The soldiers from several German principalities who were contracted to supplement the British army in America are often called mercenaries, a misnomer propagated during the war itself to vilify these soldiers and enhance the impression of British oppression. Although the British government did pay for these soldiers, they paid the German princes who then sent regiments from their own armies to fight in America. The soldiers themselves were no more mercenary than any other soldiers in the pay of their own governments
As in all armies of the era, desertion was a problem in the German regiments in America. Many of the German soldiers chose to remain in America when the war ended, but many of those were not deserters in a strict sense but prisoners of war who chose not to return when they were released. But others deserted outright. As with the British, very few German deserters were advertised in newspapers. Here is one of the few:
Deserted from my company in the Hessian Regiment of Losberg, in the night of the 7th instant, a Soldier named John Ansell, a native Frenchman, 24 years old, five feet one inch high, marked with the small-pox, when he went off he wore his regimentals, a blue coat faced with orange. It is likely the above deserter may be concealed either in this city or Long-Island, whoever should discover him, is desired to give notice to the regiment of Losberg, de Altenbockum, Captain.
[Royal Gazette (New York), 10 November 1779]
What is noteworthy about this soldier is that he was not German at all, but French. This exemplifies an important attribute of all of the armies in the conflict: they included soldiers of many nationalities, serving side-by-side within each regiment. Battalions of British regulars were composed primarily of English, Scottish, and Irish men, but usually included a smattering of continental Europeans (Germans, Poles, Swedes, French and others) and some Americans; American regiments included many soldiers born in Great Britain and continental Europe; French regiments included Germans and other Europeans. It must have been fascinating to stroll through the ranks of any regiment in any of the armies!
The Johannes Schwalm Historical Association is dedicated to the study of Hessian and other German-states soldiers who served in the American Revolution.