Simon_Jester wrote: Thanas wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:How so? Were the Germans contracting their own shipping and supply? If so, this would then turn into another example of Britain committing money as a substitute for committing troops- which it did on a fairly regular basis throughout the late 18th and early 19th century. Look at how many nations they subsidized against Napoleon.
No, but are you at all familiar with the German troops?
To be perfectly honest, I do not. The only things I know about the German mercenaries used during the American Revolution is that they were embarrassingly vulnerable to being ambushed on Christmas night, and that at least a few British commanders claimed that they marched too slowly to participate meaningfully in battles alongside them.
I am inferring from the tone of your question that you would say they were they were fairly inferior mercenaries.
Well, most of them were pressed into fighting and sold like cattle because the ruler of the small German principality of Hessen-Kassel had an inferiority complex and wanted to build great palaces, castles and great streets to go with them (one example
) without having the money to do so. So he had the great idea of lending his standing army and any other able-bodied male he could grab to the British who would pay him a decent sum for them.
Needless to say, besides the regulars this did not result in enthusiastic soldiers or soldiers who could be counted on to face bayonet charges for somebody who they never had seen, in a far away country they did not care about, after being "recruited" from their farms and homes by less than savioury means, in the full knowledge that if they were killed or maimed the British would pay a premium to the Landgrave. This was not only true of Hesse, but also of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
The core of the German auxilliaries was decent, but most of them were lost at Saratoga and the others never amounted to anything more than Garrison troops. Heck, of the surviving troops a quarter of them never went back to Hesse, preferring to stay in the USA. Whether their training was bad is a matter of debate - some sources claim they were highly effective, much more than the British regulars, other claim that they were useless. The truth is probably highly dependent on the individual regiment involved.
Note another thing about the German mercenaries - where are the heavy hitters, the professional cavalry regiments, the Cuirassiers, the lancers, the Hussars?
The Grenadiers performed well, but they were just too few. Very few cavalry, a lot just infantry. If the British had really cared, they would have raised far more regular troops. They also would have had much more and much more competent cavalry.
It is also not as if they did not have other sources available. Heck, for Waterloo alone they quickly assembled ~30k German troops of much higher quality and those are just the ones that were quick enough to reach the battle site. Note that the highly disciplined army of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later Hannover, ruled by none other than George III) never was used in the Americas.
This was done on the cheap.
The bases of supply for operations during the rebellion were either less secure than those during the Seven Years' War (because they were surrounded on land by rebel territory and had rebel sympathizers scattered throughout even the relatively loyal territories), or they required a considerable overland journey from a more secure base in Canada (which ended very badly in the Saratoga campaign).
Look up the British Quebec campaign in the Seven Years War, there they had even stronger obstacles to overcome in that regard.