Original Document
Original Document
Joseph Townsend’s observations from atop Osborne Hill. September 11, 1777.

September 11, 1777:

“When I arrived on the top of the hill I discovered on the eminence in Samuel Osborne’s field a number of my acquaintances who were standing near to a considerable number of persons on horseback and viewing them, and the different movements of the army; I joined in with them. It was now a time of some seriousness and alarm among them- the battle had commenced in earnest- little was to be heard but the firing of the musketry and the roaring of the cannon from the parties. It appeared that those on horse back were some of the principle officers of the British army with their aids, who had collected together to consult respecting carrying on the engagements to the best advantage. Among them was General Howe. He was mounted on a large English horse much reduced in flesh, I suppose from their being so long confined on board the fleet between New York and the head of the Chesapeake Bay, which was about six weeks, occasioned by contrary winds, &c. The general was a large, portly man, of coarse features. He appeared to have lost his teeth, as his mouth had fallen in. AS I stood alongside I had a full opportunity of viewing him as he sat on horseback, and had to observe his large legs and boots, with flourishing spurs thereon. While the officers were in consultation, and we viewing them together with the smoke issuing from the cannon and musketry, we heard a tremendous roaring of cannon, and saw the volume of smoke arising therefrom at Chadd’s ford.”…

“While we remained on Osborne’s Hill, we had the opportunity of making many observations- the engagement of both armies- the fields in front of us containing great heaps of blankets and baggage, thrown together to relieve the men for action- the regular march of the British army, consisting of horse and foot, artillery, baggage and provision wagons, arms and ammunition, together with a host of plunderers and rabble that accompanied the army. Almost the whole face of the county around appeared to be covered and alive with those objects. Their march continued about for hours.”...

Credit: Joseph Townsend, “Some Account of the British army, under the command of Gen. Howe, and of the battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777, and of the adventures of that day, which came to the knowledge and observation of Joseph Townsend.” Proceedings of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania No. 7 (June 23, 1846).
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