On Friday morning (15 October 2010) the Babenhausen Veterans and Friends were welcomed by Babenhausen’s mayor (Burgermeisterin Gabriele Coutandin) into its city council chambers specially configured for the long-planned ceremony. Twelve of us former/retired Army officers along with our wives had returned to the duty station where we all served in the early 1960s. Our artillery unit was based in the Kaserne (military compound) just outside of town. Over the years this forward base housed 'STRAC' artillery units (two hours from combat, 24/7) whose mission was to plug the Fulda Gap about an hour or so to the northeast.
The main Kaserne facilities were built in 1901 on the site of a historical military base that goes back to the 18th century. One of the things we found out on this trip was that Babenhausen (which is in Hessen) was the home of the Hessians that Britain used in our Revolutionary War. And it was these same Hessians that General Washington crossed the Delaware River to rout on Christmas Eve 1776 and thereby change the course of the war which until then had been going poorly for the Americans.
The local count in the area that included Babenhausen ran into money problems with a noble lady he was pursuing in the 1770s. He had this finely trained regiment of Hessians at Babenhausen which appeared to have some value to King George III of England. (Recall that old George was really a German and that the court language of England in those days was German. English had yet to become a language of culture and learning in Europe. Everyone who was anybody spoke and corresponded in either French, German, or Latin with their equally uppity peers.) Anyway, the good count dropped a note to the King and a deal was made wherein the Hessian unit was literally ‘sold’ to England, which then shipped them off to fight its unpopular war du jour in America.