Julius Wasmus

Julius F. Wasmus was a German surgeon who fought for the British in the American Revolution. Wasmus served in a German regiment, the Braunschweig Dragoons, which was a mounted infantry regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum. This was an elite group of mounted soldiers, trained to move and fire while on horseback. They were noted for their thigh-high riding boots, 12-pound broad swords, and their handlebar mustaches, but they were dispatched here without horses and needed to adapt to being on foot.

The Braunschweig Dragoons were under the command of British General John Burgoyne and thus Wasmus witnessed many key battles. Wasmus was among the men taken prisoner by the Americans after the war. When an American finds him hiding behind a tree he shakes hands with the man and calls him “Freund und Bruder” [friend and brother]. When they heard that he was a surgeon, they immediately set him to work bandaging American troops. He attempted to help some of the fallen German artillerymen, but they did not give him the time and pulled him along by force. The prisoners were taken to Bennington before they marched to Boston as POWs.

Later, after being taken prisoner, Wasmus was ordered to live with a farmer’s family in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and encouraged to work in his profession. His journal—An Eyewitness Account of the American Revolution and New England Life: The Journal of J.F. Wasmus, German company surgeon, 1776-1783—offers first-hand accounts of military affairs, as well as detailed observations of the climate, geography, and societal customs of New England and New York.

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