The Bravery Of Women In The American Revolution

These are just a few of the courageous women whose fighting spirit helped to win American freedom.

Women played a vital role in the success of the Continental Army's struggle to wrest American freedom from the British. When Revolutionary women are mentioned, the first one who usually comes to mind is Betsy Ross. Betsy Ross was a 24-year-old widow when asked by George Washington and the 1776 Congressional Committee on flag design to make the first American flag. Few people know that Ross and Washington had been friends for years, having both attended Christ Church in Philadelphia. Also not widely known is that Betsy Ross not only sewed the flag, she helped design it. Washington had originally wanted the flag adorned with six-point stars; Ross suggested the five-point stars that were eventually used.

Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man to fight with the American Army. For three years she served as Robert Shirtliffe, and was wounded twice. As these wounds were in the head and shoulder, her sexual identity was not found out. It was not until she came down with brain fever that she was unmasked. Not wanting to humiliate her, General George Washington honorably discharged her and gave her enough money to make her way home. Later, Paul Revere championed her bravery and a bill was passed granting her a pension and some real estate in reward for her service.

Polly Cooper, an Oneida Indian, cooked and nursed in the Continental Army, and followed the troops in the harshest of weather, refusing to leave their sides. For her loyalty, the officers bought her a beautiful shawl, and from that time forward she referred to herself as Polly Cooper Shawl.

Rebecca Sitwell, of New Jersey, daughter of a Captain in the continental Army, saved a storehouse of ammunition from being stolen by the British when she fired a cannon on their ship. They immediately retreated. Her sister, Sarah, was courageous enough to barter one-on-one with a British general for the release of her captured husband. The Sitwell sisters have been memorialized by the Daughters of the American Revolution for their contribution to the Revolution.

Historians argue over whether there was an individual "Molly Pitcher" or whether she was a symbol of all those women whose mettle was tested in the war. Supposedly Molly served at the battle of Monmouth, on June 28, 1778. In 100-degree temperatures, she hauled water to the exhausted troops, and then took her husband's place at the cannon when he was felled. If Molly Pitcher was a real woman, she was probably Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, who lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and after the war was given a pension "for services rendered."

Nancy Morgan Hart may be the most intriguing of all Revolutionary women. Standing six feet tall, with long red hair, Nancy was a Continental spy who was so fierce in her patriotism that the local Native Americans referred to her as "Warrior Woman." When six Tories invaded her home, demanding food, she instead plied them with liquor and stole one of their guns. She held them there until the Continental Army arrived, and allegedly sang "Yankee Doodle" at the top of her lungs as the Tories were hanged. Like so many other women in the Revolutionary War, Nancy Morgan Hart had proved herself to be a soldier.

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