William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
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Finding aid created by
Richard and Francis Browne Papers, 1756-1765
Rob S. Cox, August 1990
Richard and Francis Browne papers
The Browne brothers, Richard and Francis, had long careers as officers in the British Army during the mid-eighteenth century. From 1757, when Francis arrived in North America the brothers wrote home regularly to their father in Ireland, reporting on their experiences and on their progress as soldiers during the French and Indian and Seven Years Wars.
Language: The material is in English
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Richard and Francis Browne papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The Browne brothers, Richard and Francis, had long careers as officers in the British Army during the mid-eighteenth century. From 1757, when Francis arrived in North America, through at least 1765, the brothers wrote home regularly to their father Jeremiah, in Kinsale, Ireland, reporting on their experiences and on their progress as soldiers during the French and Indian and Seven Years Wars.
In April, 1756, Francis Browne enlisted as a Lieutenant in the 28th Regiment of Foot, which, during the following summer was sent to Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia [located in present day New Brunswick], 'a disagreeable place.' Browne was almost immediately engaged in action with Indians and French inhabitants, narrowly escaping during an ambush by a combined party of French and Indians (1757). The 28th Regiment went on to participate in the capture of Louisburg, in an expedition led by James Wolfe against Gaspie (sic) and other Acadian settlements (1758), and in the Battle of Quebec. In 1761, the Regiment was given orders to march from Quebec to a staging area on Staten Island, where it was to become a part of a massive expeditionary force to the West Indies under Monckton's command.
While convalescing from a bout of yellow fever contracted during the Siege of Havana (1762), Browne was informed that his close friend, General Howe, had purchased an available Captain Lieutenancy for him. Browne apparently felt deeply indebted to Howe for several years thereafter, though Howe refused to be repaid.
After the peace of 1763, Browne's unit was disbanded, he returned home and was placed on half pay when his unit was reduced. He remained in the 28th of Foot, however, and saw service a second time in America, attaining the rank of captain shortly before the Revolution.
Richard Browne's military career began with his enlistment as a Lieutenant in the 51st Regiment of Foot in January, 1756. The 51st Regiment played a vital role for the allies during the German campaigns of 1758-1763, being deployed in East Friesland and Prussia throughout most of the War. Browne was witness to several major battles, including the rout of French forces at Minden (1759), and battles at Corbach (1760), Warburg (1760), and Kloster Kampen (1760-61). After Minden, Browne wrote that there were "four or five miles of plain coverd with human bodies dead and dying miserably butchered dead horses wheels and carriages and arms of all kinds...[the French] cannot conceive how it was possible for a few Regiments of infantry in an open plain to defeat 37 Squadrons of the best cavalry of france...unless by the obstinacy that the English are often remarkable for."
More openly ambitious than his brother, Richard was very anxious that the war would not last long enough for him to earn promotion, writing at one point that he hoped his father's prayers for peace will not be answered before another campaign can be completed. After the peace, the 51st Regiment was sent to Enniskillen, Ireland, where Browne finally received his Captain Lieutenancy (1768).
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Browne papers consist of 6 letters written by Francis Browne (1757-1763), 16 written by Richard (1757-1765), and one written by their father, Jeremiah, to Richard (1760 February 1). Francis' letters provide excellent descriptions of his service in Nova Scotia, including descriptions of Halifax and Fort Cumberland, and of the Wolfe expedition against Gaspee, and a fine description of the capture of Havana. Following his bout with yellow fever and his promotion to Captain Lieutenant, Francis frequently expresses his gratitude and indebtedness to General Howe for his kindness.
The descriptive power of Richard Browne's letters surpasses that of his brother. Browne not only provides powerful accounts of battles (e.g., Minden) and military life, but he provides several excellent descriptions of sights he has seen, including York Minster, the town of Emden, a Lutheran crypt in Bremen in which bodies are mummified, and, most interestingly, Patrick's Purgatory, a site in Lough Derg, Ireland, where pilgrims come to be "purged of all their sins."
- Amherst, Jeffrey Amherst, Baron, 1717-1797.
- Great Britain. Army--Promotions.
- Great Britain. Army--Regiment of Foot, 28th.
- Great Britain. Army--Regiment of Foot, 51st.
- Howe, William Howe, Viscount, 1729-1814.
- Seven Years' War, 1756-1763.
- United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763.
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Richard and Francis Browne papers, 1756-1765 December 27 [series]:
Additional Descriptive Data
Amherst, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, 1st baron, 1717-1797Aristocracy--PrussiaAurick (Germany)--DescriptionBoscawen, GeorgeBremen (Germany)--DescriptionBrowne, FrancisBrowne, RichardBuck, ThomasCassell (Germany)--History--Siege, 1761Corbach, Battle of, 1760Cornwallis, Edward, 1712/3-1776Crypts--GermanyCuba Expedition, 1762Embden (Germany)--DescriptionEmbden (Germany)--History--1740-1786Enniskillen (Ireland)--DescriptionEye--Diseases and defectsFort Cumberland (N.S.)Furye, Noel, d. 1760Gaspee (N.S.) Expedition, 1758Great Britain. ArmyGreat Britain. Army--ManeuversGreat Britain. Army--Military lifeGreat Britain. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.Great Britain. Army--PromotionsGreat Britain. Army--Regiment of Foot, 28thGreat Britain. Army--Regiment of Foot, 51st
Halifax (N.S.)--Civil defenseHalifax (N.S.)--DescriptionHardy, Charles, 1716?-1780Havana (Cuba)--History--Siege, 1762Howe, William, fifth viscount Howe, 1729-1814Hunting--IrelandJews, GermanLough Derg (Ireland)--DescriptionLough Earn (Ireland)--DescriptionLouisburg, Battle of, 1758Martinique--Expedition, 1761Minden, Battle of, 1759Monckton, Robert, 1726-1782Mont Louis (Quebec)--Expedition, 1758Murray, James, 1719?-1794Pilgrims and pilgrimages--IrelandPrussia--History--1740-1786Prussia--Politics and government--1740-1786Prussia. Prince FerdinandPrussia. Sovereigns. Frederick II, 1712-1786Purcell, Gov.Purcell, Jeremy, d. 1759Quebec Campaign, 1759Saint Patrick's Purgatory (Ireland)Sepulchral monuments--EnglandServants--Great BritainSeven Years' War, 1756-1763Soldiers--BilletingTombs--GermanyTombs--Great BritainUnited States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763Webb, Philip Carteret, 1700-1770Wolfe, James, 1727-1759Women--England--YorkWomen--PrussiaYellow FeverYork (England)--DescriptionYork Minster
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