Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Peter Francisco: A One Man Army (1760-1831) - Apr. 7th, 2005
Posted on 04/06/2005 9:41:34 PM PDT by SAMWolf
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A six-and-a-half-foot-tall Hercules who wielded a six-foot-long broadsword, Peter Francisco was arguably the most remarkable soldier of the Revolutionary War.
Peter Francisco, giant member of the American forces at Guilford, who slew 11 men with his oversized sword during the battle.
If such a film were made, one can imagine the opening scene: in the foreground a wooden pier juts out into a misty harbor, where the stillness is broken only by the cries of a few gulls. Gradually, the sound of splashing oars becomes audible. A longboat emerges from the fog; then, as the scene brightens, the silhouette of the merchantman from which it came appears in the distance. The boat pulls alongside the dock; sailors' rough voices mutter unintelligibly as the form of a small person is lifted from the bobbing craft and set on the pier.
A shout is heard and the boat quickly departs. The bewildered castaway turns toward the camera. He is a young boy, no more than four or five years old, dressed in a once-fine suit that now is dirty and worn. On his shoes expensive silver buckles spell out the initials "P.F."
At daybreak the pier begins to come to life. Waterfront residents gather curiously around the waif, asking questions. Unable to speak their language, he simply repeats the words "Pedro Francisco." Eventually a woman comes along, takes the child by the hand, and leads him away, saying "I'll take him to the poorhouse. They'll know what to do with him."
This scenario, though a bit romanticized, is roughly what happened at City Point (now a part of Hopewell), Virginia, on June 23, 1765. The boy later grew up--and up--to become the most remarkable fighting man of the Revolutionary War, a giant of a soldier of whom General George Washington is reputed to have said: "Without him we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the War, and with it our freedom. He was truly a One-Man Army."
Diorama of Col. William Washington's cavalry attacking British regulars. Peter Francisco, left foreground.
Soon after young Pedro Francisco was taken to the Prince George County poorhouse, his plight came to the attention of Anthony Winston, a local judge and uncle to Virginia firebrand Patrick Henry. Winston took the lad in and taught him to speak English.
Once the boy could communicate with his new guardian, he recounted what he remembered of his past, but it wasn't much. He had lived in a mansion near the ocean, he said. His mother spoke what he thought was French; his father spoke another language--what, he couldn't say. One day, when Pedro and his younger sister were playing in the garden, rough men seized them. The girl fought and got away, but Pedro was bound, blindfolded, gagged, and carried to a ship. After what seemed an endless voyage, he was put ashore at the City Point dock.
Winston never learned anything more about the boy's past, but later investigators have been more successful in piecing together what appears to be a likely, if partial, solution to the Peter Francisco mystery. In 1971, Virginia researcher John E. Manahan, reporting on studies he had carried out while teaching overseas, argued convincingly that Francisco's original home had been at Porto Judeu, on Terceira Island in the Portuguese-held Azores, and that he was the same Pedro Francisco born there on July 9, 1760.
Why Francisco was abducted remains a mystery. Manahan theorized that the child had been kidnapped by sailors who intended to sell him in the New World as an indentured servant, but the researcher offered no explanation of why they abandoned their captive instead. An Azorean legend has it that the Francisco family, fearful of political enemies, engineered Pedro's abduction as a means of protecting him from some grisly form of reprisal planned against his parents. While this may be true, evidence is lacking. But that Peter Francisco was a Portuguese (which he himself suspected) seems almost certain, and Portuguese-Americans have eagerly accepted him as an illustrious forebear.
Peter Francisco's shoe. The shoe is equivalent to a size 10 1/2 D. "Mr. Francisco" is written in lining.
Whether or not the sailors in fact intended to sell the boy into indentured servitude, that more or less became his fate. Rather than provide Peter with formal schooling, Judge Winston put him to work doing chores around his plantation, a 3,600-acre estate in Buckingham County, Virginia, known as "Hunting Tower."
