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Captain Hugh Stephenson quickly assembled his company of riflemen at Shepherdstown. Speed in preparation was essential; armed resistance against the British had erupted in April of 1775. The Continental Congress had called for the creation of ten companies of riflemen in order to bolster newly appointed Commander George Washington’s forces in Massachusetts on June 14. Two of the ten companies were to be raised in Virginia, one by Stephenson and the other by Daniel Morgan at Winchester. The two commanders had agreed to meet at Frederick, MD and march together, however a competition developed and Morgan and his men left Frederick before Stephenson’s company arrived. The race was on as Stephenson’s men attempted to catch and pass Morgan, the Shepherdstown’s men and their feat became known as the Bee-Line March to Cambridge.

  • Spring House at Morgan's Grove, all that remains of William A. Morgan's home. The property was the starting point for Captain Hugh Stephenson's regiments 600 mile march to Cambridge.
  • Daniel Morgan
  • Painting representing the Beeline March

     During the last half of the eighteenth century, British actions relating to the frontier region of their North American Colonies fostered the development of a collective American identity within those colonies. At the outset of the French and Indian War, colonial assemblies were asked to supply troops for the defense of the Empire. An Empire that was in part represented by their sister colonies. British commanders rejected colonial advice regarding the development of Native allies and dismissed Native overtures toward assistance against the French.1 British officials came to dismiss colonial participation in the effort, concerning not only the global war but also the North American theater. For many colonists the wars outcome was troubling. Colonists who, considered themselves Englishmen, assisted the Empire in acquiring great lands, lands to which the Crown restricted their access. The Proclamation Line of 1763 was not well received in the colonies. British leaders continued to provoke the anger of many colonists over the next 12 years. A serious of attempts failed to establish British tighter control of the colonies. To the colonies, British political reactions to the French and Indian War were an attempt to render them as subjects, not as citizens. Eventually these acts moved the various colonies to act together as a means to resist British efforts.2

     Many of the Virginian’s who answered Congress’ call to arms in June of 1775 had fought with Washington during the French and Indian War. They were independent minded and strongly resisted what they viewed a British efforts toward subjugation.3 Dressed in home-made frontier clothing, with buck tails tied to their hats, and moccasins on their feet these men were the symbols of the colonial frontier.4 Each man was out-fitted with a new long- rifle made by Shepherdstown gunsmiths , the Henry and Philip Sheetz.5

     When Stephenson learned that Morgan had moved on to New England ahead of him, Stephenson’s men began their incredible march. Leaving Shepherdstown on July 17th from their meeting point at Morgan’s Spring, these men covered 600 miles in 24 days arriving at Cambridge on Friday August 11, 1775. According to the journal of Henry Bedinger, George Washington and General Gates reviewed the company upon its arrival.6 Hugh Stephenson was promoted to rank of Colonel and died of an illness in of 1776. Command of the regiment was given to Colonel Rawlings. On November 16, 1776 the regiment was captured at Fort Washington. The unit, including Henry Bedinger, was imprisoned for nearly four years.7

1. Fred Anderson, “Crucible of War”, (New York: Vintage Books, 2000) p. 95 2. Eugene Irving McCormac, PhD, “Colonial Opposition to Imperial Authority During The French and Indian War”, (Berkley: The University Press, November 1911), pp 1, 95, Google Play, 3. “History of The Lower Shenandoah”, p 324, Google Play, 4. “Historic Shepherstown” Google Play, Accessed March 21, 2015, 5. Jim Surkamp, “Beeline March”,, Accessed February 27, 2015, 6. “Historic Shepherdstown” p. 101 7. W.T.R. Saffell, “Records of The Revolutionary War” (Baltimore, Charles C. Saffell, 1894), pp. 398-99, Google Play,