The important thing to remember about Hugh Mercer is that he was a physician by intention, a soldier by force of circumstance. Born on January 17, 1726, in Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, he studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen and graduated a Doctor. His political sympathies were Jacobite, so he rallied to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and joined the Army of Scotland as an assistant surgeon. He was present when the Jacobite dream died at the battle of Culloden on April 16, 1746. A fugitive in his own country, he caught a ship to Pennsylvania and practiced medicine there for eight years.
During the French and Indian War he came to the aid of the numerous British wounded following Braddock’s defeat. Deciding to take up arms for his new homeland, he became captain of a Pennsylvania company of foot. He served throughout the war and rose to the rank of colonel. He began a warm lifetime friendship with another American colonel, George Washington.
The war concluding, Mercer settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he opened an apothecary shop which is now a museum. Mercer prospered, and became a physician for many of the elite of Virginia society, including Mary Washington, the mother of George. (more…)