) for merchandise which might have been owned by members of the crew. The local adjutant, Weiland, of Mainz, arrived at 1:45, and presented the compliments of General Gondenus, who ordered him to ask these three questions: First, if I had any deserters of the district of Mainz; Second if I had any subject of Mainz who had not yet served his own respective Lord; and Third, the adjutant requested permission to search the ship for a man named Lotz.3

According to Kreutzbourg the officials searched the ships rather poorly; the search taking only a half hour. He was careful to mention that there was no animosity and that proper procedure and social conventions were followed.

As to the man named Lotz, an interesting story follows. The man in question was listed under Captain Francken’s Company as Johannes Lotz. He was sent before the flotilla reached Mainz as part of Sergeant Filzhoffen’s command. Lotz appears to be a wanted man in Mainz, and perhaps the Mainz officials had good reason to search for him. Lotz was written about by Kreutzbourg as having used to be a capuchin Monk in Mainz. Evidently, he was conscripted in Hanau, but he did not want to return to the monastery, thus deserting his former masters. Kreutzbourg declined knowledge of Lotz when asked by the Customs officials.

Upon their arrival in Bieberich by April 2nd, Sergeant Filzhoffen’s command reached the flotilla safely at 7:30pm. Kreutzbourg wrote of their experience: “The Mainz hussars rode around them continuously, but as Trumper spoke in French and the monk in Latin, the hussars were at a loss of what to make of them.?4 Apparently Kreutzbourg was not willing to let a man like Lotz go to the Mainz officials. Thus far on the trip, the men were praised for their good behavior on ship, although so many fights had broken out between the men at night that Kreutzbourg was forced to buy lanterns in Bieberich so the men would stop falling over each other. Also a Jäger named Storm had an episode of epilepsy in Mainz and the surgeon was concerned with his ability to serve.5 The rest of the men were in such high spirits that “… [they] are reading their evening prayers and singing, to the great joy of the regimental surgeon who now claims that but little effort might turn him to Protestantism.?6

The Corps departed Bieberich at 6:00am on April 2nd and passed through the towns of Rheingan, Rheinfels, Wallauf (Dehrn writes of either Schottel or Mäuseturm). The flotilla spent the night near Oberspey, and reached the city of Coblenz at 7:30am on April 3rd. Lt. Van den Velden was again sent ahead to procure permission to pass through Coblenz. Permission was granted to pass through without customs inspection, however the local officials commented that rather than wait a few hours, the ships could have passed through without wait had things been arranged a few days earlier.

Before their departure however, there was an incident of desertion involving two men who were from Coblenz. The men named Beckes and Volker deserted when about 300 students from the local Jesuit school massed on the shore and beckoned for Volker to desert, one of them possibly being his brother. The students assisted in their desertion, and when members of the Coblenz garrison leveled their muskets at Jägers under Castendyk who were sent to retrieve the deserters, a possible ‘international incident’ was in the making. But before the Jägers unsheathed their hunting swords, Kreutzbourg recalled the men back to the boats before there was blood shed, giving up the two deserters as lost.7 However, Kreutzbourg was able to recruit a man from Kassel who was an excellent hat-maker.

Further up-river near the town of Oberhammerstein, it was discovered that one of the vessels carrying part of Francken’s company had sprung a serious leak. What made this discovery worse was that it was discovered at night and during a storm. Lieutenant Leth moved the most trustworthy men ashore and had them grouped next to a large bon-fire. The flotilla nearly lost a Hanau sailor when he tumbled overboard after abandoning his pump. Soon however, the ship was repaired, but according to Kreutzbourg this event made all of the men nervous about being on water. After repairing another leak to a boat from Kreutzbourg’s company, the flotilla made sail and arrived near Bonn by 6:30pm on April 4th.8

After passing through customs in Bonn without being inspected, the flotilla weighed anchor and proceeded to Colln. In this city, the Corps had to exchange its German money for Netherlands coinage. Kreutzbourg also commented that the men are eating better than he has ever eaten on previous campaigns. Upon reaching Colln the Corps suffered another desertion when a Jäger named Wust from Nassau deserted to a monastery. Efforts to bring him back failed. However Kreutzbourg was able to enlist an educated man for five florins outside of Colln.9

On April 6th the flotilla passed through Pfalz-Dusseldorf and spent the night in the town of Duisberg. From this point Dehrn’s account picks up the story:

Our journey proceeded past the Rohr, where the Prussian customs began. The latter, in accordance with the will of the Prussian King, issued an order to permit the Hanau Feld Jäger Corps to pass over the land at any time free and unhindered. We were forced to stop near Wesel because of contrary winds. As we passed this place, we journeyed close to Rees, where there is a linden of such size that, true to description, is large enough to accommodate 100 shops beneath it on market day.10

Throughout the journey from Coblenz, the flotilla was hindered by rough weather and contrary winds. Kreutzbourg would often write about facing thunderstorms, often accompanied by hail. Though as delayed as they were, the Corps reached the Prussian city of Emmerich by April 9th, and from there they shortly arrived outside Nijmegen at 5:00pm. Upon their arrival, arrangements started to be made with the English commissary, Colonel Rainsforth, and the local Dutch commandants. Thus far the Corps had little to no desertions.11

Works Cited:

Dehrn, Frederic, Addendum to the Narration of the Hesse Hanau Jäger Corps in America, Translated by John C. Zuleger.

Kreutzbourg, Karl Adolph Christoph, Narration of the Hesse Hanau Jäger Corps in America, Translated by John C. Zuleger.

1 One of the companies was not present for the embarkation as they had left earlier. This company was under the command of Captain Caspar Henri Kornrumpf and would arrive at Nijmegen on March 15th. Kornrumpf’s company would be the only Hanau Jäger company to see combat in 1777.

2 Frederic Dehrn attr, Addendum to The Narration of the Hesse Hanau Jäger Corps, trans. John C. Zuleger, 1. I have attributed the first several pages of this mysterious document to Sergeant Major Frederic Dehrn of Wittgenstein’s company based on several clues throughout the document. There is also a very good possibility that the document was also written by a Corporal, or even perhaps the Regimental Surgeon.

3 Karl Adolph Christoph von Kreutzbourg, Narration of the Hesse Hanau Jäger Corps, trans. John C. Zuleger, 2.

4 Ibid, 3.

5 Storm is not listed on the roster at Nijmegen so I am assuming he was discharged shortly after Bieberich as being unfit for service.

6 Kreutzbourg, 2. The regimental surgeon was a man named Xavier Bender, probably an Austrian and perhaps a Catholic. Not many men of the Corps were Catholic, most were either Lutheran of Protestant.

7 Ibid, 5.

8 Ibid, 7.

9 Kreutzbourg wrote that this man was seven feet tall. He was probably a lot shorter than the seven feet we consider today, but I can imagine he was rather big for the age.

10 Dehrn, 2.

11 Unlike contingents from Anhalt-Zerbst and others, the Hanau Jäger Corps did not have a severe desertion problem. Three men total deserted on the trip to Nijmegen, with two new recruits being procured to replace them.

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