In adulthood Peter was destined to attain the then-prodigious height of six-feet-six-inches--nearly a foot taller than the average man at the time--and weigh at least 260 pounds. Already of surpassing stature by his early teens, the youth was instructed in the brawny trade of blacksmithing--an obvious calling for a person of his size and amazing strength. It was the latter rather than his height that got him noticed.
In March 1775, when he was not yet fifteen, Francisco went along with Judge Winston to Richmond for a meeting of the Virginia Convention. Tempers flared as delegates hotly debated the colony's relationship with Great Britain.Young Peter contributed to the excitement when he broke up one tavern dispute by lifting the combatants into the air and banging them together until they ceased their argument.
Francisco's strength, bravery, and size made him one of the most famous soldiers of the American Revolution.
Virginia Historical Society
It was during this convention that the lad stood outside St. John's Church and heard through the window the renowned speech by Patrick Henry that ended: "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Peter, as the story goes, was ready right there to take up arms against the British oppressors, but Judge Winston prevailed upon him to wait: though large enough to go to war, he was not quite old enough. In 1776 Winston relented, and at the age of sixteen Peter enlisted with the 10th Virginia regiment as a private.
Although Francisco was not at Bunker Hill or Saratoga, in many other respects his military career closely followed the course of the War of Independence. After a stay of several months in New Jersey following his enlistment, Francisco received his first taste of action in September 1777 at Brandywine Creek in neighboring Pennsylvania, where General Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, attempted to halt the advance toward Philadelphia of some 12,500 British troops under the command of General William Howe.
Outflanked by Howe, the Americans suffered a defeat in the ensuing battle, and Washington's army was forced into a disorderly retreat. The regiment of which Francisco was a member held the line at a narrow defile called Sandy Hollow Gap for a crucial forty-five minutes, allowing the rest of the force to withdraw and preventing an all-out rout. The young soldier suffered a gunshot wound to his leg during this hard-fought rear-guard action.
Francisco was with the troops at Fort Mifflin on Port Island in the Delaware River from late October to mid-November. This post was abandoned under ferocious British shelling, forcing the defenders into the wintry hell of Valley Forge, where Francisco was hospitalized for two of those agonizing months.
For the next three years, Francisco followed his commanders through a succession of engagements. In several instances he performed exploits of such an extraordinary and courageous nature that by war's end he became generally recognized as "the most famous private soldier of the Revolutionary War."
On July 15-16, 1779 the young Goliath took part in the daring surprise attack led by General "Mad Anthony" Wayne on Stony Point, the British Army's stronghold on the Hudson River, north of New York City. The American assault columns were spearheaded by two twenty-man commando units known as "forlorn hopes"; Francisco was in the northern one, commanded by a Lieutenant Gibbon. Gibbon's unit sustained so many casualties that only he, Francisco, and one other man reached their objective, but the advance party was right behind them, and the Americans captured the fort.
During the attack Francisco suffered his third wound of the war, a nine-inch gash in the stomach, but that didn't stop him from killing three enemy grenadiers and capturing the enemy's flag. After recuperating in Fishkill, New York, the wounded warrior bided his time with the troops in various locations until December 1779, when his three-year tour of duty expired and he returned to Virginia.
British strategy called for the capture of Savannah and the securing of Georgia, to be followed by a move north into South Carolina. Congress selected General Horatio Gates, the unpleasant intriguer whose victory at Saratoga in 1777 had puffed up his reputation, as the man to check the Redcoats' advance in the South. The ensuing operations, known as the "Camden Campaign," were an American fiasco, and Francisco was there to experience the unfortunate episode.
The first major clash in the South between the Continentals and the British Army came at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780. The outcome, an utter rout, was labeled by nineteenth-century historian John Fiske as "the most disastrous defeat ever inflicted on an American army," but nonetheless here Francisco achieved one of his most shining moments. Overtaken and surrounded by the enemy during the panicked American retreat, the lad speared a British cavalryman with a bayonet, hoisted him from his horse, and then, climbing onto the steed himself, escaped through the enemy line by pretending to be a Tory sympathizer. Catching up with his fleeing comrades, he gave the mount to his colonel, thereby saving the exhausted officer's life.
