Thy Spirit, Independence let me share,
Lord of the Lion Heart, and Eagle Eye,
Thy steps I follow, with my bossom bare,
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.[i]
From a patriotic song, 1775
They were ready to move out and join General Washington at siege of Boston. On June 10 the riflemen gathered for a barbeque given them by their friends and neighbors at Stephenson’s Spring. When they were about to disperse someone proposed that they should rise, and join hands in a pledge to meet again on that same spot, as many as should survive, on that day in fifty years. On 17th of June 1775 they set out making a “bee-line to Boston”, a long and hazardous journey of 600 miles through sparsely populated country.
Here is continued the letter from Henry Bedinger to the son of Samuel Finley: “Captain Morgan met with equal success at Winchester and raised a most noble Company. His Company was also detained for want of arms. When these obstacles were removed it was agreed together that Stephenson, who was the senior officer should cross the Potomac River at Shepherdstown and Morgan at Harpers Ferry, meet at Frederick town proceed together to Headquarters at Cambridge. Morgan however crossed the day before us on the 15th July did not stop or wait for us at Frederick, but continued with every possible speed to Cambridge. Morgan having the start, we used every exertion to overhaul him in vain. Although we marched (always in single file) from 30 to 36 miles a number of days, -- the weather being excessively warm and the distance very little short of 600 miles, a pretty trying scene to young men who had never experienced such persevering fatigue. Ninety-eight of our Company arrived at Camp on the 9th August. One of our men was accidentally wounded in the leg by a wad and another sick, both were left on the way.”
Henry Bedinger kept a journal each day of the march to Boston.[ii] When they reached the Conewago Valley in Pennsylvania the company refreshed themselves at a tavern while the Bedinger brothers dined with their uncle, Nicholas Bietinger, their late father’s elder brother, and his wife Maria. Nicholas was busy raising and equipping at his own expense a volunteer military company which he would command as captain.[iii]
Upon reaching headquarters of the army at Cambridge, Captain Stevenson’s company was reviewed by General Washington. George Michael Bedinger recalled his first encounter with the Commander-in-Chief: “It was near Cambridge College that our outfit first saw him and presented their arms to him as he slowly rode by us looking attentively and affectionately at the soldiers from his native state. When he shook hands with our captain, it was said they both shed tears”[iv]
The rifle companies from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania swelled the Continental forces at Cambridge by 1400 men—described by Washington Irving in his “Life of Washington” as stalwart fellows, hunters and bush fighters; many of them upwards of six feet high, and of vigorous frames; dressed in fringed frocks, or rifle shirts and round hats. Their displays of sharpshooting were soon among the marvels of the camp. Henry Bedinger was considerably over six feet in height, sinewy and vigorous, straight as an Indian, with a swarthy complexion, dark brown hair, and piercing gray eyes. His brother George Michael, is described as not “inordinately tall” with a fair complexion, dark hair and blue eyes.
[i] This refrain found among the papers of George Michael Bedinger in the Draper manuscript collection, presumably written by George Michael Bedinger
[ii] Dandridge, Danske, 1910, Historic Shepherdstown, The Michie Company, Printers, Charlottesville, Virginia, 389 p., p. 97-104.
[iii] Levin, Alexandra Lee, 1995, For A Brave America the Bedinger Brothers in War and Peace, 1775-1843, Shamrock Hollow, John Day, Oregon, 215 p., p. 6.
[iv] From Bedinger and Dandridge Collection, Duke University and Lyman Draper, George Michael Bedinger papers quoted in Levin, Alexandra Lee, 1995, For A Brave America the Bedinger Brothers in War and Peace, 1775-1843, Shamrock Hollow, John Day, Oregon, 215 p., p. 10.
Continued: Go to Siege of Boston