Capt. John Fenton Mercer, the commander of the troops at Fort Edwards at the Battle of Great Cacapehon on April 18, 1756, was killed along with sixteen others in that encounter. He was from a well-known Virginia family.
John Fenton Mercer was born at Chingomilican, MD, on August 31,1735. His father, John Mercer, was a prominent lawyer in Virginia, and a member of the Ohio Company. His mother, Catherine Mason Mercer, was from the well-known Mason family, and George Mason of Gunston Hall was her nephew and John Fenton’s cousin.
John Fenton followed his older brother George into military service, being listed as an Ensign on the rolls taken at Wills Creek, July 19, 1754, before the capitulation of Fort Necessity. He was a Lieutenant in Robert Steward’s company of horse in the Fort Duquesne expedition, and was commissioned a Captain in 1755.
In April, 1756, he was the commander of about one hundred men stationed at Fort Edwards. He led a party of about fifty men out in pursuit of Indians and was ambushed and killed along with Ensign Thomas Carter and 15 soldiers. This massacre sent chills through the Burgesses and made them acutely aware of the desperate situation on the frontier.
last updated: November 30, 2001
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