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Women of The American Revolution


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Adams, Abigail (1744-1818) Wife, Mother, Home-maker:

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Adams, Abigail (1744-1818)

Wife, Mother, Home-maker: Abigail Adams received no formal education, but was taught at home. Although she was never a published author, much of her private correspondence with her husband, John, and her many friends survives to this day, and represents the thoughts, attitudes, and lifestyles of at least some women during the Revolutionary Period. Like many women of her time and socio-economic status, Adams was concerned about the social and political issues of her day. Like her cousin, the historian Mercy Otis Warren, she felt that women were not given sufficient status and rights. Adams felt that girls should receive a formal education similar to boys, so that they could be prepared for their vital role as republican women. She was also an opponent of chattel slavery. Her husband. John Adams, was the first vice-president and the second president of the United States. Her son, John Quincy Adams, was the fifth president of the United States. Her grandson, Charles Francis Adams, published her letters in 1840. Died Oct. 28, 1818.

BURIED: First Unitarian Church
Norfolk County

Anne Earner Bailey, American Patriot

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Mad Anne, who was she?

Anne happened to be born in October 1758 in Grotton, Conn.

Anne was brought up by her uncle Edward Mills. She was married to Elijah Bailey.

The Battle at Grotton Heights was one thing she is famous for. It happened in Fort Grizzwald on Sept. 6,1781. After the fighting, Anne walked three miles to the Fort in search of her uncle. She found him heavily wounded. Her uncle asked to see his wife and child before he died. Anne hurried home. When she got there, she had to catch and saddle the family's horse. Anne got the wife and child. and then returned to her uncle . The wife rode the horse while Anne walked and carried the baby. She received the name "Mother Bailey" because of that trip. After she brought the family to the dying uncle, Anne went around to help all others wounded.
There was a flannel shortage at Grotton. Flannel was used to make cartridges for muzzle loader guns. On July 13, 1813, Anne went door to door, collecting flannel for the soldiers. She even gave up her own flannel petticoat. It was this patriotic act that gave her the name "Heroine of Grotton". The "Martial Petticoat" has become celebrated in song and story. Anne died on January 10, 1851.

Sarah Franklin Bache

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Sarah Franklin Bache, a revolutionary war Patriot and daughter of Benjamin Franklin led an active public life according to the standards of womanhood in the late eighteenth century. As the daughter of Benjamin Franklin she had an unusual access, for a woman, to the political life in revolutionary Philadelphia. Although her primary role was of caretaker of her family and home, Bache played an active role in the Revolution through her relief work and as her father's political hostess.

Sarah Franklin Bache was born in Philadelphia on 11 September 1743 to Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read. Sarah, know as Sally throughout her life, had a typical education for a girl of her status in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. She had a great love of reading and music and was considered a skilled harpsichordist.

On 29 October 1767 Sally married Richard Bache in spite of her family's misgivings about his financial situation. It was Franklin's wish that Sally not marry Bache until his financial situation stabilized out of fear that Bache was only marring for money. Nevertheless, Sally was devastated and Deborah Franklin allowed the wedding to take place against Franklin's wishes. It was not until Sally gave birth to her first child and Franklin met Bache that he truly accepted the marriage. Bache never became a successful businessman even though Franklin gave the couple several loans and helped them set up several stores in Philadelphia. Franklin was forced to support Sally and her family that included eight children (Benjamin, William, Betsy, Louis, Deborah, Richard and Sarah) for the rest of his life.

Throughout her life, Sally was interested in political matters and thought of herself as a committed Whig. She closely followed the events leading up to the revolution and through her relief work supported the war by helping to raise money for the Continental army. She is best known for her involvement in the Ladies Association of Philadelphia. She took over leadership of the association in 1780 and supervised the sewing of 2,200 shirts or the American soldiers. 

