Francisco was found abandoned on the docks of Hopewell, Virginia, in 1765, aged about five. He could speak no English and after a week he was taken in by the wealthy judge Anthony Wilson, an uncle of Patrick Henry. He stayed in Wilson's care as ward and later blacksmith until he enlisted in the Continental Army aged 15.
He was 6'6" (1.98m) tall and weighed 260 pounds (117kg), and had a brilliant career in the war. Stories told of him include carrying a half-ton (450kg) cannon unaided at the Battle of Camden, and killing eleven Redcoats with a five-foot (1.52m) broadsword at the Battle of Guilford Court House.
After the war he became wealthy and was appointed sergeant-at-arms of the Virginia House of Delegates. There is a monument to him at Greensboro, North Carolina, and 15 March is Peter Francisco day in several states. There is a Peter Francisco Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the US Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in his honor in 1975.
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