Have you ever wondered where Mercer County got its name?
Mercer County was named after General Hugh Mercer, a celebrated hero of the Revolutionary War. General Mercer was born in Scotland on January 16th, 1726. After attending university for the medical arts at Marischal College, Mercer would immigrate to the United States in 1750. Mercer would go on to settle in present-day Mercersburg, PA, where he served as a physician.
In 1756 amid the French and Indian War, Mercer would go on to be appointed a Captain in the colony’s armed forces. By 1758, Mercer would go on to be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In the effort to capture Fort Duquesne, Mercer was introduced to George Washington, who would go on to be a powerful friend and ally.
After serving as the first commandant of Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh, Mercer would ultimately leave the militia and relocate to Fredericksburg, VA, where he worked as a physician. Mercer would reside at Ferry Farm, which coincidentally was the boyhood home of George Washington.
Mercer would continue in his role as a physician until 1775 when it became more evident that a war was coming. To prepare for a British invasion, the General Assembly would appoint Mercer as a colonel in the 3rd Virginia Regiment. A year later, the Continental Congress would promote him to brigadier general. As brigadier general, Mercer was placed in command of guarding the northern New Jersey coast against British invasion.
Some of General Mercer’s accomplishments include preventing British forces from capturing the bridges on the Delaware River, covering the Continental Army’s retreat from New York to New Jersey, and even helping devise the sneak attack Battle of Trenton. During the Battle of Trenton, American forces would emerge victorious against the Hessians, which were German mercenaries fighting on behalf of the British. General Mercer would go on to be remembered as one of the first American attacks during the critical Battle of Trenton.
With the Battle of Trenton victory under his belt, Mercer would go on to devise a plan for the Battle of Princeton. On January 3, 1777, Mercer led his troops to the Stony Brook Bridge. During the British counterattack, General Mercer would, unfortunately, be fatally wounded. After shooting his horse, General Mercer was shot at and beaten until he was rescued by his men. Although several medical professors tried to intervene, General Mercer would ultimately pass away on January 12th, 1777. Mercer is remembered as a celebrated war hero, a talented physician, and a key player in the American Revolution.
The next time someone asks where you’re from, you can beam with pride knowing the history of our beloved Mercer County.