Forgotten Patriots Who Supported the American Struggle for Independence
Patterns of Patriotism
Emily Jean Hollingshead
Homeschool Grade 8
Harmony Mission DAR Chapter
To history students around the country many of our Patriotic heroes from the
Revolutionary War are mere names and dates to memorize. How different would that be if they
could see history through the eyes of those they read about. In the history books, most of the
names are our founding fathers, and rightly so, but we should never forget the women who stood
by their side during the framing of this mighty nation. Sure everyone knows about Betsy Ross,
who stitched up the first American Flag, and Abigail Adams, known as Mrs. President, but what
about the other amazing women who helped form our country? Those women, who proudly, and
more or less carefully, helped make the patchwork quilt of America, formed their own little
patterns and blocks in this immense quilt of a nation. It seems unjust that their fabric is fading,
almost completely. I believe though, that we can revive them, give them new life, by washing it
in the flow of our memories.
Take a moment in your mind and travel back to the tumultuous time of the Revolutionary
War. You see a woman, watching in horror and disbelief as her husband becomes another
casualty of war. With the battle raging on, there's no time to mourn the loss. Where many women
would have lost themselves to their grief, she steps into his shoes and takes over his job of
loading and firing cannons. Can you see her courage, her strength, her sadness? Diligently she
works, likely in a state of numbness, until she herself is shot and left for dead on the battlefield.
As fate would have it, a doctor discovers her shortly after the battle, and does all that is in his
power to save her. She did survive, but not without suffering permanent disablement. This
woman’s name was Margaret Corbin. She was very brave and sacrificed so much, but Margaret
is rarely remembered for her selfless actions. Sadly, this has happened too many times to women
of the American Revolution. Many valiant women fought heroically in battle, and many paid the
ultimate price for their country. Margaret’s quilt pattern is red for the blood shed that day and the
sacrifices made. Gray curls throughout the fabric, as the smoke curled on the battlefield. A dark
blue border represents her bravery.
Another spirited young woman, and an entertaining one at that, was Nancy Hart. She
supported the Patriots’ cause full-heartedly, and wasn’t afraid of announcing it in the presence of
the British. Once, several British soldiers arrived at her house. Assuming she was a fearful,
helpless woman, they demanded she make them a meal. They realized their mistake too late as
she pulled out her loaded rifle. Two of the British went down, sending the rest in a panic to get
away. Another day, Nancy heard that the Patriots desperately needed inside information about
the enemy. She disguised herself as a crazy, harmless old man and wandered through the British
camp gathering vital information for the Patriots’ cause. I imagine her giggling quietly as she
hustled out of the camp that night, her mind filled with secret plans. Nancy's quilt pattern is
pastel blues and pinks, how the British perceived her, and a purple fringe wrapping around the
border, the reality of her personality, rich with boldness and loyalty for what she believed in.
Different sized squares scattered across the fabric represent the secret plans she helped uncover.
Finally, we must not forget Deborah Sampson, although she wasn’t known as her real
name for several years. In fact, most people knew her as a man. She had bigger dreams and ideas
than many others in her town, and she had no interest in the farm life of her childhood. Taking
the name Timothy Thayer, she bound her chest in cloth and cut her hair short. After only a few
months, her trick was unveiled when she failed to report to duty. She wasn’t ready to call it quits
though, still feeling she could do more to make a difference to her world. Deborah re-enlisted in
May 1782 as Robert Shurtliffe. She fought for her country for years, participating in many
battles, until she was wounded. Some say she was shot in her shoulder, and some say her thigh,
but it’s certain she came down with a bad fever. A physician discovered her secret. Deborah
recovered fully and was honorably discharged from the army. She returned home, satisfied and
feeling proud of her accomplishments. Deborah’s quilt pattern is covered in red stripes;
symbolizing the lines she crossed time and time again to follow her dreams. These lines create a
barrier between a man’s role and a woman’s role in the society of the late 1700‘s.
In this quilt we call America, every stitch is a sacrifice and every block is a story. The
batting in the middle contains the hopes and dreams of every American, and the binding is the
principles of liberty and freedom on which our country was built. The cost has been too great for
us to just throw our history on a shelf in the closet. We need to spread it out and encourage the
current and future generations to wrap themselves in it and enjoy the warmth, comfort and
strength it can bring.
Courtney, Gillian. "Contributions of Women during the American Revolution ." lhric.org. Stony
Point Battlefield State Historic Site, 1299 Mar 1999. Web. 2 Jan 2013.
Ellis, Joseph, and Joseph Ellis. America Creation. 1st ed. Alfred A. Knopf: Random House,
."Women and the Revolutionary War." History Central. N.p.. Web. 2 Jan 2013.
. "Women of the Revolutionary Wary." Illinois State University. N.p.. Web. 2 Jan 2013.
Zitek, Carl. "Women of the American Revolution." http://score.rims.k12.ca.us. Jurupa Unified
School District, 18 Apr 2011. Web. 19 December 2013.