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NH Women in the Revolution

Women of the American Revolution

We see so few females faces in the American Revolution. Finding images of revolutionary women is difficult even today. But they were there, participating at nearly every level and dominating the work behind the scenes. Seacoast historian Olive Tardiff offers this survey of the women from the Granite State who participated in the birth of America.



INCLUDES: Abigail Cilley Butler, Mrs. Thomas Morison, Polly Locke, Anna Sibley, Molly Stark, Abigail Marston, Mary Bartlett, Sarah Rawlings, Martha Harris, Mary Hall, Sarah Rawlings, Abigail Butler, Abigail Reid and others.

WHEN THE DREAD CRY, "The British are out!" rang throughout the countryside after the fighting at Lexington and Concord, patriotic women immediately set to work getting their men ready to leave for battle. They had no idea that long years of loneliness, sacrifice, and hard work lay ahead. They saw that a job had to be done and went at it with their usual vigor.

On the very day that news of fighting came to Antrim nearly all the men left for Cambridge. The women of the town had to work all night preparing food and clothing to be taken next day to husbands and sons. Perhaps it was fortunate that Col. Stark already had his quota for the First New Hampshire Regiment by the time the Antrim men arrived at Winter Hill, for he promptly sent them home to finish planting their crops.

Matthew Patten, judge of probate and justice of the peace in Bedford, wrote in his diary that after receiving the news, his oldest son John was determined to fight; and added, "our Girls sit up all night baking bread and fitting things for him and John Dobbin." Abigail Cilley Butler, wife of the keeper of Butler Tavern in Nottingham, with the help of her daughters carded, spun, wove and sewed through the night so that her husband and two sons would have enough clothes for their march toward Cam bridge, which began at four in the morning.

Mrs. Thomas Morison's husband, son, and hired man left on foot from Peterborough leading a horse that carried saddlebags stuffed with her freshly baked bread and a good supply of pork. The wife of Capt. Levi Spaulding of Lyndborough helped make paper cartridges for the sixty men in his company to take with them on their journey.

Polly Locke of New Ipswich, later known as New Hampshire's champion weaver, was determined that her 16 year-old brother John should have the new pantaloons he needed in order to set out for military service. Legend says she cut fleeces from a white sheep and a black sheep, cleansed and carded the wool, spun the yarn, washed and then dried it. Within forty hours from the time she began to shear the sheep, John was on his way, suitably dressed for soldiering.


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