In 1785 Benjamin Franklin returned to Philadelphia and spent his remaining years in the care of Sally and her family. When Franklin died he left most of his estate to Sally and her husband, including a miniature portrait of Louis XVI surrounded by diamonds, which she sold, against his wishes, to finance a trip to London. In 1794 the family moved to a farm outside of Philadelphia on the Delaware River, but Sally missed the city and returned in 1807 for medical treatment. She died the following year. Oct. 5, 1808. She is buried, Christ Church Burial Ground
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Far Right corner W/ Husband, Next to Parents


Jane McCrea, Revolutionary War Heroine

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Jane McCrea was born about 1752 in Bedminster (now Lamington), New Jersey. Jane McCrea, the daughter of the Rev. James McCrea, was born in 1751. Jane had eight brothers and sisters: John, William, Samuel, Stephen, Philip, Catherine, Creighton, James and Robert. She grew to be a tall, attractive woman with long blonde hair, and she was courted by David Jones. In 1776 Jones was one of several Tories in the area to join the British army. In the summer of 1777 the approach of a large British force under General John Burgoyne down Lake Champlain and the Hudson River valley and the consequent abandonment of Fort Ticonderoga  and Fort Edward by colonial defenders caused a panic among the remaining settlers, who quickly began to evacuate southward. McCrea declined to leave, however, because she had received a letter from Jones, by then a lieutenant with Burgoyne, saying that he hoped soon to see her at Fort Edward. Later legend has it that they were to be married at that time.

On the morning of July 27, 1777, McCrea visited a friend, Sarah McNeil, who was preparing to leave Fort Edward for safety. About noon the two women were captured by some Native American  scouts whom Burgoyne had employed as an advance force. McNeil was delivered safely to British hands, but McCrea was later discovered dead, several bullet wounds in her body, and scalped. Her captors claimed she had been killed by a stray bullet from a colonial detachment, but it was generally accepted that one of the scouts had killed her. The murder and scalping sent a shock of horror through the colonies; it was even felt in England, where in the House of Commons Edmund Burke denounced the use of Indian allies. In America the deed galvanized patriotic sentiment, swung waverers against the British, and encouraged a tide of enlistments that helped end Burgoyne's invasion three months later. Tory sympathizer Jane McCrea and a local family were massacred by Indians during the British army's advance south from Canada. Patriot militia, outraged that "Burgoyne's Indians" were allowed to rampage through the countryside, swarmed to Saratoga  in anger -- defeating Burgoyne and resulting in the turning point of the American Revolution. Jane McCrea, though a Tory, inspired patriots to fight because of her tragic death. The incident continued to be used as propaganda against the English and the story was immortalized by John Vanderlyn's painting, The Death of Jane McCrea, in 1804. The tale of Jane McCrea became a favorite and was much romanticized in popular versions by such authors as Philip Freneau, Joel Barlow, and Delia S. Bacon.

BURIED: Union Cemetery
Hudson Falls
Washington County
New York

Molly Pitcher

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"Molly Pitcher" was a nickname given to the women who brought water to the artillery soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Two women have been identified with the name, both with Pennsylvania connections. Margaret Cochran Corbin followed her husband, John Corbin, into the Pennsylvania Artillery, where he taught her the complex maneuvers necessary for firing heavy cannon. At Fort Washington, New York, in November of 1776, John Corbin was killed by British fire. Molly, as she was known, grabbed the pole and sponged the cannon in his place. The British were victorious and found Molly lying by the cannon, wounded with a mangled arm and damaged breast, when they overran the fort. She was released by the British when she recovered, having no value in a prisoner of war exchange. The Executive Council of Pennsylvania granted Molly a pension and she died in 1789 and is buried near West Point. She insisted on being addressed as "Captain Molly" and receiving her allotment of rum rations, her due as an injured veteran. She died Jan. 22, 1832 and is buried, Old Graveyard
Cumberland County

