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Brother Jonathan’s Images, No.


“An American Soldier”
Artist: Friedrich Konstantin von Germann
Year: circa 1778
Collection: Braunschweig Municipal Archives, Lower Saxony
Capt. Friedrich von Germann of the Hesse-Hanau Regiment Erbprinz served with Lt. Gen.
John Burgoyne’s forces in the 1777 Saratoga campaign. At some point in his ensuing
captivity (perhaps 1778) von Germann executed a series of drawings portraying soldiers of
various regiments involved in the northern campaign, two of which pictured an enlisted
man and officer of Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates’ army. These are some of the very few
contemporary images (in this case, copies of the originals which no longer exist) of
Continental common soldiers and company officers, and, as such, deserve further study.
The image above shows a Continental common soldier, likely a private. He wears a
regimental coat of gray with yellow facings, a straight-cut (possibly belted) gray waistcoat,
and brown breeches, with blue or blue-gray stockings. The brim of his round hat is turned
up on the left side, and is topped with a feather or perhaps a squirrel’s tail. He carries a
smoothbore firelock, likely made for military use judging from the bayonet hanging at his
right hip.
The soldier’s coat is interesting as much for the style and length as for the body and
facing colors. The coat is cut relatively short, and agrees with directions from Congress to
their Commissioners in France, dated 17 February 1777, that if they procure any clothing
for import the coats should be, “short skirted, according to the dress of our soldiery.” The
pointed cuffs and small turnbacks in the forepart of the skirt are also of interest. Though
hidden this image, interior pockets seem to have been another known attribute of many,
perhaps most, Continental Army coats of the period. A May 1777 advertisement for a
runaway apprentice described his “blue broadcloth coat lined with white shalloon … not
lappelled, but otherwise made in the fashion of the Continental army, the pockets inside the
skirts …”

The Pennsylvania Evening Post, 10 May 1777, vol. I, issue 350 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Detail from “The Battle of Paoli” by Xavier della Gatta. This and della Gatta’s “The Battle of
Germantown,” from various details known only to an eyewitness, must have been executed
at the direction of an officer present at both actions. The Pennsylvania soldier’s coat
pictured here may show pointed cuffs, and is cut short with small turnbacks as in the von
Germann rendering. It is notable that the coat above has only capes and cuffs, no facings.

Below we have a 1777-78 style regimental coat recreated for Capt. Andrew Fitch’s
company, 4th Connecticut Regiment, in this instance worn for the 2014 special event,
“Incomparable Patience and Fidelity: Encamping at Valley Forge.” Documentation of the
coat was done by Matthew Keagle, and presented in his monograph, “The Regimental Coat
of the 4th Connecticut Regiment, 1777-1778”
An attempt to identify the pictured soldier’s regiment is in order. Gibb Zea contributed
this curious reference in which a German officer writing from captivity at Cambridge,
Massachusetts, noted, “Few of the officers in General Gates army wore uniforms, and those
that were worn were evidently of home manufacture and of all colors. For example, brown
coats with sea-green facings, white linings, and silver dragons, and gray coats with yellow
buttons and straw facings, were to be seen in plenty.”
While that passage corroborates von Germann’s image, it does not refer to any particular
unit. With the advice of Matthew Keagle, who provided the initial deserter advertisement,
followed by examination of the redacted deserter descriptions in Charles Lefferts, Uniforms
of the American, British, French and German Armies of the American Revolution (1927),
Joseph Lee Boyle’s “’He loves a good deal of rum …’: Military Desertions during the American
Revolution, 1775-1783, volume 1, and the online “Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr,
Jr.,” all of the original ads were located. First Mr. Keagle’s contribution:
DESERTED from my Company in the 18th Regiment, commanded by Edmund Phinney, Esq;
stationed in Boston, the 12th Instant, David Crage, a Soldier, a short, stocky Man, about 24
Years of Age, had on when he Deserted, a cloth colour’d Coat with Buff facing, which is the
Uniform of the Regiment, a cloth colour’d double Breast’d Jacket, blue Breeches, and a
narrow brim’d felt Hat with white Binding; he came from the Eastward when he inlisted,
and it is likely he is gone there again. Whoever will apprehend the said Deserter, and bring
or send him to his Company and Regiment again, or secure him in any of the Continental
Goals, and send word to the Subscriber, so that he may be brought to said Company again,
shall have five Dollars reward, and all necessary Charges paid, by
Jeremiah Hill, Capt.
P.S. All Select-Men and Committees of Safety and Inspection, are desired to take particular
Notice of this Advertisement.
N.B. If said Deserter should return to his Company, and Duty again, of his own accord, it will
at least be a mitigation of his Crime.”
Continental Journal, June 20, 1776; June 27, 1776; July 4, 1776.

