In 1917, Townsend, with seven other artists, was commissioned a captain with the American Expeditionary Force and assigned to record the war. His paintings and drawings are now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Other examples of his paintings and rints are owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Townsend was also a mural painter and decorated several high schools in East and South Norwalk, Connecticut.