The 2023 Society of the Cincinnati Prize honors Friederike Baer, Ph.D., professor of history at Penn State Abington and her book Hessians: German Soldiers in the American Revolutionary War (Oxford University Press, 2022). In this special event, Dr. Baer receives Cincinnati Prize and discusses her deeply researched examination of the German auxiliaries.
Between 1776 and 1783, Great Britain hired an estimated 30,000 German soldiers to fight in its war against the American rebels. Collectively known as Hessians, the soldiers and accompanying civilians, including hundreds of women and children, spent extended periods of time in locations as dispersed and varied as Canada, West Florida, and Cuba. They penned a large body of private and official records that provide detailed accounts of the American war as well as descriptions of the built and natural environment, local customs and manners, the prevalence of slavery, and encounters with Native Americans. Based chiefly on these writings, Dr. Baer’s book offers a ground-breaking reimagining of Britain’s war against American independence from the perspective of the German soldiers, a people uniquely positioned both in the midst of the war and at its margins.
The Society of the Cincinnati Prize recognizes the author of an outstanding book that advances understanding of the American Revolution and its legacy. Established in 1989 as a triennial award, the prize is now presented annually. Honorees have included leading historians as well as rising scholars in the field. The prize was created with a generous endowment gift from the family of Dr. H. Bartholomew Cox.