Sunday, January 11, 2015

Nancy Ann Morgan Hart

Nancy Hart capturing six British soldiers in her home
  Nancy Ann Morgan Hart was born in western North Carolina in 1735. Shortly after she was born her family moved to northeastern Georgia. She was married at a young age to Benjamin Hart who was a descendant of future Tennessean and Senator from Missouri named Thomas Hart Benton. Nancy's first cousin was Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan. As an adult woman, by her own admission, she was homely. Nancy was severely scarred by smallpox and cross-eyed. However she was a hardy frontier woman standing six foot tall, which was not only tall for a man but extremely tall for a woman then. She was an excellent shot, feisty and hot headed. My kind of woman.

  When the Revolutionary War came to her neck of the woods Nancy was an ardent Whig and patriot. The indians had a name for her, "Wahatche" or "War Woman". She wanted to rid British sympathizers and Tories from the region. Hart would disguise herself as a man and infiltrate British encampments gathering information. She was thought to have fought in the battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779. Six British soldiers descended on her home one night demanding food. Nancy sat them down and began to feed them. While they were eating she grabbed her rifle and made them her prisoner. When she turned them over to the militia she demanded that they be hung for stealing her food. This story was believed by some to be a myth until six skeletons over one hundred years old were found near her home in 1912. Nancy lived with her husband and eight children in Georgia until her husband died in the late 1790's. In 1803 her oldest son moved her and the family to Henderson County Kentucky. She would die there in 1830 at the age of 95. 

   On April 17, 1865, eight days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee, Union cavalry commander Colonel Oscar LaGrange came face to face with a sturdy band of women in line of battle named the Nancy Hart Militia, aka the Nancy Harts. Believe it or not the Nancy Hart's were defending LaGrange Georgia from Colonel LaGrange's army. The Nancy Hart militia had been organized in 1861 to protect the town. The women learned drill, ceremony, battle tactics and were excellent shots. They were led by Captain Nancy Morgan. The women were heavily armed when the cavalry arrived. The Nancy Hart's however were heavily outnumbered by the Union cavalry. A meeting was arranged between Captain Morgan and Colonel LaGrange. Due to the disparity in numbers Captain Morgan agreed to surrender the town. She charmed the Colonel into sparing the town from destruction. The women also acquired food for the Union Officers and provided medical care for wounded Union and Confederate soldiers that had been wounded in a nearby battle a couple of days earlier. Because of the Nancy Hart's Militia the Union Cavalry moved on to Macon saving the town from destruction. 
Captain Nancy Morgan

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