>From the daybook of the Hesse Hanau Jaeger Corps’ journey across the
June 15 1777: Sunday, adverse wind, rough, foggy weather. We had to
blow our tuba, fire shots, and rattle the anchor chains to warn ships
which were invisible because of the heavy fog. Other ships did
likewise and thus we all escaped the imminent danger of crashing.
July 3 1777, Thursday, beautiful but very warm, wind moderately good.
Around nine o’clock, we sighted a foreign ship in the distance on
which we discovered, through a spyglass, what we believe to be
Jaegers. We immediately conjectured that it might be a part of the
Kornrumpf Company, which had sailed away from us at Plymouth three
weeks before. We blew the tuba, but the wind carried the sound away
from them. Around one o’clock, they blew and we answered. Following
this, they repeated all our signals quite intelligibly.
>From the Order Book of the Hesse Hanau Jager Corps
Portsmouth May 7, 1777 …an oboe player is to be selected who can
announce the orderly to me at all times. He is to have also his rifle
Carillon, October 3, 1777 The remainder of the entire corps is to
remain dressed during the night, so that at the first signal from the
tuba, the men can immediately assemble on the parade with heavy and
light weapons, and await further notice.
Carillon, November 8, 1777 In a thick fog, all boats must be directed
by the tuba, which will be sounded from the Lieutenant Colonel’s boat.
No tuba will be blown by any of the companies except when a boat
meets with an accident.
Point Levi, June 21, 1780 A tuba will be given each company, which in
turn will be given the under officer so he will be able to signal.
Point Levi, November 11 1780 If the night trumpet is sounded, it is
for the color sergeant. If the marching trumpet is sounded, it is for
Wolf’s Cove, September 8 1781 The signal for departure will be given
on the tuba at exactly four-thirty, whereupon all boats may range
themselves in order.
Pointe Au Fer, October 13 1781 The men must have their weapons,
munitions, and light equipment in such order that they can prepare to
march at the first signal on the tuba.
Pointe Au Fer, October 14 1781 Should the men go out, a tuba signal
will be sounded through the entire camp. While the General is in
camp, neither overcoat nor grey breeches will be worn.
Carillon, November 9 1781 Tonight when the tuba signal is given,
companies will fall in and march to the boats quietly. As soon as
Colonel St. Leger’s signal, which is two musket shots, is given, all
will proceed to the ship and, upon a repeated signal on the tuba, all
are to set out immediately.
There are more instances of the horn being used by the Hesse Hanau
Jager Corps, but the above are the ones I have on hand right now. In
particular there was an incident outside Oswego in 1777 where the horn
players were used to try to get a delirious Jager back to camp.
>The following are accounts from Ewald’s Diary of the Hesse Kassel
The day dawned and I was exposed to a murderous fire. When I looked
around for my men, I saw that no one had followed me except the brave
Lieutenant Trautvetter, my hornblower Muller, Corporal Doerinckel, and
the jagers Reichmeyer, Meister, Mergel, Haschell, Gurckel, Buchwald,
and Ruppel; the last two being severely wounded.
We had no choice but to lie down on the ground before the bridge,
whereupon I ordered “Forward!” sounded constantly. Luckily for us,
Colonel Donop’s column appeared after a lapse of eight or ten minutes,
whereupon the Americans abandoned the redoubt. We arrived in the town
with the garrison of the redoubt amidst a hard running fight, and the
greater part were either cut down or captured.
Fortunately for me, the jagers had caught my horse, whereupon my
hornblower Muller, jager Bauer, and jager Ewald decided to search for
me, even if it meant risking their lives and liberty. To my great
joy, these faithful fellows appeared and found me in my wretched
situation. Since the Americans were placed some distance from the
sunken road and fired in that direction, I asked both jagers to return
fire and had the hornblower blow “Forward!” Thereupon the enemy
ceased firing; the rest of the jagers came up; one put me on a horse,
and I arrived safely at my post where I was bandaged.
I was a du jour today and visited the outpost toward evening. I had
hardly ridden over it when I heard assembly blown in the Jager Corps.
I hurried back as quickly as possible and found that Major
Prueschenck, Captain Lorey, and I, each with one hundred men, were
ordered to march immediately to Philipse’s wharf.
I quickly formed a front on the flank and directed my men to fire a
volley as soon as they caught sight of the enemy and then boldly
attack the foe with the bayonet and hunting sword. I ordered the
jagers to disperse on both flanks and kept the rangers in close
formation. We had not passed five to six hundred paces through the
wood when we saw the enemy in a line facing the side of the highway to
London Bridge, firing freely against Captain Shank’s advance. In
doing so, they carelessly showed us their left flank. I got over a
fence safely without being discovered by the enemy. Here i had a
volley fired, blew the half-moon, and shouted “Hurrah!” I scrambled
over a second fence and threw myself at the enemy, who was so
surprised that he impulsively fled in the greatest disorder into the
wood lying behind him.
AFter I had advanced several hundred paces into the wood, I halted and
reformed the remainder of the three ranger companies which did not
number sixty men. We fell in on a footpath which ran through a thick
brushwood. Here Lieutenant Bickell came to me with ten or twelve
jagers and asked me to sound the call to assemble the jagers, for they
had dispersed so widely in attempting to outflank the enemy that he
feared a part of them would fall into enemy hands. I informed him
that we did not dare to disclose ourselves by sounding the half-moon,
and if half of them were lost, I still would not allow it to be blown;
he might see if he could assemble the men by whistling or signaling.
He hwas gone scarcely a minute, when he came running back and whispere
softely in my ear that an entire column of the enemy was approaching
at quick step. I went several paces ahead on the path and suddenly
ran into people. I could not help myself and cried, “Fire! Fire!”
The rangers fired, and a running fire broke out from the enemy’s side
for several minutes. Then it was quiet again. I now observed that it
was time to fall back and signaled to the jagers and rangers. I left
the wood during the lull and took post on both small hills in the
plain, which Bickell and the jagers had gone around at the beginning
of the action. Here I could look all around, and here I had assembly
sounded in order to give the jagers in the wood the signal to withdraw.
Note 170- Literally, a “half-moon blower,” from Halbermondblaser;
hereafter called a hornblower, not a bugler or trumpeter. Such
hunting-type horns, called “half-moons”, were brass cresecent-shaped
horns made for the Jager Corps.
Transcribed by Justin Boggess
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