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Patrick Ferguson

From Academic Kids

Patrick Ferguson (17441780), British Army officer. Patrick Ferguson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 25(Old Style)/June 4 (New Style) 1744, the second son and fourth child of advocate James Ferguson of Pitfour and his wife Anne Murray, a sister of the literary patron Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank.

He began his military career in his teens, encouraged by his uncle James Murray. He served briefly in Germany with the Scots Greys during the Seven Years War, until a leg ailment - probably tuberculosis in the knee - forced him to return. After recovering, now in peace-time, he served with his regiment on garrison duty. In 1768, he purchased a company in 70th Regiment of Foot, under the Colonelcy of his cousin Alexander Johnstone, and served with them in the West Indies until his lame leg again began to trouble him.

After returning home in 1772, he took part in light infantry training, coming to the attention of General Howe, and developed the Ferguson Rifle, a breech-loading flintlock weapon based on Chaumette's earlier system.

In 1777 he went to serve in the American Revolutionary War with his experimental rifle corps. However, he was shot through the right elbow-joint at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. For some months he lived under threat of amputation, but recovered, although his right arm was permanently crippled. He resumed his career in May 1778 under the command of Sir Henry Clinton. In 1780 Clinton appointed Major Ferguson as Inspector of Militia in South Carolina. He was killed at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, while commanding Loyal American troops. He is buried near the site of his fall. A bachelor, he is buried with one of his mistresses, 'Virginia Sal', who was also killed in the battle.

His personal correspondence reveals a man of intelligence, humour and charm. He also wrote several articles, satirical in tone, for publication in Rivington's Royal Gazette, under the pseudonyms 'Egg-Shell', 'Memento Mori' and 'John Bull'.

External link

Further reading

  • M.M. Gilchrist; "Patrick Ferguson: A Man of Some Genius"; 2003, National Museums of Scotland; 2004, (paperback edition), ISBN 1901663744.

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