Casper the Friendly Hessian: Contemplating a Name for the Headless Horseman

person wearing jack o lantern face disguise

Photo by Corey Sitkowski on


March 4, 2020

Not too long ago, a few students in one of my classes started brainstorming, googling, and laughing about naming the Headless Horseman. We thought it ironic for him to be nameless and headless, so they took it upon themselves to help the guy out, by at least giving him a name.

First off, these two students wanted a name for the real headless horseman, a Hessian whose head was shot off by a canon during the Revolutionary War and buried, evidently without a name.

Secondly, students realized that the headless horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” would most likely be Brom Bones, maybe even Katrina herself, so a name for the prankster isn’t necessary, only the name of the ghost haunting the Hudson Valley.

Thirdly, my students are humorously entertaining a name for a Washington Irving Society mascot. A headless horseman seems appropriate, but doesn’t Washington Irving High School in Tarrytown, New York, already use the headless horseman as a mascot? And what might his name be?

In fact, does anybody anywhere have a name for the famous headless one?

According to, “The term ‘Hessians’ refers to the approximately 30,000 German troops hired by the English to help fight during the American Revolution.”

The National Park Service, at, identifies the names of some Hessians who died in St. Paul’s Church: Heinrich Euler, Conrad Roth, Johann Heinrich Grein, Daniel Schaef, and Ludwig Juppert.

One website claims to be “The largest offering of Hessian Information on the Internet.” AMREV-Hessians on provides some interesting data.

The site lists numerous names. Some first names listed include:

  • Johann
  • Franz
  • Wilhelm
  • Bartolomew
  • Adolf
  • Georg
  • Nicholas
  • Conrad
  • Peter
  • Casper
  • Barnard
  • Frederick
  • Adam
  • Anton

So far, my students think the Washington Irving Society Hessian should be named “Hoffman,” in honor of me, since it’s German. But I think we can come up with something catchier. Casper caught my eye, since we already associate ghosts with it. How about Casper Hoffman?

Let me know what you think, especially if you have insight into Hessian history. I didn’t dig too deep, but probably should probe some more before officially settling into a name. I see Washington Irving Society swag in the works.

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Until next week, please feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. Also feel free to message me at If you need a reply, please message me at I try to respond to all Washington Irving Society-related email on Wednesdays, and I also update the WIS page on Washington Irving Wednesdays.

Published in: on March 4, 2020 at 6:18 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ms. Hoffman,
    The Headless Hessian does indeed have a name – I’ve sent you an email to the address shown above with details and a bit of research. I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter!

    Christopher Rondina


  2. Helmut? Too close to the bone? a poor fit for a headless horseman? (sorry, in a twisted playful mood today.)


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