Revolutionary Women, Part 3

In the late 1770s and early 1780s, the Revolutionary War battlefields moved from the northeastern states, and the staging ground moved south. Daniel Morgan

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had worked with George Washington in a number of campaigns and put together a group of long-rifle specialists, who quickly became a fierce fighting force. The Battle of Cowpens, in South Carolina in 1781, was victorious for the Patriot soldiers, and Morgan’s forces were a major linchpin in orchestrating this victory.

Morgan had a cousin who was also a sharpshooter. However, this cousin was not a man, but a woman.

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Nancy Hart

Ann (Nancy) Morgan was born around 1735 in either Pennsylvania or North Carolina. In 1771, at the ripe old age of 36, she married Benjamin Hart and moved with him to the Broad River in Georgia. Six feet tall, gangly Nancy Hart was a rough-hewn and rawboned woman, with a head full of red hair and a temper to match. Even with her late marriage, she had eight children, and wore the proverbial pants in her household. At times, she was known to don her husband’s pants and infiltrate Tory camps, where she overheard talk of their next moves, and observed the layouts of the camps. It became Nancy’s mission to get rid of all British Loyalists in Georgia territory.

The best story about Nancy was when a group of Torys picked the Hart house to harass. They killed one of Nancy’s prize turkeys and told her to cook it for them. She told them she would feed them, but they had to leave their guns at the door if they were to enter her house. As the group of soldiers began eating and drinking, Nancy began shoving their guns out through a hole in the wall to one of her daughters. She picked up one of the remaining guns and ordered the men to stay at the table. One of them ignored her and stood. Nancy shot him. Another made a move toward the remaining guns, and Nancy killed him as well. She held the rest of the group at bay until her husband and the neighbors arrived, brandishing the stolen British guns. Nancy’s husband wanted to shoot the remaining Torys but Nancy wanted them hung, since shooting was too good for them.

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This might have been just another Revolutionary War story that was blown out of proportion with the telling and retelling of the story. But, in 1912, a railroad crew unearthed five or six skeletons buried in a neat row near what had been the Hart cabin. A few of them had their necks broken, indicative of a hanging death, lending credence to the story. It seems you didn’t mess with Nancy.

Following Benjamin’s death in 1800, she moved to Kentucky, to be near one of her sons. She died at age 93.

In the early 1930s, the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a replica cabin along River Road in Georgia near where Nancy’s cabin had once been.

m-11026They used the chimney stones recovered from the original cabin. Hart County, north of Elbert County in Georgia, and its county seat, Hartwell, were named in her honor, and she is the only Georgia woman who has had such an honor. During the Civil War, a group of ladies in LaGrange County, formed a militia unit to defend their town from the Union army since their men were off fighting the war elsewhere. They called themselves the Nancy Harts. In 1997 Nancy Hart was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement. And a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Georgia was renamed in her honor. Her legacy endures because of her spirit, loyalty to the Patriot cause, her bravery, and her willingness to protect and defend her family.

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For further reading on the life and times of Nancy Hart, here are a few books that delve deeper into her story.

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Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Hart

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/nancy-morgan-hart

https://www.frauncestavernmuseum.org/the-legend-of-nancy-hart

http://www.ourgeorgiahistory.com/ogh/Nancy_Hart

______________________________________________________________________________Becky Lower’s new historical series Revolutionary Women, features Daniel Morgan’s Rifle Corps in the second and third books in this trilogy. The Rifle Corps played a major part in the culmination of the war effort. Although Becky Lower’s revolutionary women are complete fabrications, there are plenty of heroic women who played a major part in America’s freedom. The women who have been featured on History Imagined are only a few of them.