A Deep Heritage Rooted in Sacrifice

With the holidays behind us I have the opportunity to again explore those events and individuals who, in measure, made our freedoms what they are. I read a lot, sometimes I reflect with all the political commentary that there those who paid a terrific price for our amusing’s on the political landscape. On this day in 1777 American Brigadier General Hugh Mercer died because of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero and rallying symbol of the American Revolution.

Mercer (January 17, 1726 – January 12, 1777) was a soldier and physician. He initially served with British forces during the Seven Years’ War but later became a brigadier general in the Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington. There are rumors that Mercer exclusively originated Washington’s daring plan to cross the Delaware River and surprise the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, and he was certainly a major contributor to its execution.

When Washington decided to face off with Cornwallis during the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, Mercer was given a major role in the defense of the city. The next day, January 3, Washington’s army was en route to Princeton, New Jersey. While leading a vanguard of 350 soldiers, Mercer’s brigade encountered two British regiments and a mounted unit. A fight broke out at an orchard grove and Mercer’s horse was shot from under him. Getting to his feet, he was quickly surrounded by British troops who mistook him for George Washington and ordered him to surrender.

This is the important part. Outnumbered, he drew his saber and began an unequal contest. He was finally beaten to the ground, then bayoneted repeatedly – seven times – and left for dead. When he learned of the British attack and saw some of Mercer’s men in retreat, Washington himself entered the fray. Washington rallied Mercer’s men and pushed back the British regiments, but Mercer had been left on the field to die with multiple bayonet wounds to his body and blows to his head.

Legend has it that a beaten Mercer, with a bayonet still impaled in him, did not want to leave his men and the battle and was given a place to rest on a white oak tree’s trunk, while those who remained with him stood their ground. The tree became known as “the Mercer Oak” and is the key element of the seal of Mercer County, New Jersey.

And so, we celebrate the sacrifice of a veteran and leader with discourse on various political outcomes and ongoing events. Never forget we owe that to the same kind of veterans that remain in our community. God bless them all.

The American legion Post 142 will honor Dr. Martin Luther King and our past Presidents with flags flying as these holidays are observed.  Growing up I was amazed at the courage and fortitude of Dr. King and others that paved a way. I am proud to have lived through so many dynamic years, sad in some ways yet amazed.

The Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for January, except when it is below freezing, are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy and always a cup of coffee. And meetings are the first and third Thursday evenings (19th).  I look forward to Commander and Vice Commander’s updates from the State Convention. Keep your eye on the weather in case things must be postponed. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also, keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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