"History raves about the heroics of men in war...but few instances are mentioned in which female courage was displayed. Yet in every conflict, and the peaceful years between, they were there, too."
Many women dressed as men and fought in the war although it was far more common for them to be camp followers who stayed with their husbands and earned pay as cooks, laundresses, and nurses. Women also delivered secret messages, spied on the British, and produced goods for the men.
Debra Sampson was the first known American Woman to impersonate a man in order to join the army and take part in the combat. . She was 21 years old , and at 5 foot 7 inches quite tall for a woman, when she enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts regiment of the Continental Army...as a man named Robert Shurtleff. Although she was teased by the other soldiers because she didn't have to shave, they just took her for a boy who was still to young to grow facial hair. Eventually, she went with her regiment to West Point, New York where she was wounded in battle, but tended to her own wounds so that she wouldn't be found out. As a result, her leg never did heal properly, and when she was hospitalized for a fever in Philadelphia, the physician discovered that this boy was, in fact, a woman and made arrangements that ended her military career. She was honorably discharged from the army at West Point on 25 Oct 1783.
Mary Hayes McCauley (Molly Pitcher) became famous at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. The day was very hot and the canons were being fired so continuously that they required water to cool them down. Mary spent the day ferrying water back and forth the cool down the canons and to serve the soldiers who were dying of dehydration. She also helped tend to the wounded and even dragged one of the wounded back across the lines and away from British forces. Then, as she returned back onto the battlefield, her husband was wounded. Mary took his place, operating the plunger, and helping to load the canon. This made her the second woman to man a gun on the battlefield. Later, by the order of George Washington, she became a commissioned officer and to this day has remained an example of female greatness in the face of battle...a true heroine of the Revolutionary War.
Margaret Corbin followed her husband in the Revolutionary War and stayed with him when the British attacked Fort Washington in New York. She took over her husband's job as the person who loads the cannon when her husband was killed. She was also hit and left for dead, but a passing doctor stopped and saved her life. Her wounds left her permanently disabled, and for her bravery, "Captain Molly" became a part of the Invalid Regiment. She was the first woman to receive a lifetime pension for the wounds she suffered in battle.
Rebecca Barrett, the wife of a militia colonel, hid military stores and equipment on her farm, then remained at home to protect her family from the British.
Mary Hagidorn's reply to orders for the women and children to retire to the cellar, "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."
And there are so many, many more...far too many to mention. Ladies, I salute your courage and thank you for your fight for the freedom I have today. So, tomorrow, as we pay homage to the men of the Revolution, let us not forget the women who fought so bravely beside them.
Have a safe and happy 4th.