June 10, 1775: Captain Hugh Stephenson Organizes Berkeley County Riflemen
On June 10, 1775, Captain Hugh Stephenson organized the Berkeley County Riflemen in response to George Washington’s call for soldiers at the start of the Revolutionary War. These were among the first soldiers from the South to volunteer following the outbreak of hostilities in Massachusetts. The men supplied their own uniforms, weapons, equipment, and food. They wore leather leggings and moccasins, deerskin caps, and homespun shirts made of a coarse cloth called linsey-woolsey.
After drilling for a month, the riflemen set out on horseback to relieve Boston. They made the 600-mile trek from Shepherdstown to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in just 24 days, a feat remembered as the “Bee Line March.” Stephenson led his company directly to George Washington, who personally shook each man’s hand. Washington even recognized some of them from the French and Indian War and his surveying work in the present Eastern Panhandle
Patriotic citizens of western Virginia would answer at least 10 calls for troops during the Revolutionary War.
In 1989, the Secretary of the Army designated Morgan’s Grove, a park located near the start of the march, as the birthplace of the United States Army.