Friday, March 31, 2017

Von Germann and Stephen Strach

Captain Friedrich von Germann served in the  Hesse-Hanau regiment during the Saratoga campaign of 1777.  One of the many German auxiliary troops hired to fight during  the American Revolution by the British he arrived in Canada in 1776 and was present at the surrender at Saratoga 1777.

During the war, he painted a series of watercolors of American, British, and German soldiers. Most students of uniforms or the Saratoga campaign are familiar with his watercolors usually through the copies which are in the New York Public Library.  But these  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 “Memoirs, and letters and journals, of Major General Riedesel during his residence in America.”

The late historian Stephen G. Strach located and had copies made of many of the original watercolors.  Stephen was a amazing researcher and historian with the National Park Service.  I was honoured to work with him on the American Battlefield  Protection Program and on various details to Saratoga National Historical Park.  I learned more from him and his wealth of knowledge then any other historian I worked with.  An battlefield walk of the Freeman Farm area helped to better understand the action there and will live on in my memoires.

 The original water colors are located in the archives of the city of Brunswick in Germany.  There were more water colors done then previously though and additional views of other British regiments were available.  Stephen had been working on a history of von Germann and his water colors as well as the uniforms of the Saratoga campaign.  He was kind enough to share with me many of these water colors, and I promised to not share these until his publication.  Unfortunately his untimely death in 2005 ended the project and our friendship.

I recently found the copies of the von Germann water colors Stephen gave me.  As he will not be publishing his work I feel I can now share these wonderful and informative water colors.  I hope that they can be of use to students of the Saratoga campaign.  My only request is please give credit to Stephen G. Strach for finding and placing these in the public view.  I hope it is one small way I can help my late friend and perpetuate his memory.  Thank you.


  1. Excellent watercolor plates! My own 28mm AWI project focused on the Saratoga campaign with the German contingents being my focus. I will have to check to see how I did.
    THank you for sharing!

  2. Bookmarked for future reference. Thanks Mark! Wonderful.