The American Revolution was the cause of a new and unexpected wave of Europeans to settle in Fredericktowne. Hessians, German mercenary soldiers from the Hesse region hired by the British to fight in the war, were captured in various battles and imprisoned in the Frederick Barracks in the south area of town. After finding friendly residents who shared their native German language, many Hessian soldiers made Frederick their home at war’s end rather than return to Europe.
The Frederick Barracks became known as the Hessian Barracks when the complex of buildings began to be used to imprison mercenary soldiers from Germany, 1780-1781. Thousands of Hessian soldiers who fought and lost in the battles of Yorktown, Saratoga, and Trenton were detained here. One of the Frederick Barrack remains, which has been preserved, remains on the grounds of the Maryland School for the Deaf. The outside of the building is open to the public.
Conrad Engelbrecht (1758-1819)
A tailor from Eichig, near present-day Bayreuth, Germany, Conrad Engelbrehtt was one of the many Hessian soldiers hired by the British to suppress the Revolutionary War. Like others, Conrad Engelbrecht later established himself in Frederick. He was the father of Jacob Engelbrecht (1797-1878), a tailor, former town mayor, and musician, whose diaries written from 1818-1878 chronicle life in Frederick.
Conrad’s son, Jacob Engelbrecht (1797-1878, pictured left) not only kept a diary, but he recorded history in his 20 tattered volumes, including details from marriages and deaths and from politics to his garden. He was a man of many occupations and hobbies that added to his entries. His meticulous entries for numbers were showcased as he counted the caravans of wagons passing his front door during the Civil War. He wrote in his father’s tongue which was a combination of archaic German, anglicized German, and misspelled German. Englebrecht’s sixty years of journaling provides the window of his life for us to enter.