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Captain Christian Philipp Von Ellrodt service in the American Colonies for the British Army

Captain Christian Philipp Von Ellrodt served in the American Colonies for the British Army. Christian Philipp Von Ellrodt was the Great Great Great Grandson of Jacob Ellrod of Kulmbach, Germany. He was the nephew of Phillip Andreas Von Ellrodt who was the owner of the Neudrossenfeld Castle.

Ansbach-Bayreuth troops were employed by England during the American Revolutionary War by the English Army. Colonel William Faucitt, negotiated the treaties in 1776 to hire the “Hessian” mercenaries for service in North America.

The following is a letter written by Captain Christian Philipp Von Ellrodt’s friend Christian von Molitor to Ellrodt’s wife Rosine Wilhelmine Franziska Von Plotho back in Germany.

The letter was enclosed in an original journal of an Ansbach Bayreuth officer that was in the New York Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, Bancroft Collection, Hessian Manuscripts, No. 47 (Ansbach Papers), Volume 1, Part 3, No. 154.

The letter is as follows:

Field Camp outside Amboy, 24 June 1777

Dear Friend:

This is the third letter that I have written to you since I have been in America. I do not know if you have received them. I wish nothing more than to know how you and the children are doing, and if you are still my gracious and good friend and that you have not forgotten me. We are all well and it seems as if the strenuous duty makes your husband and me healthier and stronger. We are now in camp outside Amboy, about seven and one-half miles from New York. Today five English and Hessian regiments came from Brunswick, which is about fifteen miles from here, and joined us in camp. How long we are to remain here and where we are then to march, I am unable to write. General Howe and the main army moved forward a few days ago to attack General Washington, who is not far from Brunswick. The rebels were so well entrenched that it was impossible (to attack them), even if our army were twice as strong. Our pickets were attacked twice by the rebels. Captain (Frederick Ernst) von Beust and I were ordered to the reserve. We had to move forward and drive the enemy, consisting of about 300 men, out of the woods. We had to withstand many bullets before we forced them into the open, where we attacked with bayonets and drove them into flight. Only a grenadier of ours was wounded, and we killed three rebels.

I gave you a description of New York in my last letter, and also of Staten Island, where we were landed. Amboy is an open city where many white people lived, who can now be locked out of beautiful houses which were well furnished. At present there are not more than five families in all of Amboy. Most of the residents are with the rebels and have abandoned houses and property. Most of the houses are exceptionally well built and furnished with the finest carpets. All the houses stand open and can be occupied by anyone who so wishes. We have a house near us, not twelve yards from my tent, which we took over. We cook and eat therein, and do with it as we please. It is certainly a shame that everything will be destroyed and ruined. The land is extremely fruitful and everything grows in abundance. The very best soil in Germany does not compare to it. During peacetime it can be called a true paradise. Now, However, everything lies in ruin and none of the villages with houses has a living soul. We find here in the beautiful gardens, which have now been destroyed, all possible vegetables like we have in Germany, and especially lots of asparagus. The wooded areas are extensive and consist primarily of nut trees, oak and sassafras wood, of which we burn enough to supply all the pharmacists in the world. Here beer is brewed from bark. It tastes very sweet, but is very light and healthy. Large juniper trees are plentiful, and most of the hedges and trees in the fields are almond trees. There are apple trees everywhere, often stretching out for miles and all of the best kind, but no pear trees. The fruit which hangs on the trees is still very small, and the shoots and buds are still grass green. I believe everything in Bayreuth ripens about four weeks earlier. All classes of domestic animals are as in Germany, but the wild animals are different. The hares are small. They are a sort of rabbit. The birds are especially beautiful; some are quite red, green, blue, of various sizes. And canaries fly around (as thick) as sparrows in Germany. No plum trees or fig trees are to be seen. We eat oysters daily and they are especially large. They are not considered special here. I often wish you might have some at your table. Foodstuffs are very expensive. A calf cost (I cannot determine the money units in this paragraph, but possibly Reichsthalers ®, and small coins ©) 30-40 R. and is hard to come by. Two eggs cost 15c, a pound of butter 1R, and a quart of milk 35-50c, and similar for all fresh items. We still receive salted pork and peas and rice, just as we did aboard ship. We also receive a portion of rum to drink. For these, from both officers and men, 6c is withheld daily. We have received no pack horses and had to send all our baggage and saddles into storage at New York. Each officer has only a few shirts and stockings and that which is most essential with him, because each company had been given only one wagon on which the tents, blankets, and officers’ baggage must be loaded. The officers must be satisfied walking, regardless of how long the march might be. And anyone who does not which to die of thirst must carry his own canteen. Not staff officer has a horse. They must walk like all the rest. Therefore we have taken off our boots and wear long white linen breeches and shoes, with the sword on a belt over the shoulder and the canteen on the right side. Our hair has been cut short. You would laugh and be sorry for us were you to see us. We have received no forage money yet, and in many other areas the gracious intentions of our most gracious Prince have not been fulfilled. I wrote you in my last letter that I had been recommended for captain, but I have not yet been promoted. Colonel (Friedrich Ludwig Albrecht) von Eyb will wait until the 1st of July because he believes Captain (Andreas Friedrich) Rheyer should return (to the regiment in America). Your husband, considering his duties, is very fortunate. He cooks for himself and for his officers from the company, and they can rely upon him in every situation.

