An American Revolution Time Line - 1776
May 11, 1776 - Washington Recommends Raising German CompaniesRumors had reached Congress and General Washington on about the impending arrival of German mercenaries hired by the British to fight against the rebelling American colonies. On May 11, 1776 Washington dispatched a letter to John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, in which he informs him that he has received no further intelligence on the arrival of German troops. In the letter, Washington recommends that Congress, "lest the account of their coming be true, may it not be advisable and good policy to raise some companies of our Germans to send among them when they arrive, for exciting a spirit of disaffection and desertion. If a few trusty, sensible fellows could get with them, . . . they would have great weight and influence with the common Soldiery, who certainly have no enmity towards us, having received no Injury, nor cause of Quarrell from us."
Germans in America
At the time of the Revolution Germans represented about ten percent of the population. These German residents found America an ideal place to settle, as they could own land and form businesses free of the noble class in their native lands that continually oppressed them. The Germans had settled mainly in Pennsylvania and Virginia; however they were present in other colonies as well. They tended concentrate themselves in their own community and continued to speak their own language and continue their own customs. Germans in America had proven to be ardent supporters of the Revolutionary movement and had participated in the conflict since the opening days of fighting. Pennsylvania had recruited four companies of exclusively German sharpshooters.