General Francis Nash

 

~ The Patriot ~

The chapter chose “General Francis Nash” as its name in honor of that great officer of the Revolution. Francis Nash was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in the year 1742. Before he reached maturity, his parents moved to North Carolina, and settled near New Bern.

At an early age, he became prominent as a North Carolina merchant, attorney, and justice of the peace; experiences which eventually led to a seat in the House of Commons in North Carolina.

In 1775, the Provincial Congress elected Nash Lieutenant Colonel of the First North Carolina Regiment, Continental Army. After taking part in the expedition to aid Charleston in 1776 and 1777, Nash (now in command of the North Carolina Brigade) marched north to join General George Washington’s Army.

Nash was regarded by Washington as a brave and valuable soldier. The governor of North Carolina described him as “the ablest North Carolina officer in the field.”

When the Revolutionary War broke out, Francis Nash immediately offered his services. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the First Regiment of North Carolina troops in the Continental Establishment. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Brigadier General and ordered to join the Grand Army in the North under General George Washington.

While in the North, Brigadier-General Nash commanded a bridge at the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, where, on October 4, 1777, he received a mortal wound. His thigh was shattered by a spent cannon ball and the same shot killed his aid, Major Witherspoon, son of Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, President of Princeton College.

In the 1783 Legislature of North Carolina assembled at Hillsboro they passed legislation to create and erect the County of Davidson in the Cumberland Settlement, naming it in honor of Colonel Davidson who was killed on the Catawba while trying to check the progress of the British in pursuit of General Morgan on his march from the Battle of Cowpens. This same legislature also established a town on the bluff and called it Nashborough (later Nashville), in honor of General Francis Nash, who fell at the head of his regiment at the Battle of Germantown.

SoJo-Germantown

“His career was a brief, but a brilliant one,” one historian wrote. “It is unquestionably true that there was no officer of the American Revolution who acquired in the same period a more solid reputation for soldierly qualities, or who died more universally regretted than he.” [1]

At his death, one of his friends described Nash as “One of the most enlightened, liberal and magnanimous gentlemen that ever sacrificed his life for his country.” [2]

Nash Marker

Marker near Francis Nash home in Hillsborough, North Carolina,
directs tourists to the home of the man for whom Nashville was named.

 

[1] Moffitt, Mrs. E. E. The North Carolina Booklet: Great Events in North Carolina History. 14. North Carolina Society, Daughters of the Revolution, 1914. 87.

[2] Broadwater, Robert P. American generals of the Revolutionary War: a biographical dictionary. McFarland & Co.: 2007. 97. Print.