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Dyckman House Museum

Hessian Hut

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This building is a reconstructed military hut that was occupied by Hessian officers who were fighting on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War (1776 to 1783). It was one of more than sixty huts from an encampment between present-day 201st and 204th Streets along Prescott Avenue.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the British invaded New York City, forcing George Washington and the American army out of Manhattan in a series of crushing defeats. The British then used Manhattan as a base from which to launch further campaigns and station troops. Hundreds of huts like this one were built in Northern Manhattan, each one housing up to eight men.

Most of the soldiers camped in Northern Manhattan were Hessians, from the German principality Hesse-Cassel. They had been forced into the army by their prince, Frederick II, who had sold their services to the British without their consent. Many were weak and old, and few had any desire to come to America to fight another country’s war.

Amateur archaeologist Reginald Pelham Bolton excavated the site of the hut camp in the early 20th century, uncovering valuable information about the lives of the soldiers who lived there. He dismantled this hut and rebuilt its foundation here in 1915. The rest were demolished to make way for apartment houses.

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