Robert Schurtleff reenlisted in Captain George Webb's company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. He had completed a tour of duty with the United States Army during the American Revolution and Robert felt compelled to reenter the battlefield, bravely participating in combat alongside General John Paterson of Westpoint. But Robert's tour was cut short when an Army physician shockingly revealed his true identity: a woman by the name of Deborah Sampson.

Occasionally, wives of the US Army soldiers of the American Revolution became "camp followers." They traveled alongside their husbands to each encampment: cooking, cleaning and mending the wounded. But Margaret Cochran Corbin did more than just tidy up the camp. She keenly observed her husband load and fire cannons and as she watched, she began to rehearse alongside the other artillerymen.

Staying by her husband's side, Margaret's acquired skill was put to the test when she was forced to load the cannon after their gunner was killed during battle. Soon, Margaret's husband was also killed but she armed herself at the ready, reloaded her cannon and fought. Wounded, Margaret was left for dead but she survived and received a lifetime pension as an American Revolutionary soldier.

The men of Groton, Massachusetts gathered one night to search out the nearby British soldiers. But Prudence Wright would not sit idly at home, waiting for her husband to return. She quickly gathered other wives within the village and the cocky bunch dressed in their husband's clothes, arming themselves with whatever could be found. Sneaking outside to defend their village bridge, the plucky women hid in the reeds along the river, rummaging through the pack of a British spy as he camped. Prudence's gang snuck back with secret written messages swiped from the British agent, relishing in their critical loot.


As we approach the 4th of July, many family historians will feel called to dig deeper into their American Revolutionary ancestry. But it is important to keep a keen eye to the history of the wives and yes, female soldiers of the Revolution. There were notable women who served our country admirably as soldiers and spies. Some so driven to fight, they disguised themselves as young men in order to place themselves in harm's way.

And even if we did not have a female ancestor who fought in the war, our grandmothers contributed to the Revolution by their sheer grit, determination and loyalty to their husbands, son, brothers and country.

Take the time during this holiday to learn more about our women of the American Revolution. Read about their service at and consider the sacrifice of your own female ancestor of the Revolution, whatever her role might have been.

Keep searching for answers,



07/11/2012 2:49am

Great article and very informative. Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.