116th leaders pay tribute to colonial-era militia heritage


Lt. Col. Rusty McGuire presents a wreath at the memorial service commemorating the Battle of Point Pleasant Oct. 9, 2016 at the Point Pleasant TuEndie-Wei State Park in West Virginia. (Courtesy Photo)

SANDSTON, Va. — Leaders from the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team paid tribute to their colonial-era militia heritage by presenting a wreath Oct. 9, 2016, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, honoring those who fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant in October 1774.

The 116th, also known as the Stonewall Brigade, traces it lineage back Nov. 3, 1741, when authorities in Augusta County organized their colonial militia into the Augusta County Regiment. According to Virginia National Guard historical records, the final role played by the Augusta Regiment as a colonial force was its participation in Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774, and they saw action at Point Pleasant which was part of Virginia at the time.

Point Pleasant was the main engagement of the brief conflict, and the experience gained on those battlefields helped militia forces prepare for the coming struggle against Great Britain.

According to the Tu-Endie-Wei State Park web site, Col. Andrew Lewis’ 1,100 Virginia militiamen decisively defeated a like number of Indians lead by the Shawnee Chieftain Cornstalk at Point Pleasant. Considered a landmark in frontier history, some believed the battle to be the first of the American Revolution, and it helped quell a general Indian war on the frontier.

Information on the site also indicted the victory prevented an alliance between the British and Indians, one which could very possibly have caused the Revolution to have a different outcome, altering the entire history of the U.S. In addition, the ensuing peace with the Indians enabled western Virginians to return across the Allegheny Mountains to aid Revolutionary forces.

“The patriots at Point Pleasant ignited a flame of liberty that they passed down to the Stonewall Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Rusty McGuire, former commander of the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT, in his remarks at the ceremony. “That same fire burned on June 6, 1944, when the 116th pierced fortress Europe on Omaha Beach. Heroes like Frank Peregoy and Carl “”Chubby” Proffitt carried on the legacy of Lewis, Shelby and Sevier.”