Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Grace and Rachel Martin

 

In reviewing the American Revolution, few people have realized how important the daring exploit of those two young women was in averting the British invasion in South Carolina. They were the wives of the eldest sons of the Martin family, all the members of which were distinguished for active service in the cause.

While their husbands were at the front they remained with the mother, Elizabeth Martin, herself a prominent figure in the Revolution. One evening intelligence came to them that a courier conveying important dispatches was to pass that night along the road, guarded by two British officers. They determined to waylay the party and even at the risk of their own lives to obtain possession of the papers. For this purpose the young women disguised themselves in their husband's clothes, and being well provided with arms, took their station at the point on the road which they knew the escort must pass.

It was late and they had not waited long before the tramp of horses was heard in the distance. It may be imagined with what anxious expectation they awaited the approach of the critical moment, on which so much depended. The stillness of the night and the darkness of the forest must have added to the terrors conjured up by busy fancies. Presently the courier with his attending guards appeared. As they came close to the spot, the disguised women leaped from their covert in the bushes, presented their pistols at the officers, and demanded instant surrender of the party and their dispatches. The men were completely taken by surprise and in their alarm at the sudden attack yielded a prompt submission. The seeming soldiers put the enemy on their parole, and having secured possession of the papers, hastened home by a short cut through the woods.

No time was lost in sending the documents by a trusted messenger to General Greene. The adventure had a singular sequel. The bewildered officers thus thwarted in their mission returned by the same road they had come and stopped at the house of Mrs. Martin, asking accommodation as weary travelers for the night. The hostess inquiring the reason for their returning so soon after they had passed, they replied by showing their paroles, saying they had been taken prisoners by two rebel lads.

The women rallied them upon their want of courage, and you no arms?" was asked. The officers answered that they had arms, but had been suddenly taken off their guard and were allowed no time to use their weapons. They departed next morning having no suspicion that they owed their capture to the very women whose hospitality they had claimed.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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