Women of the American Revolution

It’s the 4th of July, a time for all Americans to celebrate the country’s independence from Great Britain.  But the United States is about more than just the founding fathers.  Here are some of the lesser known women who made their mark in making the United States an independent nation.

For many, the Boston Tea Party is synonymous with the uprising leading to the war.  But Boston wasn’t the first tea party, Penelope Barker’s Edenton Tea Party was.

Months before any active independence movement, Penelope Barker led the Edenton Tea Party. Unlike the better known Boston Tea Party, Penelope and more than 50 women did not dress up in costumes to show the British how they felt. Penelope wrote up a declaration against the use of tea, and clothes made from British cloth. All the women at the meeting signed. The British, naturally, laughed at women protesting. Women’s opinions at the time were not considered important. The British took notice as more women joined the boycott of British goods. But, without firing a shot, these women let Britain know where the power lies -in the hands of those who rock the cradle. Women joined their men in showing the British that they, too, would not stand for taxation without representation.

Everyone learns in school of the midnight ride of minuteman Paul Revere, but no one ever studies the even longer ride of Sybil Ludington.

Sybil’s ride became necessary because the British had ransacked Danbury, Connecticut. Danbury was a Patriot supply center. They were then headed for Fredricksburg, New York. A young soldier arrived at Sybil’s father’s house. Colonel Ludington was in charge of the local volunteers. Needing someone to go at once to gather the troops, Sybil jumped at the chance. She rode to the many villages, informing everyone what was happening. Thanks to her bravery, the Patriots were able to force the British back to Long Island Sound. From there, they sailed away.

And Sybil wasn’t the only woman to assist on the line.   There was also Minutewoman Prudence Wright:

With their men out looking for British soldiers, Prudence Wright gathered the women of Groton, Massachusetts. They would defend the bridge leading into town. Putting on their husbands clothes, they looked a sight. The armed themselves with whatever they could get their hands on, some using pitchforks. They hid in the reeds until a British officer came by, given away by his horse’s hooves on the bridge. The women removed the secret messages he was carrying, passing them on to the local Patriot Committee of Safety. Back home, the women laughed at the surprise of the British officer when he found out that he had been had by women.

Many people know of General George Washington and his role in leading the troops during the Revolution.  But few know of the woman who may have single-handedly assisted in turning the war around.   Meet Catherine Moore Berry:

It was l781. The British, under command of General Cornwallis was out to crush a group of Patriots commanded by a General Morgan. General Morgan, realizing how out-manned he was, appealed to Catherine Moore Barry for help. She knew every inch of the land she lived in. She knew all the short cuts, the trail, where Patriots lived, and how to contact them. Single-handedly, Catherine rounded up the necessary local Patriots to join General Morgan’s troops. With Catherine’s help, General Morgan laid a trap for General Corwallis and his men. The plan worked. General Cornwallis was defeated, retreating into the hands of General Washington… at Yorktown, Virginia. With his surrender there, the colonies won their independence from Britain.


wikimedia commons


Lucy Wingate
Lucy Wingate7 years ago

Thanks for this wonderful article! I had never heard of these women before, but I'm so proud of them all! It's time women received greater recognition for their acts of bravery and courage such as these.

clara H.
Clara Hamill7 years ago

I never heard of these woman thanks for telling me.

Kathy Javens
Kathy Javens7 years ago

there are many people,women and men,alike that are excluded from our history books. i realize that there is not enough room to include everybody who contributed to the making of this country,but at least touch on some of these people briefly. there is so much of our history that our children are missing. these people are part of the fabric in the rich heritage that is america. thank you care2 for bringing this front and center where it should be. peace to all:)

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS7 years ago

I love the image of Betsy Ross used to illustrate this article. When I was growing up, we had a huge lithograph print of this painting hanging in our dining room. It brings back a lot of memories.

Rebecca M.
.7 years ago

really? there are plenty of people overlooked in this holiday- how about the colored people.. i'm sure there were colored people who fought and did plenty of brave things without being acknowledged.
we need not be so sensitive about women in particular- let's talk about EVERYBODY who is left out in holiday celebrations.

Christine T.
Ciara T7 years ago

It is pathetic that the fantastic deeds of women everywhere are never covered. If more topics like this were shared, American would have more to be proud of. However, as was stated before, education in history is already severely lacking, and possibly becoming worse (at least in states like Texas), so there is not much to be expected.

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

Thanks for casting a new light on this.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

Thank you for the article, I never knew.

Gale Johansen
Gale Johansen7 years ago

As we were doing our annual viewing of the movie 1776 (and yes I know it presents a somewhat limited view but it has its moments and at least the founders are depicted as fallible humans) my nineteen-year-old son said if he could go back into history he would want to meet...Abigail Adams! I count this as a triumph and it made me think that we are making a bit of progress. I am always astounded, every February during Black History Month, by the fact that there is one little bit of information that is new to me...every year...without fail and I am a history fanatic. It happens every year and reinforces the notion that our history education in America is absolutely abysmal. Our history, both American and of the larger world has been made by people of every hue, gender, economic status and sexual preference and we really must do a better job of teaching that to everyone. In fact we could do a better job of teaching just about everything from a broader prospective and it's important that we do so as the world gets smaller and our interconnection becomes ever closer.

James B.
James B.7 years ago

Elizabeth Loring should be included.