Women in warfare and the military (1750–99)

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Active warfare throughout recorded history has predominantly involved male combatants, however women have also contributed to military activities including as combatants. The following list describes women known to have participated in military actions in the latter half of the 18th century.

Timeline of women in warfare from 1750 until 1799 worldwide[edit]


  • 1755: Cherokee leader Nancy Ward fights side-by-side with her husband at the Battle of Taliwa. When her husband is killed, she picked up his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory.
  • 1757: Sailor "Arthur Douglas" is revealed to be a woman. Her birth-name is unknown[1]
  • 1759-1771: Mary Lacy serves as a Marine carpenter under the name of "William Chandler".[2]



  • 1770s: During the American Revolution, women served on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks, launderers and saboteurs.[5]
  • 1770s: Cherokee woman Cuhtahlatah causes her people to rally in battle by attacking the enemy after her husband was killed.[6]
  • 1770s: Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, the mother of Andrew Jackson, treats and nurses sick and wounded Continental soldiers in American Revolutionary War on British prison ship, dying of cholera as a result.
  • 1770-1771: Margareta Reymers serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man: she is discovered by her pregnancy [7]
  • 1772: Mademoiselle de Guignes and Mademoiselle d'Aguillon fight a duel in France.
  • 1775: On Dec. 11, 1775, Jemima Warner was killed by an enemy bullet during the siege of Quebec. Mrs. Warner had originally accompanied her husband, PVT James Warner of Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, to Canada because she feared that he would become sick on the campaign trail and she wanted to nurse him. When PVT Warner eventually died in the wilderness en route to Quebec, Mrs. Warner buried him and stayed with the battalion as a cook.[8]
  • November 16, 1776: Margaret Corbin assists her husband in manning the cannons while fighting the British in battle in the American Revolutionary War. When her husband is killed, she mans the cannons alone. She later became the first woman to earn a military pension.[9]
  • April 26, 1777: Sybil Ludington warns colonists that the British were burning the city of Danbury, Connecticut during the American Revolution.
  • 1777: Mademoiselle Leverriére fights a duel with a man in France.
  • 1778: Baltazara Chuiza leads a rebellion against the Spanish in Ecuador.[10]
  • 1778: Sikh princess Bibi Rajindar Kaur leads 3,000 soldiers to rescue her cousin who was defeated by Hari Singh.
  • 1778: Molly Pitcher (born Mary Ludwig in 1754) married John Hays in 1769. Her husband fought for the Continental Army at the Battle of Monmouth (New Jersey) on June 28, 1778. During the battle, she brought pitchers of water to her husband and fellow soldiers, thus earning the appellation Molly Pitcher. When her husband succumbed to exhaustion, she picked up his rifle and fought against the British.
  • 1778: Ann Bates serves as a spy for the British loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.


  • 1780: Rani Velu Nachiar of Sivagangai Poligar leads a female army against the British in India.
  • 1780: Manuela Beltrán organizes a peasant revolt in Colombia.[11]
  • 1780: Huillac Ñusca of the Kolla tribe rebels against the Spanish in Chile.
  • 1780: Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua recruits and leads both genders in battle during a rebellion against the Spanish rule in Peru.
  • 1780-1781: Maria van Spanje serve in the Dutch navy for eight months dressed as a man: she is discovered while trying to repeat this when enlisting anew in 1782 [12]
  • 1780s: Swedish runaway Carin du Rietz becomes a soldier at the royal guard.
  • 1781: Gregoria Apaza, an Aymara woman, leads an uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia.
  • 1781: A French-Canadian woman called "Miss Jenny" serves as a spy for the British during the American Revolutionary War .
  • 1781: Margaret Thompson serves in the British Marines under the name George Thompson.
  • 1781: Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, leader of an indigenous uprising in Peru, is executed by the Spanish.
  • 1781: Kate Barry warns the American militia that the British were approaching before the Battle of Cowpens. Her warning gives the colonists enough time to prepare and win the battle.
  • 1782: Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara woman who led an indigenous uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia, is captured and executed.
  • 1782-1783: Deborah Sampson serves in the American army during the American Revolutionary War while disguised as a man. She is the first known American woman to join the military, the first to fight in combat, and the first to receive a military pension.
  • 1785: According to Thai legend, Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon, two sisters, help repel a Burmese invasion of Thailand by dressing as male soldiers and rallying the troops.
  • October 25, 1785: Toypurina, a Tongva medicine woman, rebels against the Spanish, leading an attack against Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.
  • 1787-1807: A woman serves twenty years in the British Marines under the name "Tom Bowling"[1]
  • 1787 : The wife of the German colonel Schutz is reported to have accompanied her spouse dressed as a male in warfare and having been wounded two times in Russian service. [13]
  • 1788-1790 : After the war between Russia and Sweden, several of the soldiers decorated in the Swedish army are discovered to be women in disguise. One of them is Brita Hagberg, who enlisted in search of her husband; she is given a military pension.
  • 1788-1790 : During the Russo-Swedish war, Anna Maria Engsten, after a battle at sea, singlehandedly steers one of the boats back to Sweden after having been left alone onboard after its evacuation; she is decorated for bravery at sea.[14]
  • 1788-1790 : During the Battle of Svensksund, Dorothea Maria Lösch takes command of a Swedish ship and is rewarded with the rank of captain of the Swedish fleet [15]
  • 1789: Female revolutionary Anne Josephe Theroigne de Mericourt leads the storming of the Bastille in Paris at the beginning of the French Revolution. She also leads female troops in 1792-1793.


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cook, Bernard, ed. Women and War: Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present (2006).
  • Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Women and War (1995)
  • Elshtain Jean, and Sheila Tobias, eds. Women, Militarism, and War (1990)
  • Mayer, Holly A. Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution (University of South Carolina Press, 1996)
  • Jones, David. Women Warriors: A History (Brassey's, 1997)
  • Martino-Trutor, Gina Michelle. "Her Extraordinary Sufferings and Services”: Women and War in New England and New France, 1630-1763" PhD Dissertation, U of Minnesota, 2012. online
  • Pennington, Reina. Amazons to Fighter Pilots: A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women (2003).
  • Salmonson, Jessica Amanda. The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era (1991).


  1. ^ a b c Suzanne J. Stark: Female tars: women aboard ship in the age of sail. Naval Institute Press, 1996
  2. ^ The Lady Tars: The Autobiographies of Hannah Snell, Mary Lacy and Mary Anne Talbot
  3. ^ Salmonson, Jessica Amanda (1991). The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. p. 270. 
  4. ^ Rajendra, Rajani (19 April 2013). "Glimpse into Mah Laqa’s life". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Women In Military Service For America Memorial
  6. ^ Salmonson, p. 65
  7. ^ Reymers, Margareta (ca. 1747-na 1771)
  8. ^ Women In Military Service For America Memorial
  9. ^ Education & Resources - National Women's History Museum - NWHM
  10. ^ Salmonson, p. 58
  11. ^ Salmonson, p. 32
  12. ^ Spanje, Maria van (1759?-na 1782)
  13. ^ Potemkin: Catherine the Great's Imperial Partner, 2005 (Swedish edition), p 445
  14. ^ 130 (Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor)
  15. ^ 250 (Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor)
  16. ^ Beth Hill,Cathy Converse: The Remarkable World of Frances Barkley: 1769-1845
  17. ^ Women and War: A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present. Bernard A. Cook

External links[edit]