In 1775, General George Washington issued a call for “Virginia Volunteer Riflemen.” Gathering Continental troops in preparation for the Revolutionary War, General Washington called upon the men of the mountains stating, “Let me plant my banner in West Augusta (West Virginia) and I will surround it with fighting men who will drive the invaders from our lands.” Captain Hugh Stephenson filled the ranks of his company in Shepherdstown. On 16 July 1775 Captain Stephenson, along with his company of mountaineers departed Morgan Springs. The company accomplished the famous 600 mile “Beeline March to Cambridge” in just twenty-four days. Captain Stephenson’s Company of Virginia Riflemen became part of the First Virginia Regiment, American Continental Troops. On 14 June 1775. “The American Continental Army” was formed. Of the companies that formed the Army that day, only the 1st Battalion, 201st FA, WVARNG remains active.
The Battle of Point Pleasant
On 10 October 1774 General Andrew Lewis was the commanding officer of the left wing of Lord Dunmore’s Army. The left wing was ordered by Dunmore to go to Point Pleasant and to defeat Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. Point Pleasant is located at the mouth of the Kanawha River where it flows into the mighty Ohio. The Battle of Point Pleasant is known as the “First Battle of the Revolution.” General Andrew Lewis’ brother, Colonel Charles Lewis led 1250 Virginia Riflemen which defeated the federated Indian tribes that were led by Chief Corn Stalk. Colonel Lewis and 75 other Virginians were killed in action on this day.
In nearly four centuries, American militiamen have transformed themselves from a loose collection of local defense forces to a modern and ready U.S. National Guard that is perhaps the best reserve force in the world. From the musket, powder horn and belt axe, to the most modern implements of warfare, our citizen soldiers and airmen have always performed exemplary, with selfless service for our communities and country.