"Virginia Giant" or “Giant of the Revolution” - an American Patriot 6 Foot six inches tall, weight 260 pounds.
In June 1765, Peter (Pedro) Francisco was found abandoned at a wharf in present-day Hopewell, Virginia ( then City Point). He was then about five years of age, and was believed to have been Portuguese, possibly from the Azores, and possibly kidnapped from his homeland and taken to America. Raised as an indentured servant by Judge Anthony Winston, Peter was trained as a blacksmith.
In 1775, he heard Judge Winston's nephew, Patrick Henry, give his famous speech, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”, and became a supporter of the colonies breaking away from England. By 1776, Peter had joined the 10th Virginia Militia as a private. A five-foot sword was given him by Gen. George Washington, after Francisco's complaint that ordinary swords were too light.
At the age of 15 he was permitted to enlist, in 1776, as a private in the 10th Virginia Regiment. He re-enlisted two more times and was injured at least four times, once being left for dead. His feats were legendary. He reportedly picked up a one thousand pound cannon and hauled it on his back off the battlefield in New Jersey. Another story tells how he singelhandedly escaped from nine British soldiers that were holding him prisoner and escaped with their horses. His strength, size and bravery led to him being called "Hercules of the Revolution" and "The Giant of Virginia." After the war he became a wealthy store owner and was named the Sergeant-of-Arms for the Virginia House of Delegates. He was a national hero in the 1800s with children's books written about him and several states setting aside March 15th as "Peter Francisco Day." Several monuments and parks are named in his honor and in 1975 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to celebrate his service to his country. An original eighteenth century engraving of this soldier is on display at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Peter was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, and was at Valley Forge with Washington and Lafayette. He was wounded again, in 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, then in the big Battle of Cowpens, after starting his third enlistment. At Cowpens he was part of Lt. Col. William Washington’s troops.
He was at the Battle of Stony Point, where he was wounded again, with a British bayonet (that soldier he then killed, who had been under Lt. Col Basastre Tarleton). Further wounds were received at the Battle of Camden, and then, with Colonel Watkins, at the Guilford Courthouse Battle, where he was bayoneted again in the leg. In the various battles he killed 11 men.
After the Guilford Courthouse battle, he defeated Tarleton’s Raiders in what was called “Francisco’s Fight” and made off with most of their horses. Peter was at Yorktown to see the British surrender. (Then) Colonel George Washington was so impressed that he offered him a commission, but Francisco declined (due to his lack of education), and stated that, ‘Without him, we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the war, and with it our freedom," and "He was truly a one-man army."
At war’s end, in 1783, Peter went home to Buckingham, Virginia. He had inherited a farmhouse and land, named “Locust Grove”, in Richmond, Virginia, from his first wife, Susannah.
He was a legend in his own time.
Peter died of appendicitis Jan. 16, 1831 in Richmond, VA.
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