Feature Story

Richard Welch

The Civil, Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military History of Rutland County Vermont, published in 1882 by The White River Paper Co., relates this story in its history of Brandon:

In our village churchyard1 stands, or rather has stood until within a few days past, a plain marble slab bearing the following inscription:

Over the body of
RICHARD WELCH,
during five years
a soldier under
WELLINGTON2
in the
PENINSULAR WAR3,
and during all his life
AN HONEST MAN.
This stone is erected by his friends.
He was born in Ireland
1783;
Died in Brandon, Vt.,
1842.

On the 22d of August the sons of the deceased, had the remains removed to the new Cemetery north of the village4. The coffin was found in a very good state of preservation—sufficiently so to enable it to be brought to the surface, with its contents, quite entire, by as careful and experienced a person as the worthy sexton, Mr. Parkhurst.

The remains consisted simply of the bones, which were quite whole, and in the position in which they were placed twenty-two years ago last March. The most interesting feature connected with the exhuming was the discovery of the character and nature of the wound received by the deceased at the battle of Vittoria5, fought June 22, 1813. The wound occurred midway between the hip and knee joints of the left leg, rendering the knee joint stiff; the joint was natural, however, but the thigh bone was found lapped and enlarged, and just underneath the injury, on the bottom of the coffin, was found the bullet flattened out to the size and thickness of a large cent6. – From Vt. Record while published at Brandon.

Notes

1. our village churchyard
This is the Old Town Cemetery behind the Congregational Church in the center of Brandon village.

2. WELLINGTON
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain. His defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 put him in the first rank of Britain's military heroes. Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French Empire at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813.

3. PENINSULAR WAR
The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and the allied powers of the Spanish Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Portugal, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war started when French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

4. the new Cemetery north of the village
This is the Pine Hill Cemetery on Route 7 north of Brandon village. Here is Richard Welch on Find A Grave.

5. the battle of Vittoria
At the Battle of Vitoria, Spain (21 June 1813) a British, Portuguese and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain, eventually leading to victory in the Peninsular War.

6. the size and thickness of a large cent
A large cent in 1864 had a diameter of 1-1/8 inch. A modern day quarter is smaller at 0.955 inch.

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