To date, Phinney’s 18th Continental regiment is the only unit known to have coat colors
even similar to the soldier pictured by von Germann. That said, the above notice calls the
“cloth colour’d” (perhaps drab wool) coats with buff facings “the Uniform of the Regiment,”
which is significant given other deserter descriptions that year from the same unit.

“DESERTED from Col. Edmund Phiney’s regiment, and Capt. Hart Williams’s company, on
the 13th of April, Stacy Blush, belonging to Barnstable; of dark complexion, short, black hair,
about 5 feet 9 inches high. --- And also, Jeremiah Clark, said he came from Connecticut; of
dark complexion, about 5 feet 8 inches high; he is about 22 years of age; had on when he
went away, a cloth colored regimental coat, turned up with white bright buttons, and a red
waistcoat. Whoever shall take up said deserters, or either of them, shall be handsomely
rewarded by me,
Boston, April 23, 1776. Hart Williams, Capt.”
New England Chronicle, April 25 1776

“DESERTED from Col. Edmund Phinney’s regiment, and Capt. Nathaniel Watkins's company,
Samuel Gage, belonging to Haverhill; about 5 feet 8 inches high, well set, of a red
complexion, of dark complection, light coloured, short curled hair, took with him a new gun
and bayonet, which was drawn from the province store, marked on the breech No. 18. Also,
Calvin Holleway, belonging to Malden, of dark complection, about 5 feet 8 inches high, had
on when he went away, a cloth-coloured regimental coat, faced and cuffed with white,
pewter buttons on the same. Whoever shall take up said deserters, or either of them, shall
have four dollars reward for each, and all necessary charges, paid by
Nathan Watkins, Capt.”
New England Chronicle, May 16 1776
“DESERTED from Capt. Wild’s Company, in Col. Phinney’s Regiment, on the 22d Instant, one
John Brown, an Irishman, about 50 Years old, talks broken English, of a sandy Complexion,
wears his own Hair; about five Feet six Inches high, had on when we went away a light
coloured Soldier’s Coat, turned up white, a purplish coloured Rifle Frock. Whoever will take
up said Soldier, and bring him to his Company, shall have Two Dollars Reward, and all
necessary Charges.”
The New England Chronicle, June 27, 1776; July 4, 1776; July 11, 1776.

If it was indeed true that cloth colored coats with buff facings were the regimental
uniform, the white facings mentioned in last three advertisements may indicate that buff
wool was in short supply and white wool was substituted. Buff wool seems to have been
difficult to procure in sufficient quantities throughout the war; yellow cloth was also used
in lieu thereof. In 1780 one division and five brigades where directed to provide troops for
a special review before the French ambassador. The contingents from Maj. Gen. Arthur St.
Clair’s division and brigadier generals Edward Hand’s and John Stark’s brigades gave a total of
384 privates; the same number of privates were taken from brigadier generals William
Maxwell’s, John Stark’s, and James Clinton’s three brigades. This indicates that there were to
be two separate ad hoc divisions formed for the review, one to wear only blue coats with red
facings, the other clothed in blue coats with buff facings.

General St. Clair's Capt. Sub. Serjt. P.
[Pennsylvania] Division to give ................ 6 18 26 288
Hand's Brigade ................ 2 4 4 48
Stark's Brigade (Blue and red).. 2 4 4 48
Maxwell's Brigade ................ 3 10 13 144
Stark's Brigade (Blue and Buff). 2 3 4 48
Clinton's Brigade ................ 5 13 17 192

Another copy of these same orders was found in an order book of the 2d Pennsylvania
brigade. That transcription shows that Clinton’s New York brigade had coats with yellow
facings instead of the preferred buff wool.

