2005-11-03 / News

Schroder’s fifth book focuses on Hessian occupation of Newport

By Donna K. Drago

Schroder’s fifth book focuses on Hessian occupation of Newport

Walter Schroder Walter Schroder For some, the word “Hessians” conjures up fearsome, war-mongers, but in his new book Walter Schroder dispels that image and gives a local perspective on who the Hessians were and how they lived among the residents of Jamestown and Newport in the 18th century.

“Everybody thinks they were mean,” Schroder said about the soldiers that helped the British fight the Colonials during the period from 1776 to 1779. Schroder dispels another myth about the infamous Hessian troops, noting that not all soldiers of German descent were Hessians.

Only those from the principality called Hessen-Kassel were, in fact, Hessians, Schroder said, adding that this part of Rhode Island also hosted German-born soldiers from Braunschweig, Waldeck, Ansbach-Bayreuth, and Anhalt-Zerbst.

In all, some 17,000 Hessian troops were solicited by King George III, who was Germanborn himself, Schroder noted.

A Jamestown resident for more than 30 years, who moved to North Kingstown two years ago, Schroder said that he has been researching the Hessian troops for about seven years, and that the culmination of his research is “The Hessian Occupation of Newport and Rhode Island 1776-1779.” Published by Heritage Books of Maryland, this is Schroder’s fifth book dealing with historical military themes.

Full of maps and graphics that show the locations of various earthworks forts and gun emplacements in the region during the Revolutionary War, the 222-page book outlines the routes taken by the various regiments, including the Hessians, who were under the command of their own generals and usually took a separate route from their British allies, Schroder noted.

Using the diaries and journals of both British and Hessian soldiers, Schroder has put together a snapshot of daily life during the war, including the dances and musical events that were planned to boost troop morale.

Schroder, who was born in Rhode Island to German immigrant parents, returned to Germany as a youth and was drafted to serve with an antiaircraft battery at age 15 near the end of World War II.

He became a prisoner of war, and because he was fluent in both English and German, he became an interpreter until his discharge in 1946. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and finished his career with the Department of Defense in 1989.

Schroder will give a talk on his research at the library Dec. 8, sponsored by the Friends of the Conanicut Battery — a location where Hessian troops are known to have been stationed.

The design and layout for the book were done by the Jamestown Press

Selling for $25, the book is available at Baker’s Pharmacy, Jamestown Designs, Conanicut Marine’s Ship’s Store, R&R Gallery, and the Jamestown Press. It can also be purchased from amazon.com or from the publisher at www.heritagebooks.com.

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