Nancy Hart, the War Woman of Georgia
AMONG the remarkable women of the Revolution was Nancy Hart, the sturdy wife of a farmer. She lived in a log cabin, in one of the counties of Georgia. She was very muscular, was six feet tall, cross-eyed, and had a vicious temper. She hated the Tories, who were the American sympathizers with the British, and never lost an opportunity to show her feeling for them.
There are many stories told of the courage of Nancy Hart. One evening she and her children were sitting around a log fire, over which a pot of soap was hanging. Nancy was stirring the boiling soap with a big ladle, and was telling the children some exciting adventures of the war. Suddenly, one of the children heard some one creeping up to the house, and noticed an eye peeping through the cracks between the logs. "Tories, mother, Tories," whispered the child.
Nancy nodded, but went on talking and stirring the soap, while she kept a sharp lookout for the eyes. Suddenly, she dashed a ladle of the scalding soap through the crack full into the face of the eavesdropper, who, taken by surprise and blinded with pain, roared at a great rate!
Nancy soon had him bound, hand and foot, and hastened to turn him over to the Patriots.
When the Tories were overrunning Georgia, Nancy one day heard the tramp of a horse rapidly approaching her cabin. It was a Patriot riding for life, pursued by a party of British. She let down the bars of the fence before her cabin, ordered the man to go around to the back, and disappear, if he had time, in the woods. She then put up the bars, closed the door of her cabin, and waited.
In a few moments some Tories rode up, and called out noisily to her. She wrapped her head up in an old shawl and, opening the door cautiously, asked, in a complaining voice, why they wanted to disturb a sick, lone woman.
"Have you seen or heard anybody on horseback pass this way?" they demanded.
"No," replied Nancy, "but I saw some one on a sorrel horse turn into the woods a little way up the road."
"That is our man," they said, and rode away in search of him.
"What fools!" exclaimed Nancy. "If they had looked at the ground, instead of at me, they could have seen the tracks of a horse coming up to my house, and leading around to the swamp."
Not long afterwards, a party of five or six Tories, who had been on a murder expedition in a neighboring county, reached Nancy Hart's cabin. Entering boldly, they demanded food. Nancy's husband and the other members of her family were away at work in the fields, and Nancy was alone, except for one little girl.
She replied, "I never feed the King's men. The villains have stolen my chickens and killed my pigs, so that I can hardly feed my own family. I haven't anything but that old turkey."
"Well, that you shall cook for us," said one of the Tories; and, raising his gun, he fired at the turkey, which fell dead. Another Tory brought it to the house, and soon it was clean and ready. So Nancy put it on to cook, and sent her little daughter to the spring for water.
"Tell your father and the others to come quickly; there are Tories in the house," she whispered to the child.
Soon the turkey was ready to eat. The Tories began drinking and singing, and boasted of their exploits in killing several Patriots a few days before. Nancy recognized the names of these victims as persons she knew, and her blood was hot with rage. The soldiers had stacked their guns in one corner, and now drew near the table, ready for the meal. Nancy waited on them, frequently passing between them and their guns in the corner.
Suddenly, the brave woman seized one of the weapons, and pointed it at the party. They sprang up in terror, while she swore she would shoot the first man that moved a foot. One of them started forward, and, true to her word, she fired and killed him where he stood.
By this time the little girl had returned from the spring, and Nancy called out to her, "Go, call your father and the neighbors. Tell them I have caught some base Tories." The child ran to the fields, while the men, in alarm, tried to seize the intrepid woman. She fired again, and another man fell badly wounded.
Before the others could escape, Nancy's husband and some of the neighbors rushed in, and bound the Tories hand and foot. The neighbors would have shot them, but Nancy said, "No! shooting is too good for the base murderers. They must hang for their crimes!"
This was enough. It was not long before they were all hanging to a tree, which was pointed out to passersby, for fifty years afterwards, as the spot where Nancy Hart avenged the death of her countrymen.