Head Quarters Morristown April 17th: 1780
Offrs. to morrow B. Genl. Hand
Lt. Colo. Conway
B. Major Hands Brigd.
Four Battalions to be paraded, on the Grand parade to morrow Morning at 9 OClk. Cols
Johnston[,] Cortland, Ogden & Jackson -- Lt. Cols Barber, Smith, Harmer and Huntingdon and
Major Fish are to attend at the same time

-- Gen. St Clairs Division to give 6 Captns. 18 Subns. 26 Serjts. 288 Rank & File [blue coats with
red facings]
-- Gen Hands Brigade 2 Capt. 4 Subns. 4 Serjts. 48 Rank & File [blue and red]
Genl Starks Brigade 2 Captn. 4 Subns. 4 Serjts. 48 R & File, Blue & Red.

Genl Maxwells [Brigade] 3 Capts. 10 Subn. 13 Serjts. 144 R & File. [blue and buff]
Genl. Starks Brigade 2 Captns. 3 Subn. 4 Serj, 48 R & File Blue & Buff,

Genl Clinton 5 Capts, 13 Subn. 17 Serjts, 192 R & File Blue & Yellow --
Nicholas Spadone, Alec Franzoni, and Gibb Zea, wearing coats based on the von Germann
“American Soldier” watercolor. (Photo taken at Fort Ticonderoga)

(Note: Of all the wool needed for Continental army uniforms, buff colored cloth seemed
often unavailable in needed quantities. If anyone knows of other instances of color
substitutions in regimental clothing during the War for Independence I would be interested in
learning of them;
If von Germann’s “American Soldier” was indeed formerly of the 18th Continental
Regiment of 1776, by 1777 that unit had been disbanded and its men transferred to two
new regiments. Two companies of the 18th Continental, plus two from the 6th Continental,
were merged with what remained of the 15th Continental Regiment, forming Col. Joseph
Vose’s (1st) Massachusetts Regiment (1777). At the same time, Col Samuel Brewer’s
(12th) Massachusetts Regiment of 1777 was formed from the remainder of the 18th
Continental Regiment (1776), and augmented with new recruits. Vose’s and Brewer’s
Regiments both served in the Saratoga Campaign in the following brigades:
Paterson's Brigade
Brig. Gen. John Paterson
Col. Thomas Marshall's [later 10th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment
Col. Ebenezer Francis' [later 11th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment
Col. Samuel Brewer's [later 12th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment
Col. Gamaliel Bradford's [later 14th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment

Glover's Brigade
Brig. Gen. John Glover
Col. Joseph Vose's [later 1st] Massachusetts Bay Regiment
Col. William Shepard's [later 4th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment
Col. Edward Wigglesworth's [later 13th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment, Maj. John Porter
Col. Timothy Bigelow's [later 15th] Massachusetts Bay Regiment, Maj. David Bradish
Battalion of Albany County, New York militia ("the First Regiment"), Col. Abraham Wemple
Battalion of Albany County, New York militia ("the Second Regiment"), Col. William Whiting
Battalion of Dutchess and Ulster County, New York militia, Col. Morris Graham

(For details of the Saratoga campaign and battles see, William A. Griswold and Donald W.
Linebaugh, eds., The Saratoga Campaign: Uncovering an Embattled Landscape (Lebanon, N.H.:
University Press of New England, 2016))

My thanks to Matthew Keagle, Eric Schnitzer, and Gibb Zea for their contributions.


