Skip to comments.History Channel to air the story of Colonial soldier
Posted on 03/12/2010 6:32:35 AM PST by Pharmboy
Travis Bowman says he is a relative of Peter Francisco.
Travis Bowman has said before that he would one day like to see a movie based on the life of his ancestor Revolutionary War soldier Peter Francisco.
He doesn't yet have a development deal for a full-length film, but he is working on a half-hour documentary that will air on the History Channel July 4.
The show, tentatively titled "Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About One of Our Founding Fathers," will focus on the exploits of the 6-foot-6-inch man who fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The anniversary celebration of the battle takes place this weekend in Greensboro.
"It's kind of a quick countdown that fits in perfectly with the other shows they air that day," Bowman said in a telephone interview from his home in Cornelius. "I'm hosting the show, and I'll be saying something like, 'No. 10 is this,' and then cut to a historian or a professor. And there will be some Revolutionary War dramatizations cut in."
Known as the Hercules of the Revolution, Francisco's biography reads like that of an action hero. Born in the Portuguese Azores in 1760, he is believed to have been kidnapped by pirates when he was 5 years old. He was found abandoned on the docks at Hopewell, Va., in 1765 uttering the name "Pedro Francisco." He was taken in as an indentured servant by Judge Anthony Winston, uncle of Patrick Henry.
In 1775, Francisco heard Henry utter his famous line, "Give me liberty or give me death," and a year later joined the Continental Army.
Among the achievements he was credited for during the course of the war was hoisting an 1,100-pound cannon on his shoulders and running away with it to keep out of British hands, killing three grenadiers and capturing an enemy flag after having suffered a bayonet wound to his abdomen and fighting off nine Tarleton's Raiders who tried to arrest him. Official reports say he killed 11 men at Guilford Courthouse in 1781, though he himself said he slew only four.
George Washington once said of him, "Without him, we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the war and with it our freedom. He was truly a one-man army."
Bowman, 37, works for an environmental services company and Web casts his own talk show, www.sundaynights.tv. A native of Baltimore, he has lived in North Carolina for four years.
About a year ago, he published a book, "Hercules of the Revolution," about Francisco. While attending a book show in New York, he was approached by a producer from the History Channel's parent company, A&E Television networks.
"He asked if I had considered putting together a documentary, and I said, 'As a matter of fact I have,' " Bowman said. "And a few weeks later I met with him in New York City and fleshed out the details. And he was talking about the idea of our founding fathers. And I said I had never really considered Peter Francisco to be a founding father. But we looked up the definition, and it's a broad term used not just for signers of the Declaration of Independence but anybody who was instrumental in the birthing of our nation."
Charlie Maday, who was working as senior vice president of the Military History Channel at the time, put him in touch with some people from the network.
"It was a story I hadn't heard before," he said in a telephone interview. "I thought it was fantastic. The guy was really quite a character."
Two years ago, Bowman showed up at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse anniversary observance dressed as Francisco. He won't be wearing a Revolutionary War uniform at the event this weekend, but he still plans to attend with his family.
"A lot of people don't know his story," Bowman said. "If you were to walk up to the average person, even in Greensboro, and ask if they know who Peter Francisco is, I bet most of them would say no. So my goal is to raise awareness of what he did."
Special ping to Clemenza for the Portuguese blood he has...
The RevWar/Colonial Histroy/General Washington ping list...
My ancestor Timothy Remmick served longer than any other Continental soldier. He was with Phinney’s Maine at Bunker Hill and stayed on until Yorktown.
Quite impressive...many of the RevWar soldiers kept diaries...do you have any records? I ask because following your Patriot ancestor through the war could also be a great TV story...
My ancestor, Isaac White, fought in the battle of Guilford court house and some believe him to be the same Isaac White who fought in the battle of King’s Mountain.
He was from NC and settled in Tennessee and is a ‘First Family of Tennesse’ guy.
I love this stuff!
Should be awesome. I enjoy History Channel programming that actually teach and dramatize history. I wish they would get back to that.
My ancestor was probably setting up an organized crime racket in Sicily at that time.
Wow. Looking forwardski!
I’ve always wondered why no one ever made a movie surrounding April 19, 1775 and the events leading up to it. A fictional script couldn’t be more dramatic.
