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Jan
12

Hugh Mercer

By
When:
January 12, 2019 all-day
2019-01-12T00:00:00-05:00
2019-01-13T00:00:00-05:00

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January 12, 1777

This was the day of Hugh Mercer dying.

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Nine days earlier he was brutally stabbed in the Battle of Princeton.

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Which Mercer?  Hugh or George?

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Confusion on which Mercer.

It was George Mercer not Hugh Mercer.

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Both were there  at Loyalhanna, which was called Fort Ligonier later.

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But it was George Mercer’s men and George Washington’s men who engaged shooting each other.

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Contemporary Sources are listed.

Below are links to Washington’s and Forbes writing about it.

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DISAMBIGUATION OF THE MERCERS

There was two Mercers

Hugh Mercer on the Pennsylvania side.

George Mercer on the Virginia side.   And more on this George Mercer than you want to know.

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Colonel Hugh Mercer commands Fort Pitt  17 December 1758 after Colonel Bouquets meets with the Iroquois. Hugh Mercer moves away from Fort Pitt  in PA to Fredericksburg VA.

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George Mercer now a Lt Colonel

It involves our former Captain George Mercer who has now graduated to Lieutenant Colonel, under Colonel William Byrd III commanding the newly formed 2nd Virginia Regiment.

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Mistakes:

https://www.history.org/almanack/people/bios/biomer.cfm

“From 1754-1760, he was lieutenant colonel in William Byrd’s Second Virginia Regiment.”  <– Those years are wrong. Captain George Mercer became Lt Colonel of the 2nd VA Regiment in 1758.

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Confusion on the Mt Vernon Website

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/forbes-expedition/

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“The last major action of the Forbes Expedition

took place on the night of November 12,

when a force of thirty French-Canadians

and 140 Native Americans

attacked British troops

guarding a horse herd.

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Forbes sent Washington’s regiment and then Colonel Hugh Mercer‘s troops towards the gunfire.

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Mercer’s men moved in an arc behind the French positions as Washington’s men advanced.

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The events of that night are murky, but it is likely that Mercer’s advance guard opened fire on Washington’s men after mistaking them for the enemy.”  

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This is the wrong Mercer.  It is not Pennsylvania’s Hugh Mercer but our former Captain George Mercer, who is now in this friendly fire the rank of a Lt Colonel under Byrd III’s  2nd VA Regiment. See link – http://fortligonier.org/history/george-washington/

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On This Day in History
January 12, 1777

General Hugh Mercer dies

General Hugh Mercer

On this day in history, January 12, 1777, General Hugh Mercer dies from wounds received at the Battle of Princeton. General Mercer was born in Scotland in 1726 and trained as a doctor. He served as a surgeon in the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie and was present at the defeat of his army at the Battle of Culloden, an army which was raised to put a Stuart King back on the throne of England.

This army was destroyed by the forces of Hanover King George II at the Battle of Culloden, Scotland on April 16, 1746. George’s forces massacred as many survivors as they could find, forcing Mercer into exile as a result. He eventually made his way to the colony of Pennsylvania where he settled and resumed his medical practice.

When the Braddock Expedition was massacred in 1755, Mercer came to the aid of some of the wounded soldiers and was moved by the experience because it reminded him of the massacre of his countrymen at the Battle of Culloden. This caused him to join the British army, which he had once fought against, to fight the Indians during the French and Indian War.

He became a captain of Pennsylvania militia in 1756 and was severely wounded during a raid on an Indian village that year. He was separated from his troops and marched across the wilderness for 100 miles alone to get back to his fort, after which he was promoted to colonel. During the French and Indian War, Mercer became friends with George Washington, who was also a colonel at the same time. They were such good friends that Mercer moved to Virginia after the war and settled in Fredericksburg, resuming his medical practice.

The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton by John Trumbull

When the American Revolution began, Mercer was appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army by the Continental Congress. He directed the building of Fort Lee on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River to impede British access up the river.

After the Continental Army was driven from New York and across New Jersey in the fall of 1776, they stopped their retreat on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. Mercer is sometimes credited with coming up with the plan to attack the Hessian outpost at Trenton, which helped stem the discouraging tide of American losses. Washington’s forces ferried across the river in the middle of the night on Christmas Day and captured 1,000 Hessians at the outpost.

This led to another victory a week later when Washington repulsed a counterattack from Lt. General Charles Cornwallis at Trenton again. After that victory, Washington’s men marched through the night toward Princeton to capture the British outpost there and continue its string of victories.

Hugh Mercer led an advance party of 1200 men that ran into a large British force at an orchard along the way and fighting began. The British force quickly defeated the green American militia units and General Mercer was surrounded by British troops who mistook him for George Washington and demanded that he surrender. Mercer fiercely attacked his antagonizers, but was struck to the ground, bayoneted seven times and left for dead. He was attended by Declaration of Independence signer Doctor Benjamin Rush, but he died nine days later on January 12, 1777. He was buried at Christ Church in Philadelphia originally, but his body was reinterred at Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1840.

Red stars

Read what happened on other days in American history at our On This Day in History section here.

This Week in History

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