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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Peter Francisco

FRANCISCO, Peter, soldier, born in 1761; died in Richmond, Virginia, in 1832. His origin is obscure, but it is supposed that he was kidnapped from Portugal and taken to Ireland. He resolved to come to America, and indentured himself to a sea captain. On arriving in City Point, near Petersburg, Virginia, he was taken to the poorhouse, where he remained until he was bound to Judge Anthony Winston, of Buckingham County, on whose estate he labored until the beginning of the Revolution. He obtained permission from his master to enlist in the Continental army in 1777, and served with Lafayette at the battles of Brandywine, Yorktown, Monmouth, where he was wounded by a musket ball, Cowpens, and Stony Point, where he was second to enter the fortress, and received a bayonet wound. After serving in skirmishes under Colonel Morgan, he volunteered under Colonel Mayo, of Powhatan, and was present at General Gates's defeat at Camden. Here he saved the life of Colonel Mayo, and that officer afterward presented him with 1,000 acres of land on Richland creek, Kentucky. On hearing of Cornwallis's march through the south he volunteered under Colonel Watkins, and took part in the battle of Guilford, N.C. His bravery was equal to his strength, which was Herculean. He could shoulder a cannon weighing 1,000 pounds, and the blade of his sword was five feet in length. Many anecdotes are related of his physical power. On his return to Virginia in 1781, he stopped at a tavern in Amelia, and was made prisoner by a detachment of Tarleton's dragoons, who were stationed there. While one of the Tories was stooping to take off his silver shoe buckles, Francisco drew his sword and cleft the man through the head. He frightened the rest of the party and made his escape, although Tarleton's corps was in full view. This exploit was illustrated in an engraving, which was a favorite ornament of that period, and was published by James Webster, of Pennsylvania (1814). On some occasions he was more successful in restoring public order than the civil authorities. Through the influence of Charles Yancey he was appointed sergeant-at-arms in the Virginia House of Delegates, which office he held until his death. John Randolph, of Roanoke, brought the attention of congress to Francisco's military career, and applied for a pension for him.

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