A History of Emmerick's Chasseurs
Emmerick's was a corps that evolved and took on a new life as it went along. It was organized in 1777 by Captain Andreas EMMERICK, a German officer who had earlier that year proposed to raise a corps of 1000 men in Germany. This was rejected by the British. During the 1776 Campaign he had briefly commanded the guides of the army, which went on to become the Guides & Pioneers. He then went to England to solicit leave to raise his thousand men.
After being rejected, he returned to America and apparently convinced Lieutenant General CLINTON to give him a small command. In August of 1777 CLINTON ordered 100 active "marksmen" to be drawn from the Provincial Corps at Kingsbridge and rearmed with rifles, under the command of EMMERICK. These officers and men were drawn from the 2nd Battalion DeLancey's Brigade, New York Volunteers, Loyal American Regiment, King's American Regiment and Prince of Wales American Volunteers. An additional fifty men from the Independent Companies (Hierlihy's Corps) acted with the Chasseurs, apparently for bayonet support.
The uniform for 1777, as far as we know, was that of the regiments from which the men were drawn - that is to say, green coats faced white, white waistcoats and trousers. Three deserters the ensuing January were noted as having brown watchcoats.
The corps distinguished itself during the Hudson Highland Campaign under CLINTON, and figured prominantly in the attack on Forts Clinton and Montgomery. After 1 January 1778 the complexion of the corps changed when EMMERICK was granted permission to recruit at large and expand the unit. Those Provincials who wished leave to return to their former regiments were allowed to do so.
The corps in 1778 went from one rifle company to two troops of light dragoons, one light infantry company, one rifle company, and three chasseur companies. In April of 1778 EMMERICK himself was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and the corps settled in on the lines at Kingsbridge. The majority of the men were from Westchester County, New York, and adjacent parts of Connecticut. One of the troops of light dragoons apparently was raised on Long Island. The corps took part in numerous skirmishes along the lines, and twice entered New Jersey. Some recruits were raised at Philadelphia, and one of them was killed at the Battle of Monmouth.
There is no record of what the uniform of the corps was after 1777. One account from a British newspaper described their uniform as gray. This would be somewhat odd, as no gray uniforms were ever sent from England. Gray was the color of the Austrian Jagers or Chasseurs, but EMMERICK was from Hanau and had fought against the French and Austrians in the Seven Years War. The riflemen definitely had hangers, as described in a court martial proceeding.
New uniforms were obtained around September/October 1778, as another court martial involved an officer's negligence in bringing the pattern to New York City. It gives no details, but it does indicate they were not taking whatever came off the shelf from the Provincial Stores.
By 1779 the corps had fallen into a state of civil war. Of the 18 officers, half opposed EMMERICK (all American), and the other half (all Europeans) supported him. The corps still participated in many raids, but a good number of the officers were placed under arrest and many of the men deserted. To keep the corps from devolving into mutiny, Sir Henry CLINTON ordered it drafted into other regiments.
As an interesting side note, word was brought to Inspector General Alexander INNES and Lord RAWDON, the Adjutant General, that more men would desert before the appointed day to draft them. To avoid that, RAWDON ordered the distribution of the men to take place a day earlier. Lt. Col. John Graves SIMCOE was annoyed at that, as he had no officer then at Kingsbridge to scoop up some of these men. SIMCOE was then having dinner with CLINTON and let him know his displeasure. CLINTON fumed at not knowing the drafting had been moved up and started screaming at everyone concerned. RAWDON was so chagrined that he resigned as Adjutant General. He remained in his command of the Volunteers of Ireland, though, but his relationship with CLINTON was never the same.
As for the officers and men of Emmerick's, one troop of light dragoons was formed under the command of Captain Christian HUCK and given to the British Legion. The rifle company was reconstituted and made a part of the New York Volunteers. Other men made it into the Volunteers of Ireland, Queen's Rangers, and 3rd Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade.
As for EMMERICK, he remained in America and hung out around Kingsbridge, occasionally going on expeditions, but he never commanded his own corps again. His second in command, former West Jersey Volunteer Major Gabriel DeVEBER, moved on to the 3rd Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade.
The Rifle Company that was made a part of the New York Volunteers was a part of the fleet going to the Siege of Charlestown, but was blown to England in a storm. There, they put in for new uniforms: short green coats faced red, green waistcoats, breeches, plain black cocked hats, 30 hole "carbine cartridge boxes" with black or brown belts and new swords and sword belts, also black or brown, with a large buckle in place of a breastplate. They would have appeared very much like Jagers. This company arrived back in America in early Fall of 1780 and was supposed to be a part of LESLIE's expedition to Virginia. For some unknown reason, that order was cancelled. They would later be a part of ARNOLD's expedition there and surrender at Yorktown.
After the war EMMERICK wrote a book in London, entitled "The Partisan in War; or the use of a corps of light troops to an army," published in 1789. Afterwards, EMMERICK returned to Germany and made a name for himself of sorts during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1809 he attempted to abduct Jerome Bonaparte, who was put on the throne of Westphalia by Napoleon. For this he was shot.
Click here for ---> Regimental History Main Page
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies