Drove to and from Fort Frederick, near Big Pool, Maryland on September 13.
I was tracing my great (times five) grandfather, who as a Hessian mercenary had served with the English attempting to subdue the rebellion in colonial America. My predecessor was impressed into the Hessian army and shipped to New York, which his unit helped “liberate” from George Washington.
Records show that Jacob “deserted 24 Sep 1781 from POW status probably at (hospital?) Frederick, Maryland.” There were two POW encampments in Maryland, both occasionally called Fort Frederick. This first, which I visited today, was built in 1756 as a frontier bastion against the French. It–older, larger, more permanent (note the twenty foot tall stone walls)–housed up to a thousand British POWs captured during the Revolutionary War. The other a wooden stockade near Frederick (then called Fredericktown), some fifty miles away, housed the German POWs. The Continental Congress worried the Germans would escape from the one, but not the other.
The remainder of Jacob’s record is tantalizing: “May have joined American forces.” We have found evidence that several German POWs may have joined a German immigrant unit of Pennsylvania and Maryland (obviously not Amish or Mennonites, who shunned violence) and fought in the southern campaign against Lord Cornwallis, culminating in his surrender at Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781.
Jacob, where were you and what were you doing?
We next find Jacob (now Zike) married and settled in Jessamine County, Kentucky (then still part of Virginia) in 1782, the proud father of a son (my great (times four) grandfather).
Wily rascals, those Hessians.