Francisco again returned to Virginia after the Camden debacle, but not for long. When he learned that Captain Thomas Watkins was raising a cavalry troop, he got himself a horse and returned to action. Watkins's unit was assigned to the command of Colonel William Washington and was soon involved in the crucial confrontation at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, on March 15, 1781.
The Continentals were now under the command of Nathanael Greene, who, unlike Gates, proved worthy of the confidence placed in him. Greene's actions in the South were instrumental in bringing the war to a victorious conclusion. Technically, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse was a British victory, for Greene's soldiers retreated after a hard-fought contest; but it was a Pyrrhic one--the losses suffered by the British, now under the command of Lord Cornwallis, were so grave that his army was effectively wrecked. Later Cornwallis wrote that the "Americans fought like demons" in what was one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
| 'Without him we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the War, and with it our freedom. He was truly a One Man Army.'
General George Washington
** The weapon of which Lossing spoke was a specially-made six-foot broadsword with a five-foot blade that had been delivered to Francisco shortly before the battle on order from General Washington.
I see that Mr. Francisco had six children. This is very satisfactory. Probably the worst thing about war is that the very best young men can never raise families. We need every good man and woman we can get.
Possibly Kazmeier as well.
First in, heh.
Good morning, Snippy((HUGS))and everyone at the Foxhole.
I was in my second year of widowhood and I was struggling. Morning after morning my prayer-life consisted of one daily sigh: "Lord, I shouldn't be struggling like this!" "And why not?" His still, small voice asked me from within one morning.
Then the answer came-unrecognized pride! Somehow I had thought that a person of my spiritual maturity should be beyond such struggle. What a ridiculous thought! I had never been a widow before and needed the freedom to be a true learner-even a struggling learner.
At the same time, I was reminded of the story of a man who took home a cocoon so he could watch the emperor moth emerge. As the moth struggled to get through the tiny opening, the man enlarged it with a snip of his scissors. The moth emerged easily-but its wings were shriveled. The struggle through the narrow opening is God's way to force fluid from its body into its wings. The "merciful" snip, in reality, was cruel.
Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as a race that involves endurance, discipline, and correction. We never get beyond the need of a holy striving against self and sin. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need to become what God intends us to be. -Joanie Yoder
To give us little rest,
His only purpose is our good-
He wants for us His best. -D. De Haan
We experience God's strength in the strain of our struggle.
Joseph: Overcoming Life's Challenges
Why Is Life So Unfair?
Here is the blow by blow account of the demise of the Yamato. An extra large lift of the alfa6 lid to the folks at http://www.combinedfleet.com/for the accounts that I posted yesterday and today and the folks at http://www.bismarck-class.dk for the illustrations of the Yamato.
0200: The Attack Force, zigzagging at 22 knots on a southerly course, passes the Miyazaki coast and reaches the entrance to Osumi Kaikyo Channel. Speed is slowed to 16 knots.
0600: The YAMATO launches her Aichi E13A1 Type 0 "Jake" reconnaissance floatplane.
0630: Six Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters of Vice Admiral Ugaki's 5th Air Fleet's 203rd Naval Air Group arrive to provide air cover. For the next three and one-half hours, a total of 14 "Zekes" from the Kasanbara air base on Kyushu, provide cover in small groups. The YAMATO's "Jake" returns to Kyushu.
0657: The ASASHIMO begins lagging behind the force with engine trouble.
0832: The Attack Force is sighted by a searching Grumman F6F "Hellcat" from the USS ESSEX (CV-9).
0840: The Attack Force briefly sights seven "Hellcat" fighters, but they are not seen by the escorting "Zekes".
1014: The Attack Force sights two large Martin "Mariner" PBM flying boats. The Japanese also spot the HACKLEBACK trailing the Attack Force.
1017: The YAMATO turns towards the planes and opens fire unsuccessfully as does the cruiser YAHAGI. While the YAHAGI jams their sighting messages, the YAMATO receives a report from a Japanese scout plane that Task Force 58 has been located east of Okinawa, 250 nautical miles from the Attack Force.
