March 11 - Today's post contributed by Susan Casey
Women participated in almost every aspect of the American Revolution. The war came to them. Battles took place in cities, on farms, outside homes. Women aided the cause as spies, soldiers, saboteurs, rescuers and more.
|Sybil Ludington photo = Courtesy of Susan Casey|
Take the story of Prudence Wright who lived in Pepperrell, Massachusetts, only 45 miles away from the conflicts in Lexington and Concord that sparked the revolution. She and other women in town had bid goodbye to their husbands, sons, and brothers who had left to join the fight. While they waited to hear of the events, Prudence overheard a conversation about couriers carrying messages to the British in Boston and that they would be traveling past her town on their way. She’d heard enough. She mustered the women of Pepperrell who grabbed muskets, pitchforks, whatever they could use as a weapon. The women hid by the side of a road at the foot of a nearby bridge, surprised and dismounted the couriers when they passed, seized the messages, sadly discovered that one of the men was Prudence’s own brother, then delivered them to the authorities.
|Prudence Wright monument - Courtesy of the Pepperell Historical Commission|
Elizabeth Burgin's story is an example of a dramatic tale gleaned from sketchy information related in only three letters--an account told in correspondence. Two of the letters are from her and one is from George Washington. She wrote that she helped 200 American prisoners escape from prison ships in New York and that she was on the run herself after the British offered a reward for her capture. Washington commended her in his letter, writing that she had been "indefatigable for the relief of prisoners" while asking for aid for her. Snippets that whet one's appetite for more.
Some stories are well documented and from a variety of sources. Sixteen-year-old Betty Zane volunteered to run across a battlefield to retrieve much needed gunpowder for settlers fighting the British and their Native American allies who were attacking Fort Henry in one of the last battles of the war. She ran the hundred yards to a cabin where the ammunition was kept and the attackers just watched. However, on her return trip they must have realized her mission. Shots flew but she dodged them and safely slid back inside the gates of the fort, gunpowder in hand.
|Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane - Library of Congress LC-USZ62-2335|
|Esther Reed Sarah Franklin Bache - The drawing appeared in Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution by Benson John Lossing, published in 1860|
|Sarah Franklin Bache - The drawing appeared in Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution by Benson John Lossing, published in 1860.|
|Martha Bratton from The Story of a Great Nation, 1888; courtesy of Historical Center of York County, Culture and Heritage Museums.|
|Mary Lindley Murray - Courtesy of Susan Casey|
|Molly Pitcher - Library of Congress LC-USZC2-3186|
Courtesy of Susan Casey