--The sassy black tavern waitress outside of Boston who spotted Brit spies and called them out on it
--The capture of Gen. Lee by Tarleton at the Widow White's tavern in Basking Ridge, NJ being "entertained" by the Widow White and literally caught with his pants down
--The incredible spy ring that Washington ran
--The Quaker lady who risked her life spying for Washington
--The capture of Major Andre by local militia in NY north of NYC and his eventual execution
--The stories surrounding the beautiful and vivacious Kitty Greene (wife of Gen. Nathanael Greene)
...and on and on. But don't get me started...
I will look forward to this, but why does they the History Channel have a show about a Rev. War Soldier? I thought they were only doing chainsaws and big foot.
bump for Patriots !
He was 16 at this battle.
Picked up a cannon and carried it..amazing
Interesting story... one of my ancestors was a soldier in the Revolutionary War himself. Unfortunately, for the wrong side. He was an officer in Tarleton’s unit! I call that discovery ‘my Darth Vader moment’ in genealogy research.
On the flip side my wife has an ancestor who served in the civil war along with two brothers, all for Wisconsin regiments. One brother died in the fighting for Atlanta. The other brother had a list of escapades that would make for a good Civil War novel.
I hardly believed it all myself, but everything I’ve researched in the units’ roster and regimental history matches up perfectly with the family record. He enlisted as ‘John Smith’ in the 1st WI Cavalry (I guess ‘Johann Balthasar Messerschmidt’ was a bit much for the recruiting officer). Wounded, captured and left for dead in early fighting in Arkansas; recovered by his unit; fought in a long series of campaigns moving eastwards the next few years, culminating in his saving a detachment of troops at Resaca, GA for which he was made a brevet Captain.
Then at the Georgia battle where his brother died he was captured in a cavalry charge and sent to Andersonville. Tunneled out and got captured. Tunneled out again, got as far as Charleston, recaptured and put in the city jail. Escaped again and reached another town whose name I forget, just in front of an advancing Union army, and hid in a cellar until they arrived. Was then furloughed home, understandably, for the final months of the war.
The life of George Washington, as spymaster, has to be one of the great mysteries of early America. Washington, among his other qualities, seemed to have an impressive capacity to pick superb spies.
Many of whom were women, whose names are either missing, or still kept as secrets today, likely because some were English noblewomen.
Only Nathan Hale, who seemed to be missing a few vital brain gears, was the only one ever caught. And though it is rarely mentioned, Hale seemed to be determined to become a martyr. The British were more inclined to transport him back to England to face trial, likely to result in a prison term.
But he got his wish. In addition, because he was executed as a spy, the Americans were inclined to be as harsh when they captured Major Andre, even though everybody who knew Andre, even as a spy, liked him, and truly wished they didn’t have to hang him.
What seems like gentlemanly excess was indeed the case, because the colonies had been appalled by the utter savagery of the French and Indian War, followed by Pontiac’s Rebellion, impressive in their murderous brutality even by modern standards. For this reason, both the British and Americans tried hard to “keep it polite”, if at all possible.
Which wasn’t always possible, of course. But the relatively few acts of depravity committed during the much larger American Revolution, still stand in contrast to the two wars that proceeded it, even though the Revolution had many veterans from the previous wars.
For supporters and fans of the Guilford Battleground National Military Park:
The Guilford Battleground Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving history and telling the story of the sacrifices made for America’s freedom.
NC residents, please consider purchasing a specialty NC “Revolution” license tag to support the GBC.
Your family’s history could definitely be a mini-series!
Oops...I replied to the wrong post with that comment...pleasee above.
Thanks for your post...the story of Nathan Hale is all the more remarkable since his capture was coordinated by none other than Robert Rogers of Roger's Rangers fame during the French and Indian War.
Roger's story is a sad one, in that he became a drunk and wandered around the colonies rambling on with an incoherent politics. After Washington refused his offer, he joined the Brits.
Great thread. I am going to set up an an email reminder for July 1st to remind me to DVR this show.
Yeah...I was thinking about how to remind everyone when it is broadcast. I will just place it on my electronic calendar...D’oh! Thanks ...
Oh, Pedro Francisco!
I read a magazine article on him years ago in either American History or American Heritage (we got both).
I always wondered if this would make a good niche movie for the RevWar.
I highly doubt that story, no matter what his age.
1100 lbs is about impossible.
DRAGGED it, yes. Typically they had tow ropes anyway.
Yes...you are likely correct...some versions of the story have him attaching a rope and dragging it. Still an impressive feat.
