South Carolina Women of the American Revolution

From, the founding Of the first English settlement in the new world the women of America have bravely and nobly done their part in making our country a great nation. It is true that the pages of history are filled with the stories of the deeds of men, while not many names of women are recorded. The reason for this is that women's work for the most part has been done quietly and inconspicuously. The home has been her kingdom , and until recent years there was no place for her in public life. To men were left the making of wars, the administration of government, and leadership of movements affecting communities and states. But even before she entered public life women's part in the making of our history was very important. Her influence was and is felt everywhere, because in most cases man's deeds or actions are but products of his early training end environment. All down the years of history our country has been a land of happy homes due to the faith, courage and intelligence of the wives and mothers. Our women showed unsurpassed courage and patriotism during the revolutionary War. They often endured hardships at home equal to those of the soldiers in the field. They raised food for the armies, made clothes and bandages for the soldiers, and nursed the sick and wounded, while their hearts were sad and anxious for the safety of husbands, sons, brothers, and other relatives and friends.

We are justly proud of One of Calhoun County's own fair daughters Rebecca Brewton Motte (link is to known genealogy of Mrs. Motte). She was the daughter of Robert Brewton, an English gentleman who settled in Charles Town, S. C. In 1758 Rebecca married Jacob Motte, and Buckhead, later Fort Motte, situated on the south side of the Congaree became her summer residence. After the Americans gained Camden, Lord Rawdon turned his attention to Fort Motte and made Mrs. Mott's home their post and surrounded it with a deep trench end inside raised a strong and lofty parapet. Mrs. Motte was forced to occupy a nearby farm house. Soon the Americans saw that the home must be burned. When Mrs. Motte heard this, she declared that she was "gratified" with the opportunity of contributing to the good of her country. Mrs. Motte had in her possession a bow and several arrows brought from the East Indies and especially prepared to carry combustible material. Nathan Savage, a private in Marion's brigade, shot the arrows which set fire to the roof in three different places. The British were then forced to surrender; soldiers from both armies climbed to the roof and extinguished the fire. After the fire Mrs. Motte served McPherson, the British leader, and his officers dinner in her usual dignified and affable manner.

(The sketch on the right is from South Carolina, A History, p243, caption: Rebecca Motte and Francis Marion, May 1781.  Cecil Hartley, The Life of Francis Marion (1866).  Courtesy, South Caroliniana Library, USC, Columbia.)

Mrs. Motte had no son to serve in the American army and had lost her husband in the early part of the war; but she sent all her male slaves, properly equipped at her own expense, to defend Charles Town and to serve her country. After the war, her fortune was gone. Undaunted she persevered until all her indebtedness was paid, and she had a handsome and unencumbered estate to leave her heirs. At her home on the Santee in 1815, this noble, virtuous, useful and lovable Woman passed away.

As one thinks of these noble women, he cannot but think of the countless others whose names and deeds are lost in oblivion. He is forced to remember the immortal lines of Gray:

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

References:

The Simms History of South Carolina - Oliphant

South Carolina Reader -Oliphant

Days of the Colonists -Lamprey

The Beginner's History of our Country -Estill

History, Stories, and Legends of South Carolina -E. C. McCants

Benson J. Lossing. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1852. (courtesy of, and thanks to, H. Imrey.)

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This material was graciously submitted by Ms. Sara Texas Geiger-Geiger for inclusion on this web page at my request.  All material so attributed to her is copyright ©2000 Ms. Sara Texas Geiger-Geiger, all rights reserved.  Many thanks to Helen Skinner for obtaining and mailing this material!

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