Author: Miles S. Richards

a retired professor of history and the author of Remembering Columbia, South Carolina: Capital City Chronicles (2006)

Hugh Mercer (1725–1777)

Hugh Mercer was a soldier and physician who fought for a Virginia regiment during the American Revolution (1775–1783). Born in Scotland, where he earned a medical degree at the University of Aberdeen, Mercer took up arms on behalf of the Stuart claim to the English throne. After the disastrous Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fled to America, establishing a medical practice in Philadelphia. During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), he fought with the 1st Pennsylvania and became the first commandant of Fort Pitt in present-day Pittsburgh. By 1761 Mercer had quit the militia and moved to Fredericksburg, where he married, opened an apothecary shop, and purchased land, including Ferry Farm, the boyhood home of George Washington, whom Mercer had befriended during the war. In 1775, the General Assembly appointed Mercer a colonel in the 3rd Virginia Regiment, and a year later the Continental Congress made him a brigadier general. While serving under Washington at the Battle of Princeton, on January 3, 1777, Mercer suffered severe bayonet wounds after his horse was shot out from under him. He died nine days later.