Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mrs. Spalding

 

The wife of a patriot during the Revolution should be sufficient title to a place among the world's heroines. But it is only through the lives of those few whose cases have passed them into the class of super-woman that we call emphasis to the brave spirit which must have upheld them. Of such an embodiment of the spirit of the Revolution was Mrs. Spalding, the wife of one of the patriots who took refuge in Florida, after Colonel Campbell had taken possession of Savannah.

In 1778 Mrs. Spalding left her residence with her child when flight became necessary. Twice during the war she traversed two hundred miles between Savannah and St John's River in an open boat, with only black servants on board, and the whole country a desert without a house to shelter her and her infant son.

The first of these occasions was when she visited her father and brothers while prisoners in Savannah; the second, when in 1782 she went to congratulate her brothers and uncle in their victory. At one time she left Savannah in a ship of twenty guns, built in all points to resemble a sloop of war. Without the appearance of a cargo, it was in reality a small merchantman engaged in commerce. When they had been out some days, a large ship, painted black and showing twelve guns on a side, was seen to the windward running across their course. She was obviously a French privateer. The captain announced there was no hope to out-sail her should their course be altered nor would there be wisdom in conflict, as those ships usually carried one hundred and fifty men. Yet he rather thought if no effort were made to shun the privateer the appearance of his own ship might deter an attack. Word of the peril was sent to Mrs. Spalding, who was below, and after a few minutes the captain visited her to find a most touching scene. Mrs. Spalding had placed her children and the other inmates of the cabin in the two staterooms for safety, filling the berths with cots and bedding from the outer cabin. She had then taken her own station beside the scuttle which led from the outer cabin to the magazine, and there she stood ready with two buckets of water. Having noticed that the two cabin boys were heedless she had determined to keep watch herself over the magazine. This she did until the danger was passed.

The captain took in his light sails, opened his ports, and stood upon his course. The privateer waited until the ship was within a mile, then fired a gun to windward and stood on her way. The ruse had saved the merchantman. The incident may serve to show the spirit of this woman, who bore her bitter part in the perils of the Revolution.

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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