Thomas M. Barker, “The Friedrich von Germann Watercolors,” Copies done in 1851-1852 by an
unknown artist of Captain Friedrich Konstantin von Germann’s original drawings created during
the [American] Revolution. The copies are preserved in the municipal archives of Braunschweig,
Lower Saxony … Includes information on von Germann’s military service. Journal of the Johannes
Schwalm Historical Association, vol. 7, no 4 (2004)

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection
The New York Public Library's Online Exhibition Archive
“Friedrich von Germann was a captain of a regiment from Hesse-Hanau, one of the many German
auxiliary troops hired by George III to fight in the American Revolution. He arrived in Canada in
1775, served in the southern campaigns, and was present at the surrender at Saratoga.
During the war, he painted a series of watercolors of American, British, and German soldiers. The
New York Public Library’s drawings are most likely 19th-century copies of von Germann’s
watercolors, possibly by the artists E. Sack and Kail (whose names appear on the drawings). They
were commissioned by the New York historian William Leete Stone to illustrate a personal copy of
his translation of the famous Hessian commander’s writings, ‘Memoirs, and letters and journals, of
Major General Riedesel during his residence in America.’”
Congress to Secret Committee, Feb. 17, 1777, quoted in Marko Zlatich, Specifications for Imported
Continental Army Uniforms, 1775-1778, Military Collector and Historian Vol. XXXXIV, No. 3 (Fall
1992), 120; from, Matthew Keagle, “The Regimental Coat of the 4th Connecticut Regiment, 1777-

Charles Lefferts, Uniforms of the American, British, French and German Armies of the American
Revolution (New York, NY, 1927), 76.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS., Nov. 15, 1777.
“A Private Letter from New England, Nov. 15, 1777, to Oct. 10, 1778,” William L. Stone, trans.,
Letters of Brunswick and Hessian Officers during the American Revolution, (Albany, N.Y.: Joel
Munsell's Sons, 1891). 106, 129-130.

“The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr.,” Massachusetts Historical Society

Continental Journal, June 20, 1776; June 27, 1776; July 4, 1776, Joseph Lee Boyle, “’He loves a good
deal of rum …’: Military Desertions during the American Revolution, 1775-1783, vol. 1, 1775-June 30,
1777 (two volumes; Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company, 2009), 83.

General orders, 17 April 1780, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the
Original Manuscript Sources 1745–1799, vol. 18 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,
1937), 268-269. Further corroboration of the same entry: Orderly Book of the 2d Pennsylvania
Brigade, February 13 - April 29 1780, Morristown National Historic Park Library, Ms. #1107.

Massachusetts Line (American War for Independence) Timeline of Unit Lineage

Eric Schnitzer, “Organization of the Army of the United States under the Command of Major
General Horatio Gates”

(Following page)
Top: Gibb Zea portraying a lieutenant, in a coat based on the von Germann drawing.
Bottom: Nicholas Spadone, Alec Franzoni, and Gibb Zea, wearing coats based on the von
Germann “American Soldier” watercolor. (Photos taken at Fort Ticonderoga)
Nicholas Spadone readying for a ration issue.
(Photo taken at Fort Ticonderoga)
Capt. Andrew Fitch’s company, 4th Connecticut Regiment, marching out of camp. 2014 special
event, “Incomparable Patience and Fidelity: Encamping at Valley Forge.”

Brother Jonathan’s Images Consortium
Neal T. Hurst
John U. Rees
R. Scott Stephenson
Matthew C. White

“The British were very civil, and indeed they generally were after they had received a check from
Brother Jonathan for any of their rude actions.” Connecticut soldier Joseph Plumb Martin writing
in his 1830 memoir of the October 1776 Battle of White Plains.

“It will give you great pleasure to hear that we gave Brother Jonathan a good trimming the other
day … we marched [at night] … in two columns, so as to be able to beat up his Lordships [Maj. Gen.
William Alexander, Lord Stirling’s] Quarters at day Break, the Right Column under Lord Cornwallis
in which I had taken was to command an advanced Squadron fell in with just a little after day Break
& we drove them Above the distance of eight Miles from height to height till at last Brother
Jonathan thought better to go quite off, we killed I believe a great many (though I cant say I saw
many… as we push[ed] on so quick,) …” Capt. Thomas Stanley, 17th Light Dragoon Regiment, writing
of the Battle of Short Hills on 26 June 1777, from “Camp near New York July 15 1777.”

To view other installments of Brother Jonathan’s Images …