Lions, Tigers, Hessians, Oh My!

During the Revolutionary War, the Barracks (located west of the shopping center; today a horse stable) was a prison for British and German troops captured at The Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. A German Hessian SoldierThey were originally imprisoned by Revolutionary forces in Massachusetts, but within the year they marched 628 miles to the more hospitable climate of Charlottesville, Virginia. The term “hessian” is a reference to the German mercenaries who fought for the British. Hence, the nearby housing development on Georgetown Road called “Hessian Hills.” Although no prisoner list survives, estimates suggest over 4,000 prisoners lived at the Barracks. By the spring of 1779, locals described the camp as a small town with a commissary store, a coffeehouse, and a theater. Despite these amenities, over 1,000 prisoners escaped between 1779 and 1780. Many of the German soldiers settled in the Shenandoah Valley and became American citizens.