Patriots Week 2017 in Trenton could be the coldest since General George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Eve in a Nor’easter to win the Battle of Trenton over the British and their Hessian allies, who were the topic of discussion for the NJ State Library’s program as part of the week’s festivities on Dec. 27.
Before a full house, author Peter Lubrecht discussed the Hessians that helped fight for Britain during the Revolutionary War. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, his entertaining presentation gave some insight as to why they were fighting and how they got here. Stories of their exploits still circulate in New Jersey, from the headless Hessian of the Morristown Swamp to the mysterious Ramapo Mountain people. Lubrecht helped navigate the myths of Hessian troops in New Jersey, separating fiction from fact, especially regarding the Battle of Trenton.
“Writers have Washington winning because the soldiers were drunk, but the German soldiers would not have been drinking on Christmas Eve; more likely it was because of a Nor’easter that hit. It froze the guns of those on duty and reduced visibility so they could not see Washington’s 2400 troops come ashore,” he explained.
Lubrecht came to write the book because of a fascination with family history and genealogy that has to do with American and German history. This fascination led to his curiosity about the strange German mercenaries in the “tin hats” who came with the British during the Revolution. His research took him to Germany where he visited the city where the German troops were housed before importing to America. He then visited the town with the port from which the German troops left their home country. Returning to the U.S., Lubrecht researched and followed the Hessian map and the movements they took through New York and New Jersey during the Revolution. “A lot has been lost, because those who deserted changed their names so they would not be shot,” he said.
Peter Lubrecht has a Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from New York University, and a Masters Degree in English and Drama Theory from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. He studied with the late Lowell Swortzell the founder of the Educational Theatre Program at NYU, as well as with Nellie McCaslin, the Creative Dramatics pioneer, and the late Stephen Palestrant, noted theatre historian and set designer. He presents internationally and nationally on youth theater, historical Shakespeare productions from the actor’s point of view, theatrical pedagogy, research, writing, and youth and school productions. He is an avid researcher with an interest in historical theater and has lectured locally on the Civil War and 19th Century American Theatre.
He has acted in many dramas and musicals. His experience includes years of award winning high school, community and professional theatre productions. Lubrecht is currently an adjunct professor of writing at Berkeley College. Prior to that he was with Lehman University Graduate School, Lincoln Center (Performing Arts in the English Classroom), Jersey City University, Bergen, Morris and Passaic community colleges, and finished his high school career as a drama teacher at the Cecily Tyson School of Performing Arts.
He has written four books: NJ Hessians, Liebe Kück – the story of a World War I German soldier, New Jersey Butterfly Boys in the Civil War and Germans in New Jersey.
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