In "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," who do the villagers think is the Headless Horseman, and how did he lose his head?
The people of the village of Sleepy Hollow claim to know the general identity of the spirit known as the Headless Horseman. They say that he is
the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannonball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever seen by the countryfolk, hurrying along in the gloom of the night as if on the wings of the wind.
Hessian troopers were German soldiers who fought on the side of the British in the Revolutionary War, which took place when America declared its independence from England. Historians in the Sleepy Hollow area believe that the body of the soldier was buried in a churchyard near the town and that the ghost rides, each night, to the scene of the battle in which he lost his head to the cannonball. They say that he is always in a big hurry to return to his final resting place, his grave in that churchyard, before dawn.