Deborah Samson Gannett, American Patriot

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Deborah Samson was born on Dec 17, 1760 to John and Deborah Samson in Plympton, Massachusetts. The family could trace their lineage to the Mayflower on both sides including such notables as Priscilla Alden and Myles Standish. Deborah was the eldest of 3 daughters and 3 brothers. When Deborah was about 5 yrs old, her father left to go to sea and was supposed to have died at sea. Later day research shows that he simply walked out on his family and created a new life in Maine. This left the Samson family with 6 mouths to feed and Mrs. Samson was in poor health. She fostered the children for a while, but at the tender age of 8 or 10 Deborah was placed in indentured servitude with the kind, but large family of Jeremiah Thomas of Middlesborough. The Thomas family had no girls, but lots of boys and Deborah was responsible for taking care of them and getting them ready for school. She read the boys' school books at night and succeeded in learning enough this way that when she turned 18 and was freed she obtained a position as schoolteacher in Middlesborough. All the time she spent with the Thomas Family and afterwards was spent among the growing tension between the British and the Colonists. It was during this time that the Stamp Act was placed into effect, and revolutionary thinkers such as James Otis  and Samuel Adams  were starting to show the colonists that they didn't need the British to protect them, that in fact the colonies could protect themselves. Deborah watched as the British attempted to halt the rebellious talk and acts by closing the port of Boston and quartering troops in private homes. She watched as the "intolerable acts" were put into effect and she heard the news of the stand in Lexington and Concord that fateful April day. She heard the reading of the Declaration of Independence and she watched the young colonists get their first real taste of war. She was not frightened by this, her only question was "Why can I not fight for my country too?". Deborah finally decided that to do her duty to her country she would dress up as a man and enlist. Her first attempt was in 1782 but after signing the enlistment papers to join the American Army, she had a change of heart and did not show up the next day. A while later in 1782 she firmed her resolve and attempted again to enlist in the military. She, on May 20, 1782, signed up to join the company of Captain Nathan Thayer, which later became a part of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment using the name Robert Shurtleff. Although General Cornwallis had already surrendered at Yorktown. there was still fighting in New York.. Her disguise worked and she was mustered into Captain George Webbs Co. Her local church hearing rumors of her "Unchristian" like behavior of wearing men's clothing and joining the army, decided shortly after her company left the Boston area, to excommunicate her. Such was often the price for individualist thinking. Deborah's company though was going to lower New York where while Washington held the area, many small guerilla attacks were still happening. Deborah's company was charged with assisting to halt those attacks. During one of the particularly bloody engagements in Tarrytown, NY, Deborah, while attempting to retreat, was wounded in the head and then the thigh. She was escorted to a field hospital where her head wound was treated. She did not tell the doctor about the musket shot in her leg for fear of discovery. She tried to treat the wound herself, but lacking the strength to dig the musket ball out, she left it there and as such her leg never healed properly. She, after many weeks, healed enough to return to active duty. During this time though she was to come down with a fever and the doctor while treating her, discovered her secret. He had her removed to his house and personally oversaw her treatment, all the while keeping her secret. After Deborah was healed he secretly passed her secret on to a General at Fort Knox who then honorably discharged her on October 23, 1783, while publicly keeping her secret. Deborah when talked about as Robert, was thought of as a great soldier, with endurance and courage, something much needed in the military at that time. The war had been long and hard. After the war she met and married Benjamin Gannet. Although a good marriage, it was a poor marriage. The Gannets often had to borrow money. Paul Revere,  a good friend of Deborah, upon hearing this, petitioned the Massachusetts government to provide her with back pay and interest to the sum of 37 pounds. This was not enough to ease their financial woes, so Deborah took to the lecture circuit. She was the first female lectern. She would travel from city to city and give lectures about her experience as a soldier in the war, wearing her uniform and such. This while better still was not enough, so in the early 1800's she was awarded a veterans pension of 4 dollars a month. This pension was eventually awarded to her husband as a survivor pension after Deborah died on April 19, 1827 in Sharon, Mass. She was 67 years old and had 3 children. Deborah is now the official Heroine of the State of Massachusetts and there is even a chapter of DAR named after her. She was a true American Hero.

More Women of the Revolution

There is the little known story of Rachel and Grace Martin who disguised themselves as men and assailed a British courier and his guards. They took his important dispatches, which they speedily forwarded to General Greene. Then they released the two officers who didn't even know that they were women.

