Original Document
Original Document
Joseph Townsend’s recollections of the Battle of Brandywine at the Birmingham Friends Meeting House. September 11, 1777.

September 11, 1777
...“We remained on the hill for some time, and when the engagement appeared to be nearly over, or at least that part of it which was in view, and the day being on the decline, we were about retiring; but as admiration and curiosity had been the order of the day, I proposed to some of my companions that we should go over to the field of the battle and take a view of the dead and wounded, as we might never have such an opportunity. Some of them consented, and others with some reluctance yielded. We hastened thither and awful was the scene to behold- such a number of fellow beings lying together severely wounded, and some mortally- a few dead, but a small proportion of them considering the immense quantity of powder and ball that had been discharged.

It was now time for the surgeons to exert themselves, and divers of them busily employed. Some of the door of the meeting house were torn off and the wounded carried thereon into the house to be occupied for an hospital, instead of the American sick for which it had been repairing some days previous.

The wounded officers were first attended to- several of distinction had fallen, and as every thing appeared to be in a state of confusion, and we being spectators and assistance required, some of our number, at the request of the surgeons, became active in removing them therein- of whom I was none. I should have been willing to have been informed who they were, but it was not a time for inquiry, and I do not recollect to have heard the name of one of them mentioned at the time. After assisting in carrying two of them into the house I was disposed to see an operation performed by one of the surgeons, who was preparing to amputate a limb, by having a brass clamp or screw fitted thereon, a little above the knee joint, he had his knife in his hand, the blade of which was a circular form, and was about to make the incision, when he recollected that it might be necessary for the wounded man to take something to support him during the operation. He mentioned to some of his attendants to give him a little wine or brandy to keep up his spirits, to which he replied, “No, doctor, it is not necessary, my spirits are up enough without it.” He then observed, “that he had heard some of them say there was some water in the house, and if there was he would like a little to wet his mouth.”

As I was listening to the conversation and waiting for the water to arrive, one of my companions caught me by the arm and mentioned that it was necessary to go out immediately, as they were fixing the Picquet Guards, and if we did not get away in a few minutes we should have to remain within the lines of encampment during the night. I instantly complied, and we saved our distance, and were at Liberty to return home.”....

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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