Special to Atmore News
The Fort Mims Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution held their April meeting April 20, at the Stockton Presbyterian Church. Nancy Karrick presented a program on Women Patriots. Dressed in a Colonial dress, Karrick told the story of patriots who served the American cause as women disguised as male soldiers, nurses, spies, camp followers who mended clothes, cooked meals, and cleaned up the camp area so the men could spend their time either resting or fighting the British, and as providers of goods and food items. Rather than elaborate on the famous women patriots Karrick chose to tell the stories of the unknown patriots who contributed so much to the fight for freedom.
Deborah Samson was wounded in the thigh and forehead but refused to have a doctor examine her, except for the head injury, because she was disguised as a man. She slipped away from the hospital, and with a penknife, opened the wound to remove a bullet. One remained in her leg because she could not reach it. She then used her sewing needle to close the wound. While the leg never completely healed, she was able to continue fighting until the end of the war when she developed a “brain fever.” This fever had symptoms which are very much like those of PTSD today. The doctor looked for a pulse, but could not find a strong one. He then put his hand inside the soldier’s coat, only to discover the chest was very hard. This proved to be because the soldier had bound her chest to give a more male appearance. The doctor arranged for an honorable discharge and money for her to get back home. In 1805, Congress voted to give her a pension as a war veteran.
The surprise part of the story was that the doctor’s daughter was in love with the soldier, whom she thought was a man. The doctor was aware of that situation, and did all he could to help the soldier leave with honor. Obviously, the love story ended there with the discovery the doctor made.
Also portrayed was the first female playwright in America, Mercy Warren, the woman who printed the Declaration of Independence and listed her name as the printer, Mary Katharine Goddard, and Mary Draper, who helped feed the troops as they marched past her house by placing food and drink on a table in her front yard.
Two special patriots were Karrick’s patriot, Mary Roberts, and her friend Stacey Olsen’s patriot, Marya Van Sickelen. Olsen, who lives in Minnesota, was helpful in finding and sending maps of the area in South Carolina where Mary Roberts lived, plus marking it with battles fought in the area. With friends, family, and neighbors involved in battles right around their homes, it is no wonder that Mary gave them two cows. She, like Marya, who supplied and stored flour in her barn in New York for the patriot troops, became patriots because they supplied food goods to the Continental soldiers.
Attending from Atmore besides Nancy Karrick were Linda Ellison, Cathy Irby, Barbara Williams, and potential member Pat Bonner.