James was born July 2, 1757 in Hampstead, New Hamshire. His father, Archelaus, was born on Gloucester, Massachusetts, and probably moved his family to Hamstead. Later they moved to Enfield, New Hampshire .
On December 7, 1780, James married Apphia Hoyt in Enfield, New Hampshire. They had seven children.
James served in the Revolutionary War three times under Captain Jacob Hutchins. The first time was in June and July 1775 as a substiture for his brother Asa during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
In 1775 British General Howe had a secret plan to move against the Americans on the morning of Sunday, June 18th. The plan was to land from Boston Harbor at Roxbury. The Americans found out about this and planned their defense.
The Americans decided to setup at pastures near Charlestown. These pastures are now known as Morton's, Breed's and Bunker Hill. Breed's Hill was closer to the water so that when the cannon was shot it had a good chance of reaching the British ships in the harbor. It also had a steeper slope than Bunker Hill and a circular top. On the late evening of Friday June 16th, an earth fort and other defenses were constructed on the summit of Breed's Hill. By the next day the defenses built would stretch from Charlestown Village on the west to the shore of the Mystic River on the east. They would completly cut off access to the peninusla preventing any movement leading to the mainland.
On the next morning, Saturday, June 17th, the British saw the fort on Breed's Hill and began firing. The Americans were still building the fort. Breastworks (temporary fortifications created from earthwork thrown up to breast height to provide protection to defenders firing over it from a standing positison) were still being constructed as well as firing platforms for the cannons.
The only place the British could come ashore was near the Charlestown. The rest of the penisula would require the British to wade ashore where they would be exposed to firing from the land. The top of Charlestown peninsula allowed the British to land unopposed and had a place where the ship's cannon could be controlled from the harbor. High tide was at 2 PM and that allowed the ships to get closer to shore.
Captian Hutchins' men were at Lechmere Point Friday night and joined forces behind the breastworks at Breed's Hill Saturday afternoon shortly after 2 PM. Lechmere point was one of two landing places thought to be used by the British to land.
The British advanced toward the fort. Once they were close enought the Americans starting firing. Since the Americans did not have much amunition they were told "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
The British decided to regroup after the first round of fire. The second charge by the British was also turned back. British General Howe ordered one more charge.
The British could now fire their cannon to shoot behind the breastworks. As the British army approached the breastworks, the Americans headed for the fort. At this time there were no reinforcements arriving and not much powder or shot was left. Once the amunition was exhausted hand to hand fighting took place. The British had bayonets which put the Americans at a disadvantage.
The Americans retreated from Breed's Hill to Bunker Hill. The Americans had also tried to build a fort at Bunker Hill but there was not enough time to complete it. At this time there was no one in charge on the American side to give direction and lead the soldiers into battle so many tried to stay safe. Two other regiments came to help those on Bunker Hill. These men arrived too late to save the defense lines but they allowed everyone to get to the top of Bunker Hill and then continue moving down the hill and across Charlestown Neck to the mainland. The British were able to bring their artillery to the top ov Bunker Hill and force the Americans to retreat to the mainland.
By five in the afternoon the Battle of Bunker Hill was over. The Americans had been able to force the British to attach under conditions favorable to the Americans. Over one third of the British officers who took part in the battle were casulaties and many more wounded.
After the battle Captain Hutchins men were orderd to start fortifing Prospect Hill which controlled Cambridge road in case the British decided to continue their pursuit. The British soldiers were exhausted at this point and they decided not to continue fighting.
The Americans at Bunker Hill wore their own clothes and carreid their own weapons that would have been in their families for years. They fought against professional British soldiers who wore uniforms and were supplied with weapons. The British may have won the Battle of Bunker Hill but the Americans inflicted significant casulties against the British and they gained confidence.
Plan of the Battle of Bunker Hill
James Stevens next served under Captain Hutchins again in April 1776. For seven months he was stationed at Winter Hill which is located near Bunker Hill. This fortification was used to guard against attack by the British army.
James Steven served for the third time in August 1777. During this time he was part of the Battle of Bennington. The British army learned that they could get supplies in Bennington, Vermont. They planned to raid the town for the supplies.
The actual battle took place ten miles from Bennington in Walloomasac, New York. The battle lasted until nightfall when the darkness made it impossible to fight.
The battle was a major success for the Americans and it is considered a turning point of the Revolutionary War. The British army was reduced in size by almost 1,000 men. The Native Americans largely abandoned the British and the battle deprived the British army of much-needed supplies.
James Stevens can be found in the 1840 census living in Enfield, New Hampshire. He is 83 years old and a veteran. Living with him is a woman who is 79 years old. His wife Apphia would be 79 in 1840. James and Apphia probably died sometime in the 1840s since they are not found in the 1850 census..
1840 United States Federal Census, Census Place: Enfield, Grafton, New Hampshire; Roll: 237; Page: 188; Family History Library Film: 0014931.
The Bunker Hill Times, Saturday, April 12, 1879, Boston, Massachusetts, Vol 27. No. 23. page 4.
Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 - ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 - ca. 1900, NARA, publication number M804, national archives catalog ID 300022, record group 15, state New Hampshire, James Stevens, pension number S. 18, 128.
Enfield, NH: Vital Records, 1761 - 1940, compiled by George McKenzie Roberts in 1957, database americanancestors.org, accessed 2011, page 686.
Hammond, Priscilla. Vital Records of Hamstead, New Hampshire. Concord, NH, 1938, page 54.
Hutchins, Jack Randolph, The Story of Jacob Hutchins of Athol, Massachusetts, Revolutionary Soldier and Accounts of Other Hutchins Who Served in teh Revolutionary War, Washington, D.C., Goetz Press, 1976, https://archive.org/details/storyofjacobhutc00hutc