Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

An 1825 Interview with Lafayette

Lafayette returned to America in 1824 for a triumphal tour. The French hero was greeted enthusiastically in many cities. And perhaps no city loved him more than Philadelphia, the place where the 19-year Frenchman initially met General Washington in 1777 shortly before the Battle of Brandywine.

On February 25, 1825, Lafayette granted Poulson's Advetiser, one of Philadelphia's leading newspapers, an interview. In the piece, Lafayette recalled receiving his wound at Brandywine:

The ball went through and through; I was on foot when I received my wound; a part of our line had given way but a part still held its ground. To these I repaired. To encourage my comrades, and to show them I had no better chance of flight than they, I ordered my horse to the rear. The news of my being hurt was conveyed to the commander-in-chief, with the usual exaggerations in such cases. The good General Washington freely expressed his grief that one so young, and a volunteer in the holy cause of freedom, should so early have fallen; but he was soon relieved by an assurance that my wound would stop short of life, when he sent me his love an gratulation that matters were no worse. On the field of battle the surgeon prepared his dressings, but the shot fell so thick around us, that in a very little time, if we had remained, we should both have been past all surgery. Being mounted on my horse I left the field, and repaired to the bridge near Chester, where I halted and placed a guard, to stop fugitive soldiers, and direct them to join their respective regiments. I could do no more; becoming faint, I was carried into a house in Chester and laid on a table, when my wound received its first dressing. The general officers soon arrived, when I saluted them by begging that they would not eat me up, as they appeared to be very hungry, and I was the only dish upon the table in the house. The good general-in-chief was much gratified on finding me in such spirits, and caused a litter to be made, on which I was conveyed to the Indian Queen [a tavern/hotel] in Philadelphia, and was there waited upon by the members of Congress, who were all booted and spurred and on the wing for a place of greater safety to hold their sessions. The enemy continuing to advance, I was removed to Bristol, and thence in the coach of President Laurens (and coaches were rare in those days) to Reading [here Lafayette's memory fails him — he was actually moved to Bethlehem], where I remained until so much recovered as to be able to repair to head-quarters.