|Sybil Ludington Statue|
|Frontispiece of The Female Review: Life of Deborah|
Sampson, the Female Soldier in the War of Revolution
|Detail of Battle of Germantown by Christian Schussele|
Two other women are known to have fought in the Revolution. Sally St. Clare was a Creole girl who lost her life in the war. Another known only as “Samuel Gay,” was discovered to be a woman and discharged. It’s likely others also served in the army as men but were never detected.
|Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth,|
engraving by J.C. Armytage, c. 1859
|Corbin Memorial, West Point Cemetery,|
United States Military Academy
Women also served as spies during the Revolution. A laundress at British headquarters in Philadelphia alerted Washington to British General Henry Clinton’s withdrawal from the city, and many others served in the shadows, like Lydia Darragh. British officers occupying her house in Philadelphia used a large upstairs room for their secret conferences. Lydia would slip into an adjoining closet and take notes on their plans, and after her husband transcribed the intelligence in a form of shorthand on tiny slips of paper, she enclosed them in fabric-covered buttons, which she sewed onto the coat of her fourteen-year-old son, John. When he visited his elder brother, Lieutenant Charles Darragh, serving with the Continental Army outside the city, Charles would snip off the buttons, write out the notes, and send them to his superior. Lydia also supposedly concealed other intelligence in a sewing-needle packet she carried in her purse when passing through British lines.
|Major John André|
Yet other women followed Washington's army for safety and subsistence. Many provided services such as cooking, washing and mending clothing, and nursing, and consequently received rations and sometimes pay. In my next post, we’ll take a look at the life of camp followers.
How many of these women have you heard of? Which one do you find most interesting or appealing?
~~~J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is also an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Book 6, Refiner’s Fire, releases in April 2019. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, received the 2017 Interviews and Reviews Silver Award for Historical Fiction and was named one of Shelf Unbound’s 2018 Notable Indie Books. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist in the Carol Award.