1018: The aircraft are lost behind the clouds. Both ships cease firing.
1022: The Attack Force turns towards Sasebo.
1107: The YAMATO's Type 13 air search radar operator reports contact with a large aircraft formation at his set's maximum range of 63 miles. He reports the formation at bearing 180, heading north, and splitting into two groups. All ships increase speed to 25 knots and commence a simultaneous turn.
1115: A report that had been delayed for 25 minutes by transmission and decoding, is received finally. It says that the Kikaigashima Island lookout station saw 150 carrier planes heading northwest. Just then, eight F6F "Hellcats" appear and begin circling over the force to maintain contact until the main formation arrives. The YAMATO and the YAHAGI open fire, increase speed to 24 knots and commence a series of sharp evasive maneuvers.
Air search reports two groups of aircraft, range 44 miles, closing at high speed. The sky is still overcast and visibility is poor. Then radar reports the closing aircraft have turned towards the force. The Attack Force resumes zigzagging.
1129: The Attack Force turns to course 205, towards Okinawa.
1222: A lookout spots three Japanese troopships on bearing 0250 heading for Amami-Oshima.
1232: A lookout spots American planes 25 degrees to port, elevation 8, range 4,375 yards, moving to port. This is the first wave of 280 aircraft (132 fighters, 50 bombers, 98 torpedo planes) from Task Group 58. 1: USS HORNET (CV-12), HANCOCK (CV-19), BENNINGTON (CV-20), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) and the SAN JACINTO (CVL-30) and from Task Group 58. 3: USS ESSEX (CV-9), BUNKER HILL (CV-17), BATAAN (CVL-24) and the CABOT (CVL-28).
Lagging behind the main force, the destroyer ASASHIMO is attacked and sunk by aircraft from the SAN JACINTO.
1234: The YAMATO opens fire with her two forward main turrets and AA guns.
1235: The YAMATO stops zigzagging and increases speed to 24 knots. Her nine 18.1-inch guns firing "Sanshikidan" beehive shells, twenty-four 127-mm. AA guns and one hundred fifty-two 25-mm AA guns all open fire. The American planes release their bombs and torpedoes and strafe the bridge with machine-gun fire.
1240: The YAMATO is hit by two AP bombs. Smoke rises from the vicinity of the mainmast and a bomb explodes in the same area. The aft secondary battery fire control, secondary gun turret and the air search radar are knocked out.
The Attack Force changes course to 100 degrees. "Helldivers" from the BENNINGTON and the HORNET attack from port. At flank speed, the YAMATO commences a right turn but two 1000-lb AP bombs hit her. The first explodes in the crew's quarters abaft the Type 13 radar shack. The second penetrates the port side of the aft Command station and explodes between the 155-mm gun magazine and main gun turret No. 3's upper powder magazine. It starts a fire that cannot be extinguished and rips a 60-foot hole in the weather deck. One "Helldiver" is shot down, another is damaged badly.
1243: A section of five low flying "Avengers" from the HORNET start a torpedo run from the port, bearing 70 degrees. The YAMATO, at 27 knots flank speed, heels to starboard in evasive action. The "Avengers" drop three torpedoes. One strikes her port side near the forward windlass room. One "Avenger" is shot down. The YAMATO ships 2,350-tons of water. Damage Control counterfloods with 604-tons of water. Fourteen F4U Chance-Vought "Corsairs" from the BUNKER HILL strafe and rocket the YAMATO but cause only minor damage. ,p. 1245: Thirty-four "Hellcats", 22 "Helldivers" and one "Corsair" attack the YAMATO's escorts. DesDiv 17's HAMAKAZE takes a near miss on her starboard quarter that disables her starboard shaft. ,p. 1247: A torpedo strikes the HAMAKAZE starboard, aft of amidships and she jackknifes. The SUZUTSUKI takes a 500-lb GP bomb hit to starboard, abreast her No. 2 gun mount. Two dud rockets hit the FUYUTSUKI.
