Stephen Moylan (1737 – April 11, 1811) was an Irish American patriot leader during the American Revolutionary War. He had several positions in the Continental Army including Muster-Master General, Secretary and Aide to General George Washington, 2nd Quartermaster General, Commander of The Fourth Continental Light Dragoons and Commander of the Cavalry of the Continental Army.
In January 1776, he wrote a letter using the term "United States of America", the earliest known use of that phrase.
Stephen Moylan was born to a prominent Catholic family in Cork, Ireland. His family sent him to be educated in Paris. Moylan then worked in Lisbon for three years in the family shipping firm. He settled in Philadelphia in 1768 to organize his own shipping firm. He was one of the organizers of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, an Irish-American fraternal organization, and served as its first president.
Moylan joined the American Continental Army in 1775 and was appointed Muster-Master General on August 11, 1775. Although his experience in the shipping industry afforded the United States a well qualified ship outfitter, who would help fit out the first ships of the Continental Navy. On March 5, 1776, he became secretary to General George Washington. He was promoted to Colonel and was appointed Quartermaster General in the American Continental Army on June 5, 1776. He resigned from this office on September 28, 1776. However, he continued to serve as a volunteer of General Washington's staff through December of 1776.
Moylan was appointed to command the 4th Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Moylan's Horse, on January 3, 1777, at Philadelphia. The regiment would be noted for taking the field in captured British Red Coats. However, they would see action in green coats at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, and the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777, and end the year by protecting the Cantonment at Valley Forge. Col. Moylan succeeded General Pulaski as Commander of the Cavalry in March 1778. Moylan's Horse would see action at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778.
In the campaign of 1779 Col. Moylan and the 4th Dragoons would be stationed at Pound Ridge, New York, and see action when the British raided Norwalk, Connecticut, on July 11, 1779. Col. Moylan and the 4th Dragoons took part in the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey, on June 23, 1780, and General Anthony Wayne's expedition at Bull's Ferry, New Jersey, on July 20, 1780. Col. Moylan commanded his Dragoons at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781, after which he was to take the cavalry to the Southern Campaign. However, his failing health caused him to leave the field and return to Philadelphia, where he constantly appealed to the Continental Congress to man, equip and maintain the Continental Dragoon Regiments.
He was rewarded for his service by being breveted to brigadier general on November 3, 1783.
Later life and family
Moylan was married to Miss Mary Ricketts Van Horne on September 12, 1778, and had two daughters, Elizabeth Catherine, and Maria. His two sons died as children. Stephen Moylan died in Philadelphia, April 11, 1811, and is buried there in St. Mary's Churchyard.
- "Who Coined the Phrase ‘United States of America’? You May Never Guess". New York Historical Society.