Angelica Vrooman, during the heat of battle, sat calmly in a tent with a bullet mould, some lead and an iron spoon, moulding bullets for the rangers.

Mary Hagidorn, upon hearing the order by a Captain Hager, for the women and children to retire to the long cellar, said: "Captain, I shall not go to that cellar should the enemy come. I will take a spear which I can use as well as any man and help defend the fort." The captain seeing her determination answered "then take a spear,Mary, and be ready at the pickets to repel an attack." She cheerfully obeyed and held the spear at the pickets till hurrahs for the American flag burst on her ear and told that all was safe.



Anne Trotter Bailey.

She was born in Liverpool, England as Anne Hennis in 1742. She went to live with relatives when her parents passed away in 1761. Her relatives lived in Virginia near Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley, U.S.A. She married Richard Trotter in 1765. She had one son named William. When William was 7 his father passed away. Richard was killed in a battle on October 19, 1774. After he died, Anne left William with a neighbor named Mrs. Moses Mann. Then Anne dressed like a man and joined the army. She went to many militia meetings to tell the men to fight the British or the Indians.

Anne had four nicknames. They were: "A Daughter of the Revolution", "The Pioneer Herione of the Great Kanawah shore", "Mad Anne" and "The White Squaw of Kanawah". The most fascinating nickname she had, I think, was "Mad Anne". The Indians named her that because they thought she was possessed by an evil spirit and that she was insane. They thought that because she could ride through Indian territory without harm. One time the Indians were chasing Anne. She knew she couldn't out run them so, she jumped off her horse and hid in a hollow log. Although the Indians looked everywhere, they couldn't find her so they took her horse. Later that night, Anne snuck into their camp and stole her horse back. She rode away and at a safe distance, she screamed and yelled like a wild woman.

The ride in 1791 was what Anne is most famous for. A runner was sent from Point Pleasant to Ft. Lee to say Indians were going to attack with a large army force within a few days. The ammunition was low in Ft. Lee at the time. They needed ammunition so they could fight off the Indians. Anne rode a very dangerous trail alone. She rode 100 miles to Lewisburg across wilderness without roads to get the gun powder. She returned with the much needed supply of ammunition. Anne died in November 1825 of old age. A poem was written in 1861 by Charles Robb about this ride. It was called " Anne Bailey's Ride".



Margaret Cochran Corbin

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Margaret Cochran Corbin fought alongside her husband in the American Revolutionary War and was the first woman to receive pension from the United States government as a disabled soldier.

She was born Nov. 12, 1751 near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., orphaned at the age of five and was raised by relatives. When she was twenty-one she married John Corbin. John joined the Continental Army when the American Revolution started four years later and Margaret accompanied her husband. Wives of the soldiers often cooked for the men, washed their laundry and nursed wounded soldiers. They also watched the men do their drills and, no doubt, learned those drills, too.

On November 16,1776, while they were stationed in Fort Washington, New York, the fort was attacked by British and Hessian troops. John was assisting a gunner until the gunner was killed. At this point John took charge of the cannon and Margaret assisted him. Sometime later, John was killed also. With no time to grieve, Margaret continued loading and firing the cannon by herself until she was wounded by grapeshot which tore her shoulder, mangled her chest and lacerated her jaw. Other soldiers moved her to the rear where she received first aid. The fort was captured by the British, but the wounded American soldiers were paroled. They were ferried across the river to Fort Lee. Margaret was then transported further in a jolting wagon all the way to Philadelphia. She never recovered fully from her wounds and was left without use of her left arm for the rest of her life.

In 1779, the Continental Congress granted her a pension ("half the pay and allowances of a soldier in service") due to her distinguished bravery. She continued to be included on regimental muster lists until the end of the war in 1783. Margaret Cochran Corbin died near West Point, New York prior to her fiftieth birthday.

In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution had her remains moved from an obscure grave and re-interred with other soldiers behind the Old Cadet Chapel at West Point where they also erected a monument to her. Near the place of the battle, in Fort Tryon Park in New York City, a bronze plaque commemorates Margaret Corbin "the first American woman to take a soldier's part in the War for Liberty".

