Adam Stephen

Best source

Table of Contents


Stephen. Adam Stephen. (Born 1724—died 1791). Educated in medicine at Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. He practiced medicine and surgery in Frederick, MD.

As a captain, Stephen is sometimes referenced as second-in-command at Fort Necessity—as are George Mercer and George Muse. Captain Stephen was with George Washington and Tanagharison at Jumonville Glen when the provincials attacked the French detachment in the early morning hours. After the death of Colonel Joshua Fry, Stephen was promoted to major at the same time Washington was promoted to full colonel.

Stephen led a force of Virginia provincials at the Battle of the Monongahela in what may have been one of the few effective ”firing from cover” maneuvers. Stephen survived the attack and later noted to Virginia authorities that Pennsylvania traders were dealing with Indians in Virginia’s western territory (without licenses or permission). From 1756 forward Lieutenant Colonel Stephen was on the frontier (Fort Cumberland, Fort Loudon and other) and Stephen was second in command to Washington in frontier defenses of VA in 1763.

In September 1776 he was made a brigadier general and fought in the battle at Trenton and was promoted to major general in February 1777 and led a column at Brandywine where he was a hero. At Germantown he led forces against General Anthony Wayne in a friendly fire debacle that was determined to have been his fault. His later overindulgence of alcohol caused Washington to relieve him of his command.


1748 - 1753 - Falmouth-Fredericksburg, VA - With brother, Alexander, a rent collector for the very wealthy Fairfax family in Winchester, Va.

1753 - Opequon, Frederick, County, VA - Buys 2,000 acres of land and buys forty steers.

1754 -
(This account by General Adam Stephen of the Ohio Campaign of 1754 has lately come to light among the papers of Dr. Benjamin Rush, (and) now is in the possession of the Library Company of Philadelphia, to the directors of which institution my thanks are due for permission to publish it. The manuscript is endorsed, in the handwriting of Dr. Rush, "Col Stevens's life written by himself for B. Rush in 1775." Peculiarities of spelling, etc. of the original are here retained. A sketch of General Stephen may be found in the Journal of Colonel Washington," edited by J.M. Toner, Albany, 1833, p. 27-Bunford Samuel.)

After wandering for a certain period; Natural to the Young — Curious—Stephen came to America and Settled in Virginia, made himself known by making an incision into the Liver of Mrs. Mercer of Stafford County, cleansing and healing the Ulcers there, Contrary to the Opinion of all the faculty employ'd to cure the Lady - by performing the Operation for the Aneurism, on Abraham Hill - restoring him the Use of his Arm — hand.

Col. Fairfax was a particular friend in those days to Mr. Washington the present Commander of the American forces; the Colonel conceiv'd a favorable Opinion of Stephen from the distinct Acct. he gave of the Port l'Orient Expedition; and in a manner forc'd him to Enter the Service in the year '54.

One Col. Fry was Appointed to Command the Expedition, Washngton was Appointed Lt. Col., a Certain Mr. Muse was made Major; and Stephen was appointed first Captain. The various fortune so frequent on this Globe in the Course of the campaign, Consituted Mr. Washington Commander in Chief, — Stephen Second in Command. In which Situation they Continued to the end of the Campaign of '58, when Col. Washington Resign'd.

4/1754 - Winchester, VA - Adam Stephen and his 39 recruits join GW, Peter Hog's and Jacob Van Braam's companies and head west to reinforce English fort at the junction of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

4/23/1754 - Fort at Wills Creek (at site of future Cumberland) encampment - War council held, with French reinforcing Fort Duquesne not far away.

5/11/1754 - Near Christopher Gist's plantation in the Monongahela Valley - AS and some men are an advance party to "apprehend" any French in the area from Fort Duquesne.

5/20/1754 (approx.) - Mouth of Redstone Creek - AS selects fort site. AS receives a report from a paid spy of number of French at Fort Duquesne, 37 miles away, with the fort's description,.

5/23/1754 - Great Crossing on the Youghiogheny River encampment - AS joins GW. AS also leads written protest for better pay to Va. Governor Dinwiddie.

5/25/1754- Great Crossing - GW and AS learned that enemy French were six miles away.

5/28/1754 - Laurel Hill (Ridge), five miles from Great Crossing and sixty miles southeast of Fort Duquesne - At sunrise, GW, AS, and Seneca Chief Half-King lead forty men in surprise attack of a French encampment. Ten are killed, 23 taken prisoner. Their commander, Joseph Coulon de Villiers, is killed, scalped, and his brains handled by Half-King,outraging France.

6/8-9/1754 - Great Meadows - GW promotes AS to major. Fort Necessity is built to fight expected French troops.
6/1754 - Gist's plantation encampment

7/3/1754 - Fort Necessity - GW's 400 men face 900 French and Indian attackers.Fired upon from high ground, short of supplies, and with half their men drunk by nightfall. GW surrenders for his men.

7/1754 - Fort Cumberland - Retreating army builds it. AS remains there with men.

12/12/1754 - Fort Cumberland - AS is promoted to full colonel, and made commander of the fort. (He had been promoted to lieutenant colonel already). GW's resignation from army sparks some rivalry with AS.

1/1755 - Alexandria, VA - AS recruits and takes care of his business affairs.

2/1755 - Winchester, VA - AS recruits 800 new men, 1200 below the desired amount.

2/1755 - Va. Governor Dinwiddie successfully requests troops from England. Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock arrives in Virginia with 44th and 48th British regiments.

3/1755 - Alexandria, VA - AS joins Braddock's regiments.

5/10/1755 - Fort Cumberland - Braddock's troops arrive. AS's company becomes part of Braddock's second brigade.

5/30/1755 - Braddock's 1,736 soldiers, 200 wagons, and 500 pack horse leave Fort Cumberland, heading for Fort Duquesne.

6/1755 - Little Meadows - AS' men are among 400 troops who form a convoy escort for supplies.

6/1755-7/5/1755 - Little Meadows to Great Crossing - AS delivers 100, flour-loaded packhorses and 100 head of beef to the main army.

7/6/1755 (afternoon) - Within ten miles of Fort Duquesne - 70 per cent of Gen. Braddock's force is killed or wounded, including Braddock under fire from a smaller force, hidden in the woods along a narrow road his army was using. AS, slightly wounded and witnessing the event, blamed the British for panic and for not fighting like the Indians and Canadians. His letter is read eventually by the British Prime Minister, the duke of Newcastle.

Read Adam Stephens' published account of the battle.

7/20/1755 - Fort Cumberland - Retreating army rests, the wounded looking "more like Spirits than men and their wounds alive with Maggots."


Alcoholism. Rivalry with Washington.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License