My dear (Captain Christian Phillip von) Ellrodt and I continue our close friendship. We are together the whole day and whatever one receives; he shares it with the other. During the evening we smoke tobacco and, if we are alone, talk about you and the dear children and wish you the best a thousand times. May God keep all of you healthy. I will not allow you to suffer any need, nor that your life be shortened because of hunger. My Ellrodt has promised me that he will send you twenty ducats by this opportunity. Therefore, do not live so miserly as to ruin your health. Our daily longing and wish is to receive a letter from you. When I know that you and your dear children are healthy, I will be completely satisfied. Do not forget you true and constant friend and do not take your friendship, which I value above all others, away from me. There are few minutes when I do not think of you. How happy I would be if I were fortunate enough to see you and the dear children again. God grand us our health so that we can survive all the fatigue. The land is as wholesome as in Germany, if one can only hold on. During the day the heat is very great, and then at night again cold. You yourself know, my dear friend, that I was often sick while traveling. Here on land, not even a finger has caused me pain. Be so kind as to recommend me to your gracious married sister and her husband. Tell them I often think of them. I am sure that your sister and her husband will do everything possible for you. I am sending my journal to you herewith. In it you will find (an account) of our entire trip and up to today. I know you will take time to read it. After you have read it, please be so kind as to send it to my father along with this letter. You will do me a favor if you will write some lines to my father. Do not allow anyone but your brother-in-law and Lieutenant von Diskau to see this journal. It might possibly offend some people, as I am not a man of learning. I recommend my self again to your favor a million times and kiss your hand. Write to me as to whether Friz and Sophie still remember me. Whenever our recruits arrive here, I will take the opportunity to send you something from America. I have already written to you that Lieutenant (Karl Alexander) von Weitershausen had the misfortune to lose his mind. A Captain (Friedrich Karl) von Weitershausen was also killed in America. Adieu my precious one. May God keep you in good health and bless you. Don’t worry too much. God will watch over us here also. And, regardless of what happens, I remain yours, with body and soul, as long as God and the rebels allow me to live.

Christian von Molitor

When we march, it may well be against Boston. When we again return to Ansbach, I will bring you a black slave. If you talk about me to good friends, you will place me in your debt if you recommend me to them. Do not forget Major (possibly Karl Ernst Johann) von Bose. I will bring you American feathers, pearls, and jewels. Kiss you scholars frequently for both of us. Write me often. I must always wear a mask before my face here so that my tender skin is not ruined and does not turn black.—–


Per Henry Retzer the following letter written 10 days after the above letter appears to be written to Lt. Ellrodt in Germany and is thought to be the brother of Capt. Ellrodt. The lady in the above letter is probably Capt. Ellrodt’s wife who per Stadtler’s thesis on the Ansbach-Bayreuth troops is Rosine Wilhelmine Franziaka von Plotho. Stadtler also mentions a son born in 1772. This child would have been 4 years old when von Molitor was there, which seems about right.

AB [1Lt v.MOLITOR], 04Jul77, Bancroft: Ansbach vol.1, pt.3 #155a, translated and furnished by the Henry J. Retzer of Hannover, PA in Oct. 1999.

Copy of a letter to the honorable Captain Ellrodt here from an Officer of the Ansbach Regiment on Staten Island, dated 4 July 1777.