BORN: Nov. 12, 1751

DIED: Jan. 16, 1800

BURIED: United States Military Academy Post Cemetery
West Point
Orange County
New York, USA
Plot: Section 11, Row A, Grave 01


Sybil Ludington

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Sybil Ludington was the eldest of twelve children. Her father, Col. Ludington, had served in the French and Indian war. As a mill owner in Patterson, New York, he was a community leader, and he volunteered to serve as the local militia commander as war with the British loomed.

When he received word late on April 26, 1777, that the British were attacking Danbury, Connecticut, Colonel Ludington knew that they would move from there into further attacks in New York. As head of the local militia, he needed to muster his troops from their farmhouses around the distict, and to warn the people of the countryside of possible British attack.

Sybil Ludington, 16 years old, volunteered to warn the countryside of the attack and to alert the militia troops to muster at Ludington's. The glow of the flames would have been visible for miles.

She traveled some 40 miles through the towns of Carmel, Mahopac, and Stormville, in the middle of the night, in a rainstorm, on muddy roads, shouting that the British were burning Danbury and calling out the militia to assemble at Ludington's. When Sybil Ludington returned home, most of the militia troops were ready to march to confront the British.

The 400-some troops were not able to save the supplies and the town at Danbury -- the British seized or destroyed food and munitions and burned the town -- but they were able to stop the British advance and push them back to their boats, in the Battle of Ridgefield.

Sybil Ludington's contribution to the war was to help stop the advance of the British, and thus give the American militia more time to organize and resist. She was recognized for her midnight ride by those in the neighborhood, and was also recognized by General George Washington.

Sybil Ludington continued to help as she could with the Revolutionary War effort, in one of the typical roles that women were able to play in that war: as a messenger.

In October, 1784, Sybil Ludington married lawyer Edward Ogden and lived the rest of her life in Unadilla, New York.

Her hometown was renamed Ludingtonville in honor of her heroic ride.

BORN: Apr. 5, 1761

DIED: Feb. 26, 1839

BURIED: Patterson Presbyterian
Putnam County
New York



Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley,

born in New Jersey in 1754, married a man named John Hays, who enlisted in the army in 1775. They spent a hard winter at Valley Forge. When her husband collapsed by his cannon at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, Molly loaded and fired the cannon throughout the battle and is often depicted holding the large rammer. She is also credited with nursing wounded soldiers, even carrying one from the battlefield. George Washington made her a sergeant and she was later pensioned by the Continental Army. "Sergeant Molly" died in 1832 and is buried in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where a flagstaff and cannon honor her gravesite

Anna Maria Lane

On 6 February 1808 the General Assembly approved a pension for Anna Maria Lane, the state of Virginia's only known female veteran of the American Revolution.

In a message to the General Assembly, Governor William H. Cabell recommended the pension for Lane, who was then working as a nurse in Richmond. He stated that "Anna Maria Lane is very infirm, having been disabled by a severe wound, which she received while fighting as a common soldier in one of our Revolutionary battles."

The legislature responded and stated that "in the garb and with the courage of a soldier [she] performed extraordinary military services and received a severe wound at the Battle of Germantown." It is impossible to determine what circumstances led to Anna Maria Lane being wounded on a Pennsylvania battlefield. She probably disguised herself as a man so she could join her husband, John Lane, when he enlisted in the Connecticut Continental Line. After the war, the Lanes settled in Richmond, and Anna worked as a nurse for the Public Guard until failing health forced her to stop.

Of course, most women did not support the American Revolution by disguising themselves as soldiers and fighting in combat. But Lane's example is a reminder that women supported the military effort in a range of private and sometimes public roles. Although we do not know many details about Anna Maria Lane, her actions at the battle of Germantown must have been extraordinary. The General Assembly awarded her an unusually large pension, which she received until her death in 1810. In 1997 Lane was the subject of a historical marker erected on Ninth Street, near Capitol Square's Bell Tower.


Contributor: bgill
Created: May 10, 2007 · Modified: May 23, 2007

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