Francis Kinloch Huger (1773 - 1855) MP

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Lt. Col. Francis Kinloch Huger, USA's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
Death: Died in Charleston, Charleston, South Carlolina, United States
Occupation: surgeon, legislator
Managed by: Elizabeth
Last Updated:

About Francis Kinloch Huger

Francis Kinloch Huger was the son of Benjamin Huger and wife Mary Esther Kinloch. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina on September 17, 1773. He married Harriott Lucas Pinckney. She was the daughter of Thomas Pinckney and wife Elizabeth Motte.

He studied medicine in Europe, becoming a surgeon and served for a short time on the medical staff of the English army in Flanders in 1794. While in Europe he became involved in a disastrous plot to rescue the Marquis de Lafayette (see below). He was imprisoned for eight months for his part in the plot. Upon his release, he returned to South Carolina and accepted a commission as Captain in the United States Army.

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Francis Kinloch Huger was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Second Artillery in December of 1812 and soon after acquired the post of Adjutant General. Francis would serve his nation throughout the full duration of the war. After the war he served in the state legislature.

Francis died on February 14, 1855 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. There is also a handsome commemorative plaque honoring Francis and his wife Harriott hanging at the French Protestant Huguenot Church in Charleston.

Children of Francis Kinloch Huger and wife Harriott Lucas Pinckney:

  • Elizabeth Pinckney Huger (1804 - 1882), who never married.
  • Benjamin Huger (1805 - 1877), Civil War Confederate Major General, married Celestine Pinckney.
  • Anna Isabella Huger (b. 1808), married Edward Harleston
  • Francis Huger (1811 - 1849), Lieutenant in United States Navy.
  • Thomas Pinckney Huger (1816 - 1875), Anna Maria Cheves
  • Cleland Kinloch Huger (1818 - 1892), married (1) Mary Augusta Dunkin (d.1865) and (2) Susan E. Alston Huger (1830 - 1880)

Francis Kinloch Huger and the failed attempt to rescue Lafayette

[From http://etd.lib.clemson.edu/documents/1211390439/umi-clemson-1644.pdf]

Lafayette’s stay with the Benjamin Huger family in South Carolina had a powerful impact on Benjamin’s youngest son, Francis Kinloch Huger. Francis, though very young, was so favorably impressed by the Marquis that he developed a deep respect for the General. This admiration would drive Francis to perform a reckless act of patriotism nearly two decades after this encounter. Disregarding his own safety, Francis joined in an abortive attempt to free Lafayette from an Austrian prison in 1794.

The Marquis de Lafayette had returned to France after the American Revolution as a hero. Shortly after his return, he found himself entangled in a new democratic uprising, the French Revolution. Lafayette initially supported the revolutionary cause, participating in the development of a constitution that would turn the absolutist Bourbon regime into a limited monarchy. But after the fall of the Bastille in July 1789 and the violence that followed, he found himself torn between his patriotism and uneasiness with the growing brutality of the French Revolution. The crisis reached a boiling point in 1792 after the deposition of Louis XVI, when the Legislative Assembly issued a decree of impeachment against Lafayette. The Marquis, unable to secure the support of his troops, fled to Prussia with hopes of returning to America.

  

Unfortunately, the Marquis de Lafayette was arrested and imprisoned before he could escape Prussia. In 1794, he was secretly transferred to the Austrian prison at Olmutz. The news of Lafayette’s imprisonment enraged the American public, who revered him as a hero of their war for independence. A group of Americans began an attempt to secure his release. When diplomatic measures failed, this group hired a German adventurer by the name of Erich Bollman to find out where the Marquis was being held and attempt a rescue. Bollman managed to locate Lafayette at Olmutz prison, and the two men exchanged letters with secret messages written in lemon juice through the prison doctor. By this exchange, they developed a plan to free the Marquis from captivity.

Francis Kinloch Huger, in Austria at this time studying medicine at the University of Vienna, met Erich Bollman at coffeehouse he frequented in his spare time. Through several conversations, Bollman discovered the close connection between the Marquis and the Huger family. In time, he revealed his plan to rescue Lafayette, and Francis quickly agreed to join in the attempt. On November 8, 1794, Lafayette’s coach left the gates of the prison, with Bollman and Huger following at a safe distance. When Lafayette and his guard had walked a good distance away from the coach, Francis Huger and Erich Bollman rushed upon them. The guard put up a fervent resistance, grabbing Lafayette by the throat and strangling him. Francis, a powerful and skilled fighter, subdued the guard and freed Lafayette from his grasp. Holding the guard to the ground, Francis entreated the Marquis to mount his horse and “go to Hoff,” a nearby town where Bollman and Huger planned to meet him. By this time, a group of people in a nearby field had noticed the altercation and informed the authorities. Francis never made it out of sight of the authorities and was captured not far away. Lafayette, unaware of the existence of the Town of Hoff, mistakenly thought Huger had instructed him simply to “go off.” Becoming anxious when the rescue party failed to meet him, he made his way to Brounseifen that evening, where his disheveled appearance and bloody clothes aroused suspicion. He met a man whom he thought trustworthy and asked him how to find the way to Neiss. The man quickly turned Lafayette over to authorities, and he was returned to Olmutz. Erich Bollman reached Hoff and waited for the arrival of his fellow conspirators. They never arrived, and Bollman was arrested and taken to Olmutz prison. Thus, their enterprise failed entirely.

  

Now imprisoned, Francis Kinloch Huger, shackled to the wall by large chains, languished in a dark dungeon. Provided with only a dry piece of bread and jug of water daily, the prisoner had no comforts to ease his suffering. Initially, as he was later told by one of the prison guards, he had been sentenced to death in a Tribunal. Francis had been unable to understand the proceeding of the trial since he did not speak German. However, after further inquiry into the case, he was moved into a more comfortable holding room, where he was better fed and allowed on occasion to take walks in a walled and highly guarded courtyard. Despite the complete failure of their attempt and the cruel treatment he initially received at Olmutz, Francis found positive aspects in the circumstances of the effort. He felt it best that the rescue had not been successful, “as perhaps at that age, he might have fancied himself a hero.” Furthermore, he believed that “the long solitary confinement made him more thoughtful and was an advantage to his character.

Francis Kinloch Huger’s conduct most certainly reveals that he possessed a strong sense of American identity. If he had still held a strong attachment to his French origin, perhaps he would have hesitated in attempting to free a man who had been deemed an enemy of the French state. Yet Francis held no qualms about assisting the man who had fought bravely for America’s freedom. His disregard for the official opinion of the French government toward Lafayette and personal view of him as a hero provides a powerful example of the Huger family’s participation in the American identity. Francis’s reasoning for joining the rescue attempt reveals his place within the American identity. He saw the opportunity “of doing a service to the man who had done so much for the liberation of my country, who had helped it to win the independence I enjoy at home.”

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Lt. Col. Francis Kinloch Huger, USA's Timeline

1773
September 17, 1773
Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
1798
1798
- 1812
Age 24
United States Army
1802
January 14, 1802
Age 28
1804
1804
Age 30
1805
1805
Age 31
1808
1808
Age 34
1811
1811
Age 37
1812
December 1812
- 1813
Age 39
War of 1812
1813
1813
- 1814
Age 39
War of 1812
1816
1816
Age 42
South Carolina