On 24 [June 1777] I had the pleasure of writing you from our Camp at Amboy[, NJ]. I sent you my journal and your honorable brother, who is completely healthy, sent along a letter with 20 ducats to his wife. I will be happy if you receive our letters soon and safely, as I made a very detailed report. We gave the letters with the money to a Waldeck lieutenant who brought over a transport of recruits and has since departed for Germany. We addressed them to the honorable Lieutenant-Colonel von Schlammersdorf. We have not had any letters from Germany and very much yearn for them. I especially would like to know how you are. This is the fifth letter I have written you from America. I am not afraid that you will find it unmannerly of me or that I am boring.

On 26 June our two grenadier companies, plus five English regiments and a Hessian grenadier battalion had to make a march of 24 English miles from Amboy in the greatest heat against the Rebels. Only the Hessian battalion came under fire, they made 80 prisoners and captured three cannons. The entire road was filled with Rebels that had been shot by us and the Hessian jaegers. Our company had two men who collapsed from the heat and were immediately dead. The English had 15 heat deaths and the Hessian jaegers five men. Our jaegers have won much praise from the entire army and are in contact with the enemy almost daily. They shoot the Rebels dead like rabbits. The honorable brother had to make the 24-mile march and take over the honorable Captain von Eckert’s grenadier company because of unforseen circumstances. Von Eckert’s condition was soon cleared up. Lieutenant von Soden lies somewhat sick in New York, otherwise all of the honorable officers are healthy. I wrote you before that all captains and subalterns are on foot. This way they will observe all the features of this land and perhaps find something remarkable. The inflation here is enormous – what we could buy for one Reichsthaler in tough times will cost one Guinea here. Our men still receive salt pork and old hardtack daily. They received fresh meat only twice in this country. As soon as we go forward against the enemy we will have enough of everything. On our last difficult march we occupied an entire
city with all manner of livestock, copper, pewter, white goods and all household articles. Our men stabbed more than 200 swine and left them lay. The tears stand in my eyes when I see this beautiful and bountiful land and have to be a witness to how everything is ruined. The entire army under the command of Field Marshall Howe broke camp at Amboy on 1 July, returned here to Staten Island, and is camped on the seashore. There are 150 transport ships at anchor here plus a few warships which will in a few days take us to Canada or New England. We have been ordered to have fresh provisions for three weeks on hand. If we are sent to New England we will live well. According to the English officers there is a surplus of everything there that can be purchased reasonably. P.S. I have had a leather belt made to fill with Guineas. I can assure you that the part of America through which we marched can by all rights be compared with Paradise; only the devil is at fault for spreading the seeds of discord. It is a shame that everything is being ruined and destroyed. My heart bled as we marched back (our company had the rear guard) from [New] Brunswick and had to torch all houses. In Brunswick itself no house or window remained whole, all furniture was thrown in the street including white goods and the nicest copper and pewter. Bedding was cut open and the feathers scattered. A shortage of wagons made it impossible to take anything along. Some grenadiers took pocket watches, silver spoons, and tea & coffee cans. Most houses were grand and built in the Dutch style with the finest wallpapers. Nothing but pride, greed and desire brought these people to rebellion. No landowner works in the least; they have blacks who are slaves, these must work the land and the inhabitants pass their lives in leisure. One can see nothing more beautiful then our camp. The entire army is camped along the seashore. In front of us lies a fleet I estimate at 200 ships. About one hour to the left is New York City where there are so many ships at anchor that in the distance it looks like a forest. We encounter enough Germans here in America, particularly in New York;
they hail from all cities in Germany. The honorable General von Heister who commanded the Hessian troops here has been recalled to Germany by his son; he departed from the army on 24 June. Yesterday we received news that a packet-boat arrived in New York which sailed from Portsmouth on 8 May with mail for the army. Everyone hoped and wished for mail. The honorable Colonel von Voit immediately sent an officer to New York, but he returned today empty-handed. Our hope and joy was in vain. If you would have written to me at Portsmouth, as I suggested in my letters from Hanau and Dortrecht, I would have certainly received news from you. Lieutenant von Weikershausen is completely mad, and will probably be sent home. I am very sorry for this unfortunate man. Also the regimental surgeon Pflug will die in several days of consumption. The honorable brother and I are the luckiest of officers as we have such good servants, they cook for both of us so we always have fresh things and occasionally a prize. If one has nothing and the other has something, we help each other out and live quite well and conserve our health this way. We have to be satisfied, if only we would receive news from all of you and from my parents.

The above information was found on the public website rootsweb at the following address:

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