Timeline of this Company
Currently this page is under construction. Look for updates.
Short bio on our Capt. George Mercer.
Why is George Mercer a subject for our interest? Because George Washington knew the whole Mercer family.
First, a little bit about George Mercer's family:
George Mercer’s father, John Mercer, was one of the founders of the Ohio Company of Virginia which GW was a part.
George Mercer’s father was also an attorney for GW.
And George Mercer's father, John Mercer, had one of the largest libraries in colonial Virginia. George Mason University's library is named the Mercer Library. Compare John Mercer’s library of about 2000 book to William Byrd II library of over 4000 books in Westover:
John Mercer helped raise George Mason (of George Mason University fame).
George Mercer’s Brother, Captain John Fenton Mercer was killed and scalped near Fort Edwards April 18, 1756.
So, what about George Mercer himself?
George Mercer was a Captain of a company
for George Washington’s Virginia Regiment, 1756-1758.
His company was the initial company,
along with Captain Bell’s and Captain Peachey’s,
providing carpenters to start the building
of Fort Loudoun in Winchester VA.
One of those carpenters repeatedly deserted
and was later court martialed and hanged
at Fort Loudoun Winchester VA.
George Mercer was GW’s aid de camp.
George Mercer was wounded at Fort Necessity.
He was on the Braddock Expedition.
Later on the Forbes Expedition,
Mercer, now a Lt Colonel in the 2nd Virginia Regiment,
and GW of the 1st Virginia Regiment,
ran into each other at night in a
horribly sad friendly fire incident,
in which GW recorded very little
until decades later providing notes
to David Humphreys who was planning to
write a biography of George Washington.
Somehow the two remained friends.
George Mercer ran for election with GW
and won with GW for House of Burgesses in 1761,
representing Frederick County Winchester VA.
Click on all pictures to enlarge.
Later he almost became a Governor of a Colony –
the proposed Colony called Vandalia.
He also became a tax collector at the height of hysteria
against England. Bad timing. Again. He resigned.
And that’s just a small part of the George Mercer story.
Short bio on our Capt. George Mercer.
Born Marlborough Plantation, Stafford Co. Virginia, June 23, 1733.
Died in England, April 1784.
Source is from
Click to enlarge chart.
This timeline will include events of George Mercer and his commander, George Washington, and of others related.
George Mercer's father is founding member of Ohio Company
George Mercer's father is George Washington's attorney
CAPT HOGG NOT LIKED
September 6, 1755
George Washington doesn't like Peter Hogg. Find out why.
Colonel George Washington writes Captain Peter Hogg sending him his commission. Read the footnote to this letter by Founders Online for the long and full story of Peter Hogg. See also the Facebook Page for the 1st Virginia Regiment Hogg's Company in Kentucky, which was Virginia at the time.
This side story is included here just to mention some other companies in the 1st Virginia Regiment of which our Company, Captain George Mercer's, is a part.
EARLIEST MENTION OF MERCER SINCE BRADDOCK EXPEDITION
October 22, 1755
Captain Charles Lewis' Journal: "This night about 9 o'clock we were joined by the Hon'ble Colonel George Washington and Captain George Mercer ..."
MERCER'S ORDERS FROM GW
January 9, 1756
Orders from GW: "All the Officers now in town (Winchester VA) are to hold themselves in readiness to attend Lieutenant Colonel Stephens to Fort Cumberland to-morrow; except Captains Stewart, Peachy and Bell."
In this same order, GW lists all the companies and their leaders. 2nd Company is Captain George Mercer's. Lieutenant Thomas Bullit, and Ensign George Hedgman are listed with Mercer's company.
See all the orders Washington writes in these several days of January.
MERCER'S BROTHER KILLED AND SCALPED
April 18, 1756
Battle of the Great Cacapon. Near Fort Edwards. Our captain, Captain George Mercer has a brother who is scalped and slain. His brother was Captain of a different company. Court Martials for cowardice and desertion were held May 2, 3, 4 in Winchester VA after this battle.
MERCER AT A COUNCIL OF WAR IN WINCHESTER VA
April 21, 1756
The Captains of the Council of War agreed to stay in Winchester rather than go to Fort Cumberland. "...The most judicious of the Inhabitants solicited our continuation here in the most earnest manner; and represented in the strongest light, the impossibility of their making a stand, should any accident happen to the small party we proposed marching with..."
See letters Washington writes on the same day of this Council of War in Winchester VA.
MERCER'S COMPANY TO HELP BUILD FORT LOUDOUN
May 18, 1756
This is the date picked as the start of building Fort Loudoun Winchester VA.
Captain Mercer's company is picked to provide carpenters to build it - along with carpenters from other companies.
Washington in Winchester VA writes to Lt Col Adam Stephen (GW's 2nd in command at Fort Cumberland), " ...I am also detained here [Winchester VA] to construct and erect a fort, which the Governor has ordered to be done with expedition3—As it will be necessary to have a number of Carpenters, &c. to carry on the work with spirit, and vigour; you are desired to send down all the men of Captain George Mercers Company; those that are there of Captain Bells—all the men that are really skilled in masonry: and if all these do not make up fifty—you are to complete the party to that number, out of the best Carpenters in other Companies..."
