General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN

 


Cumberland Gap Patriot



Ralph Stewart


Ralph Stewart was born in Augusta county Va in the year 1752. In 1773 Stewart joined the Augusta  County Rangers, and participated in several Indian battles with the Shawnee over the next seven years. In 1774, Stewart participated in the battle of Point Pleasant where Andrew Lewis defeated Shawnee chief Cornstalk. the Treaty of Charlotte was signed by the Shawnee, in which they were forced to give up lands south of the Ohio river which consisted mostly of the present day state of Kentucky.
     After Point Pleasant, Stewart was sent to guard the settlements in the Tygart valley located in Randolph county West Virginia. The Shawnee had been attacking the valley on  a regular basis since 1758 when the first settlers arrived. Stewart was stationed there until December 1780, when most of the Virginia militia was pulled from the valley. In spring 1781, The Tygart valley Massacre occurred where the Shawnee destroyed every village between Elkins WV and Huttonsville WV, killing every settler or forcing them to flee the valley.
   In May, 1781, Stewart joined the 3000 man Militia under the command of the Marquis De Lafayette. In April, Lafayette had been sent to Virginia to contain Benedict Arnold who had now turned traitor,and was responsible for burning most of Richmond va to the ground in January 1781. On May 23, Lafayette was sent to Chesterfield VA to try and stop Tarleton, but arrived too late to stop the Tarleton from seizing arms and supplies located in the Chesterfield county courthouse. Over the next six weeks Lafayette would do battle with Tarleton In Va  at Bottom bridge( June 1), Charlottesville( June 4), Ground Squirrel( June 6), Hot water Bridge( July 26), Jamestown ( July6).
      At Jamestown( July6) Lafayette would meet the army of Cornwallis for the first time. Lafayette had been told only a rear guard attachment was located at Jamestown, but when he arrived, he found the main body of Cornwallis's army. Because of the size of the field, Cornwallis could only put 2000 Brirish troops on the field. Lafayette ordered Anthony Wayne to attack the British Wayne ordered  his 500 men to charge with bayonets. This is a tactic you normally wouldnt do unless you had reinforcements coming or a large reserve in the rear,neither of which Wayne had. Wayne was outflanked  and forced to retreat. Stewart and his company was responsible for making sure the retreat was successful.
      On August 1, 1781, Cornwallis arrived at Yorktown. When Lafayette had heard Cornwallis was at Yorktown, he informed Washington of Cornwallis's location. Washington ordered Lafayete to contain Cornwallis until he got there. In September 1781, Cornwallis decided he wanted to go to Charleston, but soon found he couldnt because Lafayette had all the roads blocked leaving Yorktown. On September 25, 1781, Lafayette joined forces with Washington upon his arrival at Yorktown. 
      The battle of Yorktown soon took place. During the battle Lafayette led his men including Stewart in an attack against a redoubt in which he was successful in taking. The British soon surrendered on October 15, 1781. In November 1781, Stewart was sent to guard the British prisoners taken at Yorktown at Winchester barracks located in Winchester Virginia.
 After the war, Stewart went back to Augusta where he died on November 17, 1835


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