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Reporting for Duty


At the Library of Congress we find this weekly report on troop strength for the 2nd Virginia Regiment, commanded by the Honorable William Byrd, Esq. It’s dated August 21, 1758.
If you look closely, you’ll see that Mr. Byrd’s second in command was one Lieutenant Colonel George Mercer, who appears in the encyclopedia as, in the words of Richard Henry Lee, “an execrable monster.” Well, Lee was actually just summarizing the general opinion of Mercer, who in 1765 had been appointed the colony’s official stamp distributor. (Parliament had passed the hated Stamp Act earlier in the year.) Lee had actually wanted the job, was annoyed that Mercer had gotten it, and now was greatly relieved that Mercer, and not himself, was considered to be such a monster!

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