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General Hugh Mercer


1726 - 1777

Military commander and hero of the American Revolutionary War. Born in the manse at Peathill (Aberdeenshire), Mercer was the son of the minister of Pitsligo Parish. He studied medicine at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and became an assistant surgeon in the Jacobite Army in 1745. He was forced into hiding after the Battle of Culloden and left Scotland for America in 1747.

He joined the British Army there ten years later and fought bravely against the French, gaining a promotion to the rank of Colonel. He then served under General John Forbes (1707-59) in the capture of Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River, taking command when Forbes was too ill to continue. He became friendly with another Colonel, George Washington, and after hostilities ceased, moved to Fredericksburg (Virginia), where he was able to practice medicine. Washington sold Mercer the farm which had been his childhood home. Mercer was soon a prominent citizen and a supporter of Independence. The Continental Congress of 1776 appointed him a Brigadier General of the American Army. He took a prominent role in the early days of the American Revolution but was mortally wounded at the Battle of Princeton in 1777. There is a memorial near the spot where he fell, a statue to his memory in Fredericksburg and his character appears alongside Washington in the film The Crossing (2000).


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