Revolutionary War

Woman Spies During The Revolutionary War

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Introduction

Women have traditionally and in great numbers volunteered to help protect the nation. Besides enlisting in the military, women have effectively served in the shadowy world of espionage as couriers, guides, code breakers, intelligence analysts, even as covert agents—spies. Here are a few Women who gave their lives to help benefit the Revolutionary War.

Sybil Ludington


Sybil Ludington, often referred to as "the Female Paul Revere," was born on April 16, 1761 and died in 1839. Sybil is most known for her "midnight ride" during the American Revolution to warn the Americans of the British invading. When British troops and British loyalists attacked a nearby town, Danbury, Connecticut, in 1777, a rider came to the Ludington household to warn them and ask for the local regiment’s help. At the time, the Colonel’s regiment was disbanded for planting season, and all of the men were miles apart at their respective farms. The rider was too tired to continue and Colonel Ludington had to prepare for battle, so he enlisted his barely sixteen-year-old daughter, Sybil, to ride through the night, alerting his men of the danger and urging them to come together to fight back. Ludington rode all night through the dark woods, covering forty miles (a longer distance than Revere rode), and because of her bravery, almost the whole regiment was gathered by daybreak to fight the British.

Miss Jenny

Miss Jenny, on August 15, 1781, delivered a private message from Baron Ottendorf to Sir Henry Clinton. She was born on October 6, 1820. Miss Jenny was a spy for the British. She was spying on the Americans and the French during the Revolutionary War to help intercept private messages. She was a French-speaking Loyalist who infiltrated French camps and passed information along to the British. Acting on intel that the French were moving troops in an impending attack on New York City, Miss Jenny was out and about trying to confirm the information when she was caught by a French guard. The lady held to her story that she was looking for her French-Canadian father, a story which did not appear to go over well, and consequently, Miss Jenny was turned over to none other than George Washington. Further questioning achieved nothing because she stuck to her story despite rigorous questioning. Washington then handed her back over the French, who in a last ditch effort, attempted to make her talk but to no avail.

Lydia Darragh

"Though we consider thee as a public enemy, we regard thee as a private friend. While we detest the cause thee fights for, we wish well to thy personal interest and safety,” said Lydia Darragh, a Quaker, a pacifist, a mother, and an American spy. Lydia Darragh acted to save the American Army during the Revolutionary War from an attack from the British. British forces had taken control of Philadelphia with their artillery and bayonets, and the British General chose a house opposite the Darrah’s as his base. This chance choice by the British General gave Lydia the option to eavesdrop on the British to find out what they were doing, something which she did without being asked. As Lydia gathered information she passed it on to her eldest son based in the Continental Army. Lydia Darragh died in 1789 at the age of 61.

Ann Bates

Common thinking during the American Revolution conveyed that women were not smart enough to understand the issues relating to war. As a result, many women could easily overhear classified information by listening to the conversations of the men surrounding them.

Ann Bates took the pseudonym "Mrs. Barnes," posed as a peddler, and sold her goods to Americans while secretly reporting information back to the British. She even managed to gain access to George Washington's camp, which may be considered one of her biggest accomplishments.

Deborah Sampson

Deborah Sampson Gannett ( December 25 ,1760 – April 29, 1827), better known as Deborah Sampson, was a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She is part of a small number of women with a documented record of military combat experience in that war. She served 17 months in the army, as "Robert Shurtliff " of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was wounded in 1782 and honorably discharged at West Point, New York in 1783.

Kate Barry

Catharine Moore Barry (1752–1823), later known as "Kate Barry," was a heroine of the American Revolutionary War. She was daughter of Charles and Mary Moore, and the eldest of ten children. She married Andrew Barry in 1767 at the age of 15, and lived on Walnut Grove Plantation in Roebuck, South Carolinaduring the 18th century. Kate was instrumental in helping to warn the militia of the coming British before the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. According to legend, she tied her toddler to the bedpost while she rode out to warn neighbors that the British were coming.