Thursday, December 13, 2012

General Edward Stevens

General Edward Stevens - G-10 in Culpeper County, VACulpeper County, VA
Marker No. G-10

Marker Text: Here is buried General Edward Stevens, who served at Brandywine, Camden, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown. He died on August 17, 1820.

Location: On Route 229 at northern entrance to Culpeper in front of the Masonic Cemetery. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1927.

  At first glance, you might wonder why I would be including today's marker among my “Jack Jouett” series of historical markers. The simple text of this marker erected in 1927, which is among the group of earliest markers erected in Virginia tells you nothing about Jack Jouett, but Edward Stevens owes a great deal to Jouett.

General Edward Stevens - G-10 on Route 229 north of Culpeper, VA (Click any photo to enlarge)

Photo taken looking north on Route 229. Culpeper Co. School in the background. Click any photo to enlarge.

  Edward Stevens was born in Culpeper County, Virginia and joined the colonial forces fighting England early during the American Revolution. In December 1775, Stevens commanded a battalion of Virginia militia at the Battle of Great Bridge. The battle, a victory for the Americans, prevented then Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, from retaking the state for England.

  Edwards did not remain in the Virginia militia. He was commissioned a colonel in the 10th Virginia Regiment in Continental Army in November 1776. Edwards and his regiment fought at the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. He served less than two years in the American army, resigning in January 1778. Edwards did continue to serve Virginia. He was appointed brigadier general of the Virginia militia in 1779.

  His first major action as brigadier general of militia occurred when he took 700 men to join General Horatio Gate's army in the south. As a member of this army, the militia fought in the disastrous battle at Camden where, by all accounts, they did not fight well. Stevens remained with the army and eventually joined it's new commander, Nathanael Greene, in the retreat to the Dan River.

  Stevens next commanded his militia at the Battle of Guilford Court House in North Carolina on March 15, 1781. During the battle Stevens was wounded in the thigh. Stevens temporarily returned home and this is where Jack Jouett enters Stevens life. (link to monument where Stevens was wounded)

  Along with being a brigadier general of militia, Stevens was also a Senator in the Virginia State Legislature. He was recovering from his wound and joined the state legislature in Charlottesville where they were in session and fulfilled his role as a Senator.

  Stevens along with other state legislators where staying at the Swan Tavern in Charlottesville when Jack Jouett came to the tavern to warn others after leaving Monticello. Jack Jouett displayed more heroics and helped General Edward Stevens escape. Jouett rode with Gen. Stevens as he made his escape, but the wounded Stevens could not ride fast enough to keep the British from catching up. Fortunately, Jouett had the eccentric habit of dressing in ornate military costume and Stevens was dressed in shoddy clothing. British cavalry assumed that Jouett, dressed in a scarlet coat and wearing a plumed hat, must be a high military officer, so they ignored the shabby Stevens and chased Jouett, who successfully eluded them thereby helping Stevens avoid capture.

General Edward Stevens - G-10 near entrance to Masonic Cemetery, Culpeper, VA

Photo taken looking south on Route 229.  Entrance to the Masonic Cemetery where Stevens is buried is in the background.

  Following his escape from Charlottesville with the help of Jouett, Stevens eventually rose to become major general in the Virginia militia. Stevens later recovered from his wound in time to command a brigade of 750 militia men at the Siege of Yorktown, later in the year.

  The 1852 book Pictorial Fieldbook of the Revolution by Benson J. Lossing quotes General Edward Stevens epitaph on his grave marker: “This gallant officer and upright man served his country with reputation in the field and Senate of his native state. He took an active part and had a principal share in the war of the Revolution, and acquired great distinction at the battles of Great Bridge, Brandywine, Germantown, Camden, Guilford, and the siege of York; and although zealous in the cause of American freedom, his conduct was not marked with the least degree of malevolence or party spirit. Those who honestly differed with him in opinion he always treated with singular tenderness. In strictly his integrity, honest patriotism, and immovable courage, he was surpassed by one, and had few equals.”

  General Edward Stevens died on August 17, 1820 and is buried in the cemetery located west of this marker. I attempted to find his grave, but did not have enough time to find and photograph his grave site.

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