Skip to comments.In honor of Peter Francisco Day [225th Battle of Guilford Courthouse Anniversary]
Posted on 03/15/2006 1:44:38 PM PST by Pharmboy
Today, March 15, 2006, marks the 225th anniversary of one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolution. The battle of Guilford Courthouse was fought on March 15, 1781, in a small hamlet in North Carolina. It was considered the largest, most hotly-contested action of the Revolutionary War's climactic southern campaign. The British, led by Gen. Charles Cornwallis, defeated the Americans, but at a large cost to their army. Cornwallis would then return to Virginia and eventually capitulated to the Americans on Oct. 19 of that same year.
In the battle of Guilford, there was a young soldier of about 20 years of age who made a name for himself while helping the cause of independence of his adoptive country. His name was Peter Francisco and he was of Portuguese ancestry.
In fact, at the age of 5, on a Sunday of Pentecost, while playing with his sister Angela in front of their house in Porto Judeu, on the island of Terceira, Azores, Francisco was abducted by Moorish pirates who later abandoned him at City Point, now Hopewell, Va., on June 23, 1765. He was adopted by judge Anthony Winston, the uncle of famed patriot Patrick Henry, the man who is known for exclaiming for all to hear: "Give me liberty or give me death!"
Certainly influenced by his friend Patrick Henry, Francisco enlisted in the 10th Virginia Regiment at the age of 16. He took part in several of the most important battles of the American Revolution. But it was at the battle of Camden, on August 16, 1780, where Francisco was credited as having saved the life of his commanding officer and carrying to safety, on his shoulders, a 1,100-pound cannon so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands. At Guilford Courthouse, Francisco cut down 11 English soldiers, using his huge 6-foot long broadsword, forged for him under special orders from Gen. George Washington.
It was in this battle that Peter Francisco became famous for his bravery and tremendous strength. He was known as the "Hercules of the Revolution" and George Washington called him a "One-Man-Army." "Without him, we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the war, and with it our freedom," said George Washington in reference to Peter Francisco. At the battle of Guilford Courthouse, Francisco was severely wounded and left for dead on the battlefield, but was later rescued by a Quaker who took him to his house and nursed him for eight weeks, until Francisco was able to join his troops again. It is believed that it was at this Quaker's house that Francisco befriended the Marquis de Lafayette who was also recuperating from wounds he received at Guilford Courthouse.
In 1831, when Francisco died while serving as sergeant-at-arms in the House of Delegates in Virginia, it is said that Lafayette wept as if he'd lost a brother when he learned of his friend's death. Peter Francisco was buried at Shockoe Cemetery in Richmond on Jan. 18, 1831, with full military honors, and his funeral cortege from the House of Delegates Hall to the cemetery was one of the largest, most impressive, colorful and respectful ever held in Virginia. That is why, in early 1954, Massachusetts Gov. Christian Herter signed a proclamation declaring March 15 as Peter Francisco Day, following the passage of a bill in the state Legislature introduced by then state Sen. Edmund Dinis.
The life of Peter Francisco, a giant of a man in stature but a kind person in his modest ways, should be looked upon by younger generations of today as a bright point of reference that should be emulated. It is for them, especially, that I am writing this letter. When you pass by Peter Francisco Square near the little lighthouse downtown (where Mill and Kempton streets come together to form the so-called Octopus), where you now see a huge boulder on a pedestal instead of a statue of a brave warrior mounted on his horse and brandishing his broadsword, please take a moment to say a prayer in memory of this great man, and thank him for the role he gallantly played in paving the way for America as a free nation.
The town the writer is referring to is New Bedford, MA.
Peter Francisco, pen and ink, 1975, National Park Service
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BTW, my husband and I recently visited Pittsburgh to view the exhibit on the French and Indian War now at the Heinz Regional Cultural Center thru Apr. 15.We were so glad we did this!
Makes sense that the statue is in New Bedford, as, along with Fall River nearby, it has the highest Portuguese population per capita in the United States.
.... carrying to safety, on his shoulders, a 1,100-pound cannon
My comment: !!!!!!!!!
...and notice the writer's last name. As you prolly know, the cod brought the Portuguese to New Bedford. (And I'm working on your freepmail request).
Yep, Medeiros and Teixiera are like Smith and Jones among the Portuguese. At one point, my grandma had Teixiera's to the left of her and across the street, and several Medeiros to the right of her house.
What a story! I've never heard of him, and he recuperated in Bethlehem, PA, which is near me.
He was a warrior...he deserves to be remembered.