Stewart, Walter

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Stewart, Walter

STEWART, WALTER. (1756–1796). Continental officer. Pennsylvania. At the start of the Revolution he raised a company for the Third Pennsylvania Battalion, was commissioned captain on 5 January 1776, became aide-de-camp to Gates on 26 May, and was promoted to major on 7 June 1776. Commissioned colonel of a Pennsylvania state regiment (militia) on 17 June 1777, he left Gates and assumed command on 6 July to take part in Washington's Philadelphia campaign. His green regiment distinguished itself at Brandywine, where as part of Weedon's brigade (with Edward Stevens's Tenth Virginia) it held a defile near Dilworth until the main army could make good its retreat. In the action at Germantown he fought on Washington's left wing. The next month, on 12 November 1777, his regiment joined the Continental army as the Thirteenth Pennsylvania. This unit was not with the army in the Valley Forge winter quarters but was part of Lee's command in the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778. Bringing up the rear of the retreat with Nathaniel Ramsey's Third Maryland, it was halted by Washington, faced about, and used as a delaying force until the main battle position was organized. On 1 July the regiment was merged with the Second Pennsylvania under Stewart's command.

Colonel Stewart has been described by Freeman as "an officer of fine presence and persuasive manner" (Freeman, vol. 5, p. 165). He was regarded as one of the handsomest men in the American army. The young colonel also appears to have been an outstanding mediator: he intervened to make peace between Gates and Wilkinson (in connection with the Conway Cabal) in February 1778; stepped in to help dissolve the mutiny of the Connecticut Line on 25 May 1780; and had a prominent part in helping Wayne settle the mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line on 1-10 January 1781. He marched south under Wayne to take part in Lafayette's operations against Cornwallis and was engaged at Green Spring, Virginia, on 6 July 1781. He served under Wayne in Steuben's division during the Yorktown campaign. Stewart retired on 1 January 1783 and went to Philadelphia. At the insistence of Washington, he was recalled as inspector general of the Northern Department. He agitated the discontent that led to the Newburgh Addresses. Breveted brigadier general on 30 September 1783, he became a prominent merchant in Philadelphia and major general of militia.

SEE ALSO Green Spring (Jamestown Ford, Virginia); Mutiny of the Connecticut Line; Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line; Newburgh Addresses; Virginia, Military Operations in; Virginia, Military Operations in; Yorktown Campaign.


Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington. Vols 4-5. New York: Scribner, 1951–1952.

Stillé, Charles J. Major General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line in the Continental Army. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1968.

Trussell, John B. B. The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776–1783. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977.

Wildes, Harry E. Anthony Wayne: Troubleshooter of the American Revolution. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990.

                              revised by Harry M. Ward