|Hugh Mercer, in a study|
by painter John Trumbull
Fast forward to the American Revolution. Mercer was first appointed Colonel within the Virginia Line and then Brigadier General of the Armies of the United Colonies. In the latter role, he supervised the construction of Fort Lee on the Palisades, and his brigade was among the troops who retreated in November 1776 following the British attack on the fort. You'll recall that after the Continentals' arrival in Pennsylvania, Washington set into motion the surprise attack that would startle the Hessians at Trenton and turn the tide of the war in the Americans' favor.
The success at Trenton emboldened Washington to attempt to take Princeton on January 3, 1777, with Mercer's brigade at the lead. Hitting the British head on at Thomas Clarke's farm outside of town, Mercer found himself separated from his troops as he had during the French and Indian War. This time, however, the outcome was not to be as favorable for him. Having shot his horse from under him and confused him for Washington, the British surrounded Mercer and demanded that he surrender. Instead, he drew his sword and charged, despite being substantially outnumbered. The Brits set on him with musket butts and bayonets, beating him severely and stabbing him seven times before leaving him for dead. They clearly underestimated the amount of fight left in the man: he endured another nine days before perishing.
|The 'new' Mercer Oak,|
descendant of the original.