Hugh W. Mercer
|Hugh Weedon Mercer|
November 27, 1808|
|Died||June 9, 1877
|Place of burial||Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
Confederate States of America
|Service/branch|| United States Army
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||1828–1835 (USA)
|Rank|| First Lieutenant (USA)
First Lieutenant (Georgia Militia)
Brigadier General (CSA)
|Unit||2nd U.S. Artillery|
|Commands held||10th Georgia Infantry Battalion
1st Georgia Infantry Regiment
District of Georgia
|Battles/wars||American Civil War
- Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
- Battle of Atlanta
Hugh W. Mercer was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to a wealthy and well-known family. His grandfather and namesake Hugh Mercer of Pennsylvania had been a general under George Washington during the American Revolution. Mercer attended West Point in 1824. He was expelled because he had been a participant in the Eggnog Riot in 1826. But following a pardon by President John Quincy Adams, Mercer was permitted to graduate in 1828 (3rd out of 33).
Mercer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Artillery. He spent much of his time serving in Georgia and was an aide to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott. Mercer was promoted to first lieutenant of artillery in October 1834.
In April 1835, he resigned his commission and settled in Savannah where he married a local woman. While Mercer worked as a bank cashier, he served as an artillery officer in the Georgia Militia. He started building the Italianate-style Mercer House on Bull Street at the southwest end of Monterey Square, in Savannah. However the Civil War interrupted its construction and no Mercer ever lived there.
In 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate army, and was commissioned as the colonel of the 1st Georgia Infantry. He was promoted to brigadier general by the end of October. He served as commander of the District of Georgia. In August 1862, he played a major role in impressing the first group of slaves and free blacks into service for the Confederacy. By November, however, he lost his authority to impress workers, and depended on Gov. Joseph E. Brown and local sheriffs to provide slaves to join the Confederate effort. At the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign, he left Savannah and took command of a brigade in the Army of Tennessee.
Mercer fought at Dalton, Marietta and Kennesaw Mountain (where his son was wounded). Following the Battle of Atlanta in 1864, he became ill and was relieved of command. He was sent home to Savannah where he served under Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee. Mercer was considered to be a good officer however he was unable to endure the physical demands of active duty.
Mercer commanded the 10th Battalion, Georgia Infantry, which was charged with the defense of the Savannah area. When Hardee retreated in December 1864, Mercer left the city, returning after the fighting ended. He was briefly imprisoned on at Fort Pulaski, which he had once commanded, on Cockspur Island after the end of the war, along with other prominent Confederate leaders.
Post war Mercer returned to Savannah and resumed his work in banking. In 1869 he moved to Baltimore where he worked as a commission merchant. However with failing health, Mercer traveled to the spa resort in Baden-Baden, Germany for treatment in 1872. He died there in 1877. Mercer's body was returned to Savannah. He was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery, owned by City of Savannah, located in Thunderbolt, Georgia.