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Military and civilian officials routinely recruited supportive frontier residents who were familiar with a particular region and its inhabitants. Of special interest to commanders from both armies were the different native tribes that camped on or hunted throughout a potential battle venue. Left behind on the home front to manage families and farms, female settlers with a working knowledge of local tribal dialects and customs were eagerly sought as translators and guides. Adding to their appeal: these hardy women were already accustomed to the demanding and primitive living conditions that came to characterize military campaigns.

anne bailey
Anne Bailey
Photo Credit: American Revolution

Anne Bailey (1742-1825)

  • Frontier scout and courier.
  • Most known for a 1791, 100-mile ride from Fort Lee to Fort Savannah to save what today is known as Charleston, West Virginia, from an assault by Native Americans.

 

Sacagawea (c. 1787 – 1812)

  • Served as a scout and guide for the Lewis and Clark reconnaissance mission secretly ordered by Thomas Jefferson.
  • With her newborn son in tow, helped lead the explorers across territory comprising the Louisiana Purchase to the northern Pacific coast. 
  • Introduced members of expedition to naturally available vegetation that greatly enhanced their diets.
  • Acted as a translator between native tribes.
  • Managed to save much of the intelligence gathered during the mission from loss when the boat in which they were traveling capsized, depositing the explorers’ journals in a river.
sacagawea
Sacagawea
Photo Credit:U.S. Department of State
Click on image for larger view

As past and ongoing research underscores, women from all backgrounds and convictions played a critical role in the conduct and outcome of the American War for Independence. 

 

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