Penn in Hand: Selected Manuscripts

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Ms. Coll. 773 - Collection on the participation of German soldiers in the American Revolution
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Collection on the participation of German soldiers in the American Revolution, 1776-1885.
Physical description:
1 box (1 volume + 8 leaves)
Handwritten copy, dated 12 January 1855 (f. 48v), of a diary (Tagebuch) kept by Andreas Wiederholdt (Wiederhold) from 7 October 1776 to 7 December 1780, bound together with copies of and excerpts from other documents (dated 1776 to 1784), related to the participation in the American Revolution of German soldiers from what was then the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel. Also included are 2 original items dating from 1776 and 1777. The documents are of various sizes, and all leaves have been mounted on guards. Wiederholdt was a lieutenant in the Hessian regiment under Johann Gottlieb Rall at the time of writing of the diary, and later a captain in the regiment under Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen; he died in Kassel around 1805 (f. 48v). The copy of his diary includes copies of 18 color illustrations, including 5 drawings of ships, 11 maps related to military operations, and 2 different versions of a chart of flag signals. A note written in a different hand at the end of the Wiederholdt diary (f. 48v) identifies the writer of the diary and recounts the history of ownership of the original diary, which was last known to be in the possession of Wiederholdt's grandson, who emigrated to America in 1880, after which his whereabouts and that of the diary were unknown. Of the accompanying copies, most appear to be in the same hand as the copy of the Wiederholdt diary, but a few miscellaneous items (f. 63, 64, 80), as well as the diary of Caspar Recknagel (f. 82-103) might be in different hands. The Recknagel diary pertains to the Battle of Rhode Island in the summer of 1778; and to the departure of Hessian troops from New York to Kassel in fall 1783 to spring 1784. It includes 1 colored diagram across a 2-page spread (f. 89v-90r). The remaining copies include a diary fragment by Colonel (Obersten) Carl Emil Kurt von Donop (f. 104-115), which pertains to the Battle of Trenton in December 1776, and excerpts from letters of other officers in the Hessian regiments, including Adjutant Henel, Lieutenant Henkelmann, Sergeant Flachshaar and Colonel (Hauptmann) Johann Caspar Ries, dating from April 1776 to February 1779 (f. 49r-57v). Some copies are from official documents concerning the Hessian participation, including testimony and other documents from the Hessian court of inquiry on the Battle of Trenton held in Philadelphia in April to May 1778 (Aus den Untersuchungsacten über die Affäre bei Trenton; f. 65-79), and excerpts from the ultimate finding of the court issued in April 1782 (f. 80r). Of the 2 original documents, one is a diary of an unidentified German soldier dated 18 May to 29 June 1776 (f. 116-125), written on board ship leaving from the English channel (Dover, Calais; f. 116r); it mentions Lieutenants Wiederhold and Briede (f. 116v). The other is the end fragment of a letter from Henkelmann, dated from Fort Knyphausen (Fort Washington), New York, in January 1777 (f. 129r-131v). Also included is a bibliography of German-published books and articles about the American Revolution, dating from 1785 to 1839, presumably compiled by the primary copyist (f. 62v). At the back of the volume is a clipping of an article of 1885 from a newspaper in Kassel (pasted in, f. 132-134), which, in a Hessian patriotic spirit, criticizes and discounts the popular view, revived in the plot of a newly published novel, that Hessian soldiers were sold into service during the American wars. Bound into the volume at the front is a cover note (addressed to Herrn Klaunig; f. i), probably by a previous owner, listing the major items in a different order from their order in the bound volume.
Various contemporary pagination; modern foliation in pencil, lower right recto: i, 1-134. Two gatherings, f. 82-91 and f. 92-103, respectively, comprising the Item Tagebuch von Caspar Recknagel, are laid in.
Of the 18 colored illustrations in the Wiederholdt diary, 10 are bound in (f. 2, 10, 27, 29, 33, 39, 40, 41, 45, and 46) and 8 have been removed and are housed in the same box with the bound volume (originally located following f. 2, 3, 6,18, 20, 25, 27, and 45).
Manuscript location:
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts University of Pennsylvania Ms. Coll. 773
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