If you have any recommendations for reading I'd love to hear 'em.
Hope they get it right
Thanks for posting this. I’ll have to read it later!
You are right, he certainly is still remembered here in the South.
(I am in North Carolina)
Don’t forget Mother Batherick!
Another great post with great comments.
Well, at least he wasn’t sitting on his tokus on government handouts!
I give anything to have an Italian in my ancestry! I love Italy and Italians!
His brother Sam died in obscurity.
Located on the edge of a large cleared field, on what was originally thought to be the third American line, this monument commemorates three men who fought for freedom, and those who served with them.
The inscriptions on the monument read:
TO THE MARQUIS OF BRITIGNY AND COL. WM. WASHINGTON
WHO WITH THEIR NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA CAVALRY CHARGED
AND RAN THROUGH AND OVER THE 2ND. QUEENS GUARDS IN THE
TO PETER FRANCISCO
A GIANT IN STATURE MIGHT AND COURAGE WHO SLEW IN THIS ENGAGEMENT ELEVEN OF THE ENEMY WITH HIS OWN BROAD SWORD RENDERING HIMSELF THEREBY PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS PRIVATE SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
The final resting place for two of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence from North Carolina. Buried beneath the monument are:
Born in Boston on June 17, 1742 he moved to Wilmington, NC in about 1765. He died in Hillsborough, North Carolina, on October 4, 1790.
Born in Caroline County, Virginia, May 17, 1741. He died near Stovall, North Carolina in 1788.
Also remembered is North Carolina's third signer of the Declaration of Independence, Joseph Hewes. Hewes was born in Kingston, New Jersey, in 1720 and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1799. He is buried in an unknown location in Christ Churchyard in Philadelphia.
The inscription on the monument reads:
WILLIAM HOOPER AND JOHN PENN
NORTH CAROLINA 1776 TO THE
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS AND SIGNERS
OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
THEIR REMAINS WERE REINTERRED
HERE 1894. HEWES GRAVE IS LOST
HE WAS THE THIRD SIGNER
"LEE, HENRY AND HOOPER WERE THE
ORATORS OF THE CONGRESS"
JOHN ADAMS' DIARY VOL. 2. P. 396, 1774
Kerenhappuch Turner Monument
This monument was erected to the memory of the mother of a soldier who fought in the battle of Guilford Courthouse, Kerenhappuch Norman Turner, by two of her relatives.
The inscription on the monument reads:
A HEROINE OF '76
MRS. KERENHAPPUCH TURNER
MOTHER OF ELIZABETH
THE WIFE OF JOSEPH
MOREHEAD OF N.C. AND
GRANDMOTHER OF CAPTAIN
JAMES AND OF JOHN MOREHEAD
A YOUNG N.C. SOLDIER UNDER
GREENE, RODE HORSE-BACK FROM
HER MARYLAND HOME AND AT
GUILFORD COURTHOUSE NURSED
TO HEALTH A BADLY WOUNDED SON.
J. TURNER AND JOS. MOTLEY MOREHEAD
Joseph Winston Monument
This monument was erected to the memory of Joseph Winston and to two of his "Surry County Boys" of the Surry Militia.
The inscription on the monument reads:
IN MEMORY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS UNDER MAJOR JOSEPH
WINSTON WHO WERE FIGHTING THE HESSIANS AND TARLETON'S
CAVALRY NEAR THIS SPOT AFTER THE CONTINENTAL LINE HAD
RETREATED FROM THE FIELD OF BATTLE MARCH 15, 1781
ERECTED BY GOVERNOR THOMAS M. HOLT 1893
MAJOR JOSEPH WINSTON
CAPTAIN JESSE FRANKLIN
PALAMAN QUI MERUIT FERAT
(Let him who has won the palm bear it)
Thanks for posting this...makes terrific reading, and offers some great new facts (for me, at least). I look forward to visiting this park and other RevWar historic locations in the Southland.
Ya gotta watch those pesky Portugee pirates. They’ll run off with anything left lying around, even cannons.
There is a bit of a mystery regarding the Marquis of Britigny (Marquis de Bretagne). Apparently that was a nom de guerre, along with “Captain Cosmo de Medici.”
He is believed by the NC Grand Lodge to actually have been Francois Sevelinges, who settled after the war at New Bern, and prospered exporting tobacco there until the market went bust again (it was a continual boom-bust cycle from the 1600’s on).
Interesting history in it’s own right, with him.