Even in the 19th century, the country struggled to feed its population. The need of the people led to the fact that some put themselves as mercenaries in foreign war services and so procured money for the maintenance of their families, especially in the winter months. Others, however, signed long-term contracts. Good pay, especially for officers, and lifelong pensions enticed recruiters. In return, however, they also took a high risk. Only half survived.
On October 27, 1814, the state of Graubünden concluded a military capitulation (alliance of soldiers) with the United Netherlands on the establishment of a regiment. In the Regiment v. Sprecher No. 31 no less than 4402 young men signed up for military service until its disbandment in the autumn of 1829. The Grisonians came mainly from the Herrschaft, the home of the regiment's owner Jakob Sprecher v. Bernegg, from the Prättigau, the Vorderrheintal with its side valleys and the Domleschg.
Various members of the Köhl family entered such services. To be mentioned here are:
In 1789, the War Constitution at Chur lists the following 3 members of the Köhl family for the 3rd Infantry:
Soldiers in foreign service were mercenaries and fought not only in Europe for foreign powers, but also in the colonies of the great colonial powers. Thus, they were also involved in the conquest and subjugation of these countries. Since the soldiers went into service unmarried or without their wives, the occupiers sometimes created barracks concubinates, which allowed the soldiers to recruit domestic help from the local population. These relationships resulted in children, who were often left behind. However, many soldiers settled locally after completing their service and did not return home.
Often the soldiers were treated unfairly and badly, especially the men who suffered from poverty. Hired for many years, some of them never received their pensions. Often middlemen embezzled the pension payments. They also suffered from chronic debt and poor living conditions. Those who deserted were severely punished and transferred to penal companies.
In 1859, the ban on enlisting for foreign regiments sealed the end for foreign services.
Who is further interested in this topic: The author Erich Sutter has written a book entitled "No Rescue Possible" In this book he describes the experiences of the Zurich shoemaker Jakob Willi (1772-1804) who as a young man hired himself out as a mercenary and had to fight in distant countries.