Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MERCER, Hugh, soldier, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, about 1720; died near Princeton, New Jersey, 12 January, 1777. He was educated at the University of Aberdeen, became a physician, and was assistant surgeon in the army of Prince Charles Edward in 1745. He emigrated to this country in 1747 and settled near what is now the town of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania He served in the French and Indian war of 1755, and volunteered in Braddock's expedition to Fort Duquesne, being severely wounded in the shoulder at the battle of Monongahela, and wandering alone through the wilderness to Fort Cumberland, a distance of 100 miles. He received a medal from the corporation of Philadelphia for his courage on this expedition. In 1758 he became lieutenant -colonel, and accompanied the army under Gen John Forbes to Pittsburg, commanding that post for several months. He then returned to practice, settling in Fredericksburg, Virginia, organized and drilled the Virgina militia in 1775, and the minute-men the next year, and was appointed colonel of the 3d Virginia regiment. At Washington's request, he was chosen by congress brigadier-general in June, 1776, with the command of the flying camp. He accompanied the commander-in-chief in the retreat through New Jersey, led the column of attack at Trenton, and advised the night march on Princeton, in which he commanded the advance. When his men, who were chiefly militia, began to waver before the enemy, he made an energetic attempt to rally them, and was felled to the ground by a blow from the butt end of a musket. Although surrounded by the British, he arose, refused quarter, defended himself with his sword, and after a brief struggle, in which he was repeatedly bayoneted, was left for dead on the field. Ha was removed to a neighboring farmhouse soon after the battle, and, on hearing the news of his condition, Washington despatched a flag of truce to Conwallis, requesting that his aide-de-camp and nephew, Colonel George Lewis, be permitted to remain with Mercer until his death, which occurred after several days of severe suffering. His funeral a} Philadelphia was attended by 30,000 people. The St. Andrew's society of Philadelphia erected a monument to his memory in Laurel Hill cemetery, and congress made provision in 1793 for the education of his youngest son. Mercer county, Kentucky, is named in his honor.
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