Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Baron von Riedesel

Friedrich Adolph, Baron von Riedesel (1738 - 1800) was a Hessian general supporting British forces in the American Revolutionary War. He and his wife were captured when General John Burgoyne surrendered after the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.

He was born into a family of the minor German nobility, the second son of Johann Wilhelm Riedesel, Baron Eisenbach (1705-1782) and Sophia von Borcke (1705-1769). His birth on June 3, 1738 and early education both took place at the family home of Hohhaus in Lauterbach, Hesse. His parents disagreed about his education, his mother wanted him prepared for a religious career, while his father sought a legal education and diplomatic service. Either of these was a proper career for a younger son.

Bowing to his father's wishes, when 15 years old, he left for the study of law at the university in Marburg. Friedrich was an indifferent student, but spent time watching the Landgrave of Hesse troops drill. An officer who had seen his interest befriended him, and later tricked him into enlisting. He was told that his father had consented to his enlistment, so at 17 he joined the Marburg battalion, only to have his allowance cut off when his angry father learned of it.

His first assignment in London was short lived, and his regiment returned to Germany for the Seven Years' War in 1759. He distinguished himself in battle, and gained the attention of Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick and Frederick the Great. By 1761 he was in command of two Brunswick regiments as their Colonel.

In August of 1762 he was wounded in battle against the French, and sent back to Minden to recover. There, he as cared for by the von Massow family, and nursed by their daughter Charlotte. In December the couple wed at Paderborn, and settled in Wolffenbüttel, where thy lived quietly for several years. During these years, Riedesel commuted to Brunswick, where has was adjutant to the Duke. He also fathered Auguste (1771-1805), Friedrick (1774-1854), and Caroline (1776-1861).

American Revolution

In 1776 the British began to hire Hessian units to fight in the American Revolutionary War. Brunswick's Duke contracted for 4,000 foot soldiers and 350 light cavalry or jaegers. On March 18 they sailed from Stade, and newly promoted Major General von Riedesel was their commander. After a stop in England, they arrived in Quebec on June 1. They supported the final expulsion from Canada of the American forces after their Invasion of Canada. They were then distributed for the winter through various posts in Canada.

Saratoga Campaign

See Main Article:
Saratoga Campaign