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Hugh Mercer: An unexpected life page 7
After escaping from Scotland to freedom in America, Dr. Hugh Mercer became a Revolutionary War hero. He is profiled in a series by Paula S. Felder on 'The Fredericksburg Patriots.' Hugh Mercer: An unexpected life

Date published: 9/4/2004


The partnership with John Julian lasted several years. The formal announcement of its dissolution appeared in the Virginia Gazette early in 1776, when Mercer was preparing to depart for military service. But by then, he had already signed a long-term lease on his former shop to secure the location when he returned from the war. (His widow, Isabella, controlled the lease until her death in 1791, and afterwards, her son-in-law Robert Patton was an occupant of the building.)

Hugh Mercer impressed many with his conduct. An English visitor in 1774 described him as "a physician of great merit and eminence, and as a man, possessed of almost every virtue and accomplishmentof a just and moderate way of thinking, anda generosity of principle."

By now, however, Mercer had acquired a Virginia gentleman's taste for land ownership and conviviality. He took advantage of his eligibility as a veteran for bounty land in Pennsylvania and he also bought the bounty rights of some of his Virginia friends. In 1773, he bought 300 acres on the Fall Hill.

Meanwhile, the sociable Scotsman was frequently enjoying the hospitality of his brother-in-law's tavern in the next block. He was the most frequent patron of the tavern and also bought large quantities of meat and staples from Weedon's supply business.

He was often at "supper and club" joining the group who ate and drank together. As feelings ran high in 1775, no one was more of an activist than Hugh Mercer (except perhaps his brother-in-law Weedon). In March, Mercer treated the new Independent Company to punch. In July, he paid for four bowls of punch for the volunteers who had gone to Williamsburg to protest the confiscation of the stores in the powder magazine.

In September 1775, Mercer was elected head of the regional Minute Men (consisting of the surrounding four counties). But he was then appointed an officer in the 2nd Regiment created by the Virginia Convention; and before the year was out, he was promoted to colonel by the convention and then placed in charge of the newly created 3rd Regiment.

Early in February 1776, the Continental Congress took six Virginia regiments into the Continental Line (army), including Mercer's.

Before he departed for duty, he made out a detailed will instructing his executors what to do with his properties in case of his death.

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