Peter Francisco Day
On 24 February 1973 the Senate concurred with a resolution declaring
March fifteenth of each year to be Peter Francisco Day.
An engraving of Peter Francisco. Virginia Historical Society, Accession no. 1995.16
Peter Francisco's (c.1760–1831) fame has dimmed in recent years, but he once was as well known as Davy
Crockett or Daniel Boone. Schoolchildren in the 1800s became acquainted with his incredible adventures through
serial novels about this "Hercules of the Revolution," and the "Giant of Virginia." Legend has it that he arrived here
as a child in 1765 under mysterious circumstances. A ship, presumably Spanish or Portuguese, left the young
Peter ashore at the wharves in City Point (now Hopewell). The abandoned boy was indentured to Judge
Anthony Winston and grew up in Buckingham County.
When Francisco was sixteen, he enlisted in the Virginia Continental troops and served with distinction at
the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. His strength, bravery, and size (perhaps six feet
six inches and 260 pounds) made him one of the most famous soldiers of the American Revolution. A
popular story related how he rescued a 1,100-pound cannon from the British at Camden by picking it
up and carrying it off the battlefield on his back. In another wartime exploit, Francisco was surrounded
by nine Tory dragoons at Ward's Tavern in Amelia County. Despite being wounded and greatly
outnumbered, Francisco managed to escape and steal the horses of his attackers.
After the Revolution, Francisco operated a tavern and general store in Buckingham. Later, he and his
wife moved to Richmond, and he served as sergeant-at-arms of the Virginia House of Delegates for the
last six years of his life. The January 18, 1831 issue of the Richmond Enquirer carried this eulogy: "Died
on Sunday in this city, after a lingering indisposition, Peter Francisco, Esq., the Sergeant-at-Arms of the
House of Delegates and a Revolutionary soldier, celebrated for his undaunted courage and his brilliant
feats." The governor attended the funeral at the State Capitol, and Francisco was buried with full
military and Masonic honors in Shockoe Cemetery.
Virginia Historical Society | Online exhibitions | Search