Mercenary Describes Conditions in the British Army
By Captain Georg Pausch
(Translated by William L. Stone, 1886)
[Excerpted from American History Told by Contemporaries, Vol. II: Building of the Republic, Albert Bushnell Hart, ed. (New York, MacMillan, 1899), pp. 504-507]
Pausch was in command of some Hanau artillerymen, hired as mercenaries by the English. His observations show the state of feeling between the English and German contingents, and the trials of the camp.
[September 8, 1776] The Regiments are gradually drawing nearer together; and some of them are advancing closer to St. Johns. Those of the boats which are completed and were on the river have mostly been transported toward Lake Champlain, which lake is still in possession of both parties. We have two frigates on the Lake; and from all appearances, there will be a demonstration against it without waiting for the arrival of the two thousand Brunswick troops, which left at the same time as I did, and are destined to act with us. The Rebels are said to be strongly entrenched on the other side [end] of the Lake among the mountains, and from 600 to 1000 Savages are said to form the attacking force of the right wing. We are all on foot; and I am sorry to say that I, also, am in the same fix. We cannot get a two wheeled calash, for which, too, we have to pay one shilling an hour, without trouble and asking permission of one or another general. We even have to pay out of our own pocket, the above price per hour for the small carts of the peasants on which to transport the Company's baggage, clothing and other necessary articles. This expense I hope his Majesty, the King, will most graciously consent to make up to our Company; for we cannot, as yet, tell whether our means, including the money for our rations, will, or will not be sufficient.
For these several reasons, I cannot take into consideration those things which belong and are essential to, position; nor, can I form an idea, until God leads me there on foot, where we shall all meet together for action. This state of affairs will certainly make campaigns, such as no man, since the existence of Hessian troops, has ever witnessed in this world ! According to an old history by a certain Italian King and Campaigner, the Hessian troops had, generally, one ass for the baggage of two officers; but I am very much afraid, and the English prophesy the same thing, that in a short time, each officer will have to gird a saddle on his own back and carry his own baggage ! . . .
[November 8.] Indeed, I have been, from the start, the most miserable and unfortunate of all the commanders of the German Companies Each of my men who was sent to the Hospital was not only afflicted with dysentery, but, as the hospital doctors told me, talked day awl night of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts, besides, also, talking over and repeating all kinds of German village deviltry calling now this one, and now that one by his baptismal name until they had to stop for actual want of breath ! For this disease there is, as is well known, but one remedy in the world, viz: dear peace, and a speedy return g and with this hope I comfort my sick daily. With those still alive and well, I am perfectly satisfied; for they find plenty of solace in the Canadian girls and women. For this reason, and in their companionship they are happy and contented....
April . All the officers have to add money of their own, or else live poorly. A bombadier, for example, has to pay for a pair of boots 20 florins; for a pair of leather pants 20 florins; for a coat, five times as much as in Hanau; and everything else in the same proportion. Why, a bottle of the poorest red wine costs, in our money, 36 kreutzers, and a bottle of Madeira I piastre ! . . .
Regarding the charges against head-smith Brads concerning discipline, service and insubordination, the Brigadier General will send in his reports and protocols. 1 wish to gracious that I had never seen such a " cuss; " also, I hope never to see another one like him. I fervently hope that he will sit in chains in a London jail, for this is all he is good for in this world. There is no more despicable beast in this world than he. He respects neither God nor his Superiors. This is the second time that he has been confined in jail....
[May I5.] For the last three weeks I have drilled every morning from 6 to 8 o'clock, after the lately introduced fashion, with only one Company. In the afternoon, two of my cannon are served by the English, and two by men from my Company when [I)all] cartridges are used. I, for one, never am present but send my officers instead, for the reason, that only an English captain is sent there, and only an English officer commands them on these occasions.
The National pride and arrogant conduct of these people allow them to command my men, while I am not permitted to command theirs !
I lately requested Gen. Phillips that he would furnish me powder for my own drill. This request he at once granted. This was at one o'clock. At three o'clock, it was countermanded through the influence either of the Major or some one else. Jealousy was the cause of my not being allowed to drill separately any longer; and I was thus forced to drill at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, according to their orders and by their drums, which my men do not understand at all, and who, if I left them to drill alone, would be totally demoralized. In fact, the Devil of Jealousy has been aroused because the English see that my men drill quicker and more promptly, and because, also, the spectators do us the justice publicly to acknowledge this to be the case. Hence, instead of the former friendship between us, there is now enmity. They imitate our Artillery in different things, as, for example, in the matter of our wipers, of which they are having some made for their 3 and 6 pound cannon. Every day, to my disgust, I have to practice the [lately] introduced quick-step, which we do not have, nor do they have it in Prussia, nay not in the world, except in the chase, with fast horses and good dogs ! This is a splendid exercise for the men in winter; but in the summers when the weather is warm, it is detrimental to the health of the men. It has no good result except to make the spectators laugh, for by this manÏuvre no closed ranks could be kept in an attack upon the enemy. In case, therefore, of a retreat we would not only fare badly, but would be exposed to the well deserved censures of the European and American press....
Maj. Williamson got it into his head that he could order me to forbid my men going out in the evening with their sabres. But I told him that I would not dare receive such an order from any one except my Gracious Prince, and therefore I could not obey him: further: that should I meet any one of my men either during the day or at the time for retiring at g o'clock, going to his quarters without his sabre, I should have him flogged the next morning. I further said, that it was a standing order at our Capital, where four or five battalions were collected at a time, that no soldier in uniform should be without his side-arms.
Since then, I have never been asked to do this; and in fact, it would fare ill with my men were such an order enforced, since were they to depend on boxing for protection, some would return to Germany cross-eyed and some blind ! . . .
[May I7.] Respecting that miserable rascal and head-smith, Brads . . . I gave it as my opinion that the fellow had already been somewhat punished; and as I did not wish to belittle the General, the wretch had better be released from further punishment, and allowed to continue at his work.
In time of war, I find sentences of this kind out of place, as long, that is, as the offense is not a criminal one. Prompt punishment, such as running the gauntlet, whipping, or confining in fetters for a timeÑis the best that can be done on these occasions, as by these light punishments, the service does not suffer.
19th. Brought to a close, the 19th of May, I777, in the Winter-quarters at Montreal. It looks, now, as if we were on the point of starting; and, perhaps, we will really do so before the end of the month.
[Captain [Georg] Pausch, Journal (translated by William L. Stone, Albany, 1886), 69-121 passim.]