MERCER AT COUNCIL OF WAR IN FORT CUMBERLAND
July 10, 1756
This council decides that the Virginia Regiment will own building of forts in Old Frederick County and Hampshire County, but the rest of the forts in the rest of Virginia, particularly the southern front will be relegated to a subordinate officer, Captain Peter Hogg.
MERCER'S ORDERS FROM GW
july 12, 1756
Orders from GW: George Mercer is now Captain of the 4th company and includes Lt Bryan Fairfax, Ensign Denis McCarty.
MERCER REPORTS A DESERTER WHO IS LATER HANGED
September 1, 1756
Ignatius Edwards was a soldier in Capt. George Mercer’s company, and Mercer reported him a deserter on 1 Sept. 1756. He returned to the regiment after being drafted in June 1757. Court Martial held on Ignatius and others at Fort Loudoun noted, "he had already been twice pardoned for the villanous & shameful Crime of Desertion." On July 29, 1757 this soldier and one other was hanged for desertion. This may have been the first hanging ever in Winchester and may have been George Washington's first as well. And this was a 25 year old, height 5'11, first an artificer or carpenter for Capt. Peachey, building Fort Loudoun in the summer of 1756 and then a soldier llisted in Capt George Mercer's Company returns.
MERCER HAVING PROBLEMS WITH BUILDING FORT LOUDOUN
January 12, 1757
Colonel George Washington writes from Fort Cumberland to Lt. Gov Dinwiddie, "When I left Winchester, I gave directions about carrying on the works at Fort Loudoun with all possible dispatch. But a letter from Captain Mercer ... informs me that they are at a loss in respect to the manner of making the ambrasures thro the parapet; although I gave directions in person before I came away on this head; they propose a method that will spoil the whole work. And as I could not make them sensible of my plan by instruction only when present, I have little hope of accomplishing it by writing, consequently I am reduced to a disagreeable dilemmma."
MERCER GREETS 148 CHEROKEE AT FORT LOUDOUN WINCHESTER VA
April 21,22 , 1757
"Thursday and Friday last came to Town [Winchester] 148 Cherokees, with Major [Andrew] Lewis, and yesterday I spoke to them, as they did not chuse an Interview sooner."
Mercer goes on to write that the Cherokee feeled lied to and now their own young men of their Cherokee nation feel lied to by their own leaders.
The phrase of "giving presents" means supplies of blankets, shoes, weapons, etc. The phrase of "treated as children" means to treat the Indians with the favor of giving them needed and nice things, like they would do so with their own children.
Mercer retains his Captaincy. Others lose their Company.
16 May 1757
Lt Gov Dinwiddie writes to GW, that the Virginia Regiment has been too costly and top heavy with officers and so per the reorganization plan adopted by House of Burgesses on April 20, 1757, that, "...The said Regiment shall Consist only of ten Companies, of one hundred Men each—that all the Captains but Seven, be reduced1—Those I have thought proper to continue, are Captains Mercer, Waggoner, Stewart, Joshua Lewis, Woodward, Spotswood, and McKenzie..."
Losing their companies would be Captains David Bell, William Bronaugh, Thomas Cocke, Henry Harrison, Charles Lewis, Joh Savage.
The Virginia Regiment was reduced from 16 Companies to 10.
Five Companies to protect Virginia.
Four Companies to be sent to South Carolina.
VA REGIMENT LEAVES FORT CUMBERLAND
May 5, 1757
Washington's Virginia Regiment is FINALLY relieved of the responsibility to garrison Fort Cumberland leaving it only to Maryland's Captain John Dagworthy who insisted his old British commission made him a higher rank than a colonial Colonel.
MERCER LEAVES WITH LT COL ADAM STEPHEN TO CHARLESTON SC
May 26, 1757
Lt Col Stephen Adam and Capt George Mercer, also GW's aid de camp, left Williamsburg VA with almost 200 Virginia Regiment soldiers and then on a ship from Hampton Roads VA to Charleston SC. They did not return until May 1758.
MERCER PROUD OF THE LOOK OF THE VA REGIMENT
IN CHARLESTON SC
August 17, 1757
To George Washington from George Mercer, Charles Town [S.C.]
"It is a very odd Method of judging but however tis the Plan upon which most of the World goes, and therefore to find ourselves judged for the Errors or Imperfections of others ⟨is not very⟩ unaccountable—but we have been told here by the Officers that nothing ever gave them such Surprize as our Appearance at entering Hampton, for expecting to see a Parcel of ragged disorderly Fellows headed by Officers of their own Stamp (like the rest of the Provincials they had seen) behold they saw Men properly disposed who made a good & Soldier like Appearance and performed in every Particular as well as coud be expected from any Troops with Officers whom they found to be Gent. ...
