Johann Gottlieb Rall

Portrait by Artist to Come

c. 1726 in Hesse-Kassel (now part of Germany)
27 December 1776 in Trenton, New Jersey

  • Buried the cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Trenton, New Jersey.


Johann Gottlieb Rall, a German colonel who served during the American Revolutionary War, was born in 1726, in Hesse-Kassel. He was a son of Captain Joachim Rall from Stralsund, who served in the regiment of Major General Carl Emil von Donop.

Rall began his military career in 1740, when he joined the army of the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He served in the Seven Years’ War (1756—63), fighting on the side of the British against the French. Rall quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1762.

In 1775, Rall was sent to North America to fight in the American Revolutionary War, serving under British General William Howe.

He was given command of a regiment of Hessian troops and was sent to New Jersey. In December of 1776, Rall and his troops were stationed in Trenton, New Jersey, when they were surprised by a group of American soldiers led by General George Washington. Despite being outnumbered and caught off guard, Rall led his troops into battle. However, the Hessian troops were quickly defeated by the Americans, and Rall was mortally wounded with two shots to his side. He was carried back to his headquarters and died the next day.

Rall’s death was a significant loss for the British and Hessian forces, as he was an experienced and respected military leader. His death also had a profound impact on the course of the war, as it boosted the morale of the American soldiers and helped to turn the tide of the conflict in their favor.

Johann Gottlieb Rall is remembered as a brave and loyal soldier who gave his life in service to his country. His legacy lives on in the town of Trenton, where a marker commemorates his headquarters and death.



What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)