1250: The first attack wave retires. The destroyer SUZUTSUKI wreathed in black smoke, burns furiously. The light cruiser YAHAGI, without headway, drifts helplessly behind the main force. The YAMATO, despite hits by two bombs and one torpedo, maintains flank speed.
1300: The YAMATO changes course to 180 degrees, due South.
1302: Her remaining air search radar reports the approach of a second attack wave. The Attack Force changes course due south to 180 degrees. 1322: The YAMATO increases speed to 22 knots. A "Corsair" from the ESSEX drops a 1000-lb GP bomb that hits the superstructure in the port bow area. Twelve "Helldivers" claim several hits near the bridge and main gun turret No. 3. Five "Helldivers" are damaged by AA fire.
1333: Another 110 aircraft from Task Group 58. 4: USS YORKTOWN (CV-10), INTREPID (CV-11), LANGLEY (CVL-27) engage the Attack Force. This time all the attacks are concentrated against the battleship. Twenty "Avengers" make a new torpedo run from 60 degrees to port. The YAMATO starts a sharp turn to port but three torpedoes rip into her port side amidships. Her auxiliary rudder is jammed in position hard port.
The YAMATO has taken a total of four torpedo hits. She ships about 3,000-tons of seawater. She lists about seven degrees to port. Damage Control counter-floods both starboard engine and boiler rooms and almost entirely corrects the list. The YAMATO starts a turn starboard to course 230 degrees. One of her lookouts spots the tracks of four torpedoes approaching. The first torpedoes pass by harmlessly, but the remaining two strike her port amidships. She takes on a heavy list to port and her speed drops to 18 knots. Armor-piercing and other bombs make a shambles of her upper works.
1342: The YAMATO turns hard to port. She continues to throw up a screen of desperate flak fire. One "Avenger" is shot down but her barrage is largely ineffective because each AA battery fires independently without coordination. The escorts cannot defend the flagship either.
1402: Three bombs explode port amidships, five minutes later a torpedo hits her starboard side amidships. Ten minutes later, two more torpedoes strike her port side. The YAMATO's list increases to about 15 degrees and her speed slows to 12 knots.
Executive Officer Nomura Jiro reports to Captain Aruga that his damage control officers are all dead and that the counter-flooding system can no longer correct the list. He suggests that the order to abandon ship be given. The Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Ito, orders the mission cancelled and directs the remaining ships to pick up as many survivors as possible. The Emperor's portrait is removed.
1405: The light cruiser YAHAGI, hit by 12 bombs and seven torpedoes sinks exactly one minute after the last bomb hits. LtCdr (later Captain) Herbert Houck, the leader of 43 TBM Avengers of VT-9 from the YORKTOWN, detaches Lt Thomas Stetson's six Avengers in a final torpedo attack from the ship's starboard side. Stetson's crewmen reset their Mark 13 torpedoes' running depth to 20 feet. Listing heavily to port, the YAMATO's exposed hull is hit by several more torpedoes. She rolls slowly over her port side on her beam ends.
1423: Sunk: The YAMATO's No. 1 magazine explodes and sends up a cloud of smoke seen 100 miles away. She slips under followed by an underwater explosion. The YAMATO sinks at 30-22 N, 128-04 E. Vice Admiral Ito and the YAMATO's skipper Captain Aruga and 3,063 men are lost. Aruga receives a rare double promotion posthumously to Vice Admiral on the request of Admiral Toyoda. Later that day, the battered destroyers ISOKAZE and the KASUMI are scuttled and sink. 1,187 crewmen of DesRon 2's light cruiser the YAHAGI and the four destroyers are also lost.
There's too much blood in my caffeine system this morning. Trying to remedy that now.
I had to read that twice. LOL
It isn't remedied yett. LOL
I think I've been burning the candle at both ends for too many days. I need to get out and start getting errands done soon..... but, I'm not quite there yet. LOL
Wanna come to Texas to work real hard and help me with this packing-to-move? :-)
Ain't that the truth!
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