Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MePHERSON, William, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1751; died near there, 5 November, 1813. He was appointed a cadet in the British navy at thirteen years of age, became adjutant, and resigned at the beginning of the Revolution, but his resignation was not accepted until 1779. At this date he joined the American army, with the rank of brevet-major, served as aide-de-camp to Lafayette, and in 1781 was appointed by Washington to command an irregular corps of cavalry in Virginia, he became surveyor in 1789, inspector of the revenue in 1792, and from the next year until his death was naval officer of the port of Philadelphia. During the disturbances in the western counties of Pennsylvania in 1794 regarding the excise brew, he commanded the "McPherson Blues," a battalion of militia that was named in his honor. Before the return of the army he was promoted colonel, and subsequently became brigadier-general of Pennsylvania militia. On the prospect of war with France in 1798, the Blues were reorganized, with additional companies, and formed into a legion under his command. In 1799 he was appointed brigadier-general of the provisional army, and commanded the troops that were sent to enforce the revenue laws in Northampton county during the Fries rebellion.
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