Sleepy Hollow

I mentioned “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in the epilogue of my book The Hessians and the American Revolution: The Whole Story.  In the original version, written by Washington Irving in 1820, the Headless Horseman was said to be the ghost of a Hessian decapitated by a cannonball in a fictional battle of the American Revolution.

In the new television series Sleepy Hollow, however, the Headless Horseman is not a Hessian but a British redcoat.  Instead of losing his head to a cannonball, he is decapitated by Ichabod Crane.  Furthermore, the Headless Horseman is depicted as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The German Hessians who fought with the British against the Americans in the Revolutionary War are generally less well-known today than when Irving wrote his story.  The writers of the television series probably thought that many people today would not understand who the Hessians were.  Instead the network opted for a major overhaul of the original story, appealing to popular interest in science fiction and a broad “saving the world from evil” approach.