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Captain William Leslie of the British 17th Regiment of Foot, shown in this portrait with Edinburgh Castle looming in the background, lost his life at the Battle of Princeton, New Jersey, on January 3, 1777. The son of a Scottish nobleman, Leslie purchased an officer’s commission in the 17th Regiment in 1773 and shipped off to America two years later. He fought during the New York campaign of 1776 and wrote home to his mother reflecting upon how the Revolutionary War seemed to be tearing America apart: “the Desolation that this unhappy Country has suffered must distress every feeling heart.” At the Battle of Princeton, Leslie led the troops under his command against General George Washington’s attacking army. Leslie was shot twice in the fray and died soon after at the age of 26. After the Continental Army captured the wagon that carried his corpse, the American troops buried Leslie’s body in Pluckemin, New Jersey. Philadelphia’s Dr. Benjamin Rush, a staunch Revolutionary and Leslie’s long-time friend who had studied medicine in Scotland, mourned over the officer’s death and paid for a headstone to be placed on Leslie’s grave after the war.

Artwork Details

  • Captain William Leslie
    Painted by a Follower of David Martin
    Great Britain
    Oil on canvas
    Museum of the American Revolution


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