Foreign Adventurers in the American Revolution

Soldiers from Britain, France, Germany and Poland contributed to the success of American arms during the Revolutionary War, writes Aram Bakshian Jr.

One of the major grievances set forth against the Crown in the Declaration of Independence was the hiring of mercenary troops to pacify Britain’s rebellious American colonies:

‘He (George III) is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.’

A strong charge, couched in a melodramatic exaggeration; yet the same indignant Congress, over a year before July 4th, 1776, had appointed Charles Lee, a British soldier of fortune, the third-highest ranking general in the Continental Army.

Lee, who had spent the early part of the decade campaigning with the Polish army of King Stanislas, even managed to wheedle £11,000 out of the anti-mercenary Congress to pay off old debts and obligations.

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