MERCER'S DESCRIPTION OF THE UNIFORM
to see a Sash & Gorget with a genteel Uniform, a Sword properly hung, a Hat cocked, Persons capable of holding Conversation where only common Sense was requisite to continue the Discourse, and a White Shirt, with any other than a black Leather Stock, were Matters of great Surprize and Admiration & which engaged Them all to give Us a polite Invitation to spend the Evening, & after to agree to keep Us Company which they had determined before not to do—agreeable to what they had practised with the other Provincial Troops. We have lost that common Appellation of Provincials, & are known here by the Style & Title of the Detachment of the Virga Regiment."
MERCER WANTS ADAM STEPHEN'S JOB IF . . .
And in the same letter while in South Carolina with Adam Stephen, Captain George Mercer puts in his dibs for the Lt Colonelcy if Adam Stephen is removed.
"In case of Colo. Stephens Removal from this Command I believe he is tired of, I hope it will be agreeable to you that I shoud succeed him. Youl scarce believe that the Colonel never appears here but in full dressed laced Suits—so great a Change has Carolina produced."
Mercer returns to Winchester VA.
MERCER VS WASHINGTON FRIENDLY FIRE HORROR
November 12 Night 1758
Friendly Fire Melee. Forbes Expedition. Washington writes about EVERYTHING, but he doesn't write about this. And it involves our former Captain George Mercer who has now graduated to Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the newly formed 2nd Virginia Regiment.
MERCER REPORTS TO GW ABOUT ADAM STEPHEN'S LAND GRAB
February 17, 1760
To George Washington from George Mercer, 17 February 1760 letter
“…Stephen is to be down at the Assembly too, not only to direct Them, but also to back Bullitt—he rubs his Hands, shrugs his Shoulders, and says he knows if Tom gets the Place he will serve a Friend—Tho. I was once very easy about this Affair, I cant say now but it woud give Me the greatest Joy imaginable to disappoint these mighty Schemers ..."
MERCER AND WASHINGTON ELECTED, ADAM STEPHEN LOSES
May 18, 1761
Election to House of Burgesses. This was a bitter election.
For the FULL STORY CLICK ON THIS LINK.
Three-Way Race for 2 seats to the House of Burgesses to represent the huge old Frederick County Virginia. Who were the 3?
Our old Captain, George Mercer is running for his first time. So is Adam Stephen. And George Washington is the only one of the 3 running for re-election. So .... Who lost? Adam Stephen.
We don’t quite know what outrageous actions Adam Stephen was taking, but we do get indications he was encouraging voters who may not have met freeholder status as defined in the law. Voters had to own so much land to be eligible to vote.
In the letter below, Washington does not state what the infraction is but does state Adam Stephen disavowed accusations with the Sheriff present.
This caused a law to make clear who can vote, and how much land they must have. November 1762, Volume IV, page 518 Henings Statutes.
We do know the previous 1758 election caused the House of Burgesses to pass a law restricting the use of alcohol and favors.
This letter is three days before the election.
In this letter, George Washington, a candidate, asked the Sheriff A FAVOR. .
A favor is being asked by a candidate, George Washington, of Sheriff Van Swearingen, who will be standing as an election official to make sure nothing unruly or illegal occurs, to see if the Sheriff can orchestrate moving Mercer’s and Washington’s voters to the front of the line. And then avers that the Sheriff cannot appear openly biased.
And why have Washington’s and Mercer’s voters moved to the front of the line?
Because back then, voters declared their picks openly and out loud for everyone to hear. This was no secret ballot. And who did these voters say out loud their picks to? They said their picks directly to the candidates sitting in front of them. In this case the 3 candidates would be sitting at the table, or their designated seconds, and so would be the sheriff and undersheriff or some other member to record the votes.
The effect of declaring your picks out loud could cause peer pressure, guilt, leverage, dishonor – whatever – to anyone who was thinking of voting differently.
AND if it looks like all the people ahead of you are voting for an apparent winner, maybe you wouldn’t like to pick a loser and live in that same county.
The letter Washington writes to Sheriff Van Swearingen, 15 May 1761, three days before the election:
"...Col. Stephens proceedings is a matter of the greatest amazement to me. I have come across sundry of his Letters directed to the Freeholders wherein he informs them that he acquitted himself of what was charged to him on the Streets of Winchester while you were present, and goes on to draw Comparisons to prove his Innocence, which are by no means applicable unless he had continued them, However His conduct throughout the whole is very obvious to all who will be convinced, but I find there are some that do not choose to have their Eyes opened.
I hope my Interest in your Neighbourhood still stands good, and as I have the greatest reason to believe you can be no Friend to a Person of Colo. Stephens Principles; I hope, and indeed make no doubt that you will contribute your aid towards shutting him out of the Public trust he is seeking, could Mercer’s Friends and mine be hurried in at the first of the Poll it might be an advantage, but as Sheriff I know you cannot appear in this, nor would I by any mean have you do any thing that can give so designing a Man as Colo. Stevens the least trouble. I am, etc."