When learning or reading about the American Revolution, one often times recalls the great men who were involved…George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock, Daniel Morgan, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Adams, even John Burgoyne and Benedict Arnold. But very rarely do we hear about the women who were involved in the war as well. Not only were they making the uniforms for the Continental (Patriot) Army, they were also leading political talks, hauling pitchers of water, feeding the troops, firing cannons, and some even cross-dressed and disguised themselves as men so they could bear arms and fight in the war (or just fought in the war and didn’t both cross-dressing). There was even a female version of Paul Revere. Why, then, do we rarely hear about all that the women have done? Certainly there were great women and not just great men. There’s an old addage that “Behind every great man there has to be a great woman” but, sometimes, BESIDE every great man there was a great woman. This is an article about those great women.
Mary Ludwig Hayes, also known as “Molly Pitcher”, was one such heroine of the American Revolution. At the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778), Molly was running through the balltefiled dodging musketballs to bring fresh water to the solders so they wouldn’t be overheated and pass out because of the muggy June New Jersey weather. Her husband opperated one of the cannons and he was shot and fell. “Molly” ran to his side, but seeing that there was little she could do, she took his place at the cannon and fired into the oncoming British line.
Deborah Sampson was another heroine of the American Revolution. She was one such woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the Continental Army. Under the guise of “Robert Shurtlieff Samson”, taking the name of her deceased brother. She served 17 months in the army, was wounded in 1782, and was honorably discharged at West Point in 1783. She served in the 4th massachusetts Regiment in the Light Infantry Company under the command of Captain Geroge Webb. Deborah fought in several skirmishes, however, during her first battle outside of Terrytown, New York on July 3, 1782, she was injured–she had a cut on her forehead and took two musketballs to one of her thighs. She urged her fellow infantrymen to continue without her and let her die, not wanting her guise to be discovered, but one of the men refused and put her on his horse and rode six miles to the nearest hospital with her. She let the doctors treat the head wound but left before they could remove the musketballs. She used a penknife and sewing needle to remove one of the musketballs, but because she couldn’t reach the other one, her leg never fully healed. After that battle, she was promoted and spent several months under the leadership of General John Patterson. After a peace treaty was signed, everyone thought the wat was over but that was not true. General George Washington was ordered to send a fleet of ships and men to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the summer of 1783, Deborah came down with malignant fever and was cared for by a doctor, Barnabas Binney. He removed her clothes to treat her and discovered the band she used to bind her breasts and, thus, discovered her secret. He did not betray her secret; he took her to his house, where his wife and daughters further treated her. After Sampson recovered she returned to the army, but it wasn’t for long. In September 1783, peace was assured through the signing of the Treaty of Peace of Paris. November 3rd was the date for the soldiers to be sent home. When Dr. Binney asked her to deliver a note to General John Patterson, she thought that her secret was out. However, General Patterson never uttered a word; instead, she received an honorable discharge from the service, a note with some words of advice, and a sum of money sufficient to bear her expenses home. Thus, on October 25, 1783, General Henry Knox honorably discharged Deborah Sampson from the Army at West Point, after a year and a half of service.
Sybil Ludington was one of the youngest women involved in the American Revolution ans was dubbed the title of the female Paul Revere. Sybil Ludington was the daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington, who was the commander of the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia in New York. On April 26, 1777, and at only 16-years-old, Sybil took her famous midnight ride around her home of Carmel, New York to warn the militia of the approaching British troops. She rode 40 miles, which is more than twice the distance Paul Revere rode to warn the Massachusetts Militia that the British were coming to the storehouses at Lexington in 1775. When Sybil arrived back to her house at dawn, the 400 militiamen were ready to march. Although they were too late to save Danbury, Connecticut and lost the Battle of Ridgefield, she was recognized by neighbors, friends, and even General George Washington and is still remembered today as one of the great Patriot heroines.
Men weren’t the only ones who did great things during the War for Independence. There were great women as well, and this article only highlights a few of them. Like what I’ve previously stated, sometimes BESIDE every great man is a great woman.