Francis Kinloch Huger
Colonel Dr. Francis Kinloch Huger (September 17, 1773 – February 14, 1855), a trained physician and artillery officer, was a scion of the Huger family of South Carolina. A member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and South Carolina Senate, he is best known for his leadership of a failed November 1794 attempt to rescue Lafayette from captivity during the wars surrounding the French Revolution.
Huger was born in Charleston. His father, Benjamin Huger (1746-1779), entertained the Marquis de Lafayette on the French officer's arrival in North America. Then a small boy, Francis became an intense admirer of Lafayette and followed his career closely as the statesman rose to lead his country during the early years of the French Revolution. Hard times came for Lafayette, though, and as a refugee from his native land he was taken prisoner by the empire of Austria.
Meanwhile Francis Huger was studying medicine in Vienna. Learning that Lafayette was a prisoner of war at the fortress of Olmutz near Olomouc in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), young Huger determined to rescue the international leader in 1794. A private plot, involving letters written in invisible ink, was hatched to liberate Lafayette. The caper was implemented on November 4, 1794. Although Lafayette was briefly liberated, he was disoriented and recaptured several days later by his enemies. The attempt failed and Huger was himself taken prisoner and joined his would-be prize in Olmutz. After eight months of solitary confinement as a security threat to Austria, Huger was paroled on condition that he return to the United States. Back in South Carolina, the physician studied artillery engineering. He was commissioned as a colonel of artillery during the War of 1812.
Col. Huger married Harriet Pinckney Huger, the daughter of South Carolina Gov. Thomas Pinckney. The couple had five children, including Benjamin Huger (1805-1877), the Confederate general. Col. Huger was briefly reunited with Lafayette in 1825 when the now-aged French statesman paid an extensive visit to the United States.
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