Women in 18th-century warfare

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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 18th century.


Timeline of women in warfare from 18th century warfare worldwide[edit]

18th century[edit]

1710s[edit]

  • 1710s: During the Great Northern War, Maria Faxell, the wife of a vicar, defends her village against a Norwegian attack by handing out old weapons to both men and women during her husband's absence.[9]
  • 1711–1721: Ingela Gathenhielm operates the Swedish Privateering fleet jointly with her husband during the Great Northern War; when widowed in 1718, she continues herself.[10]
  • 1712-1714: Anna Jöransdotter from Finland serves in the Swedish army under the named Johan Haritu. [11]
  • 1712-1717: Three unnamed females are discovered to have served in the Dutch Marines dressed as males.[7]
  • 1713-1721: Margareta Elisabeth Roos is said to have served in the Swedish army.[12]
  • 1713-1726: Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar serves in the Swedish army under Charles XII of Sweden during the Great Northern War [13]
  • 1713-1714: Annika Svahn, as well as several other enslaved Finnish women taken captive by the Russians, are forced to participate in the Russian conquest of Swedish Finland on the battle fields during the Greater Wrath dressed in Russian dragoon uniforms.[14]
  • 1715: Two unnamed women are rumored among the soldiers to serve in the Swedish army, one of them a wife of one of the soldiers, who by this point was to have served for a period of four years.[15]
  • 1716: Norwegian Anna Colbjørnsdatter is granted the success in the victory over the Swedes at the Battle of Norderhov in Norway during the Great Northern War 29 March 1716 by capturing 600 Swedish soldiers.[16]
  • 1716: Norwegian Kari Hiran averts the Swedish attempt to conquer Norway by feeding them false information about the size of the Norwgian army.[17]
  • 1716-1718: Hangbe in the Kingdom of Dahomey becomes the regent after her twin brother Akaba is killed. Oral traditions say that when Akaba died, she put on his armour and acted in his place for the rest of war in the Ouémé River valley.[citation needed]
  • 1719: Brita Olsdotter, an old Swedish woman, meets the Russian army, who marches against Linköping after having burnt Norrköping, and makes them turn around and leave after telling them that reinforcements were arriving to assist Linköping.[18]

1720s[edit]

  • 1720–1739: Granny Nanny, a spiritual leader of the Maroons of Jamaica, leads rebel slaves in First Maroon War against the British.[19]
  • 1721: Comtesse de Polignac, preciously the lover of Duc de Richelieu, fight a duel with her rival and successor, the Marchioness de Nesle. [20]
  • 1722: Six unnamed females are shipped back to the Netherlands after having been exposed to have served as males in either the Dutch Marines or army in an attempt to emigrate to the Dutch East Indies.[7]
  • 1723: Lumke Thoole serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a male under the name Jan Theunisz.[7]
  • 1725: Dutch woman Maria ter Meetelen serves in the Spanish army dressed as a man.[21]
  • 1726: Maria Elisabeth Meening serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[7]

1730s[edit]

  • 1732: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[7]

1740s[edit]

1750s[edit]

  • 1750: Maria Sophia Stording serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[28]
  • 1751: Two unnamed soldiers of the Dutch navy are discovered to be females dressed as males.[29]
  • 1754: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch army dressed as a man.[30]
  • 1755: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[31]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1756: Soldier Jochem Wiesse of the Dutch army are discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[32]
  • 1757: Sailor "Arthur Douglas" is revealed to be a woman. Her birth-name is unknown.[33]
  • 1757: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch army dressed as a man.[34]
  • 1757-58: Two unnamed females serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a males.[35]
  • 1759-1771: Mary Lacy serves as a Marine carpenter under the name of "William Chandler".[36]

1760s[edit]

  • 1760s: Petronella van den Kerkhof possibly serve in the Dutch army as a grenadier: however, as she was not discovered during service, this is unconfirmed [37]
  • 1760s: Hannah Witneg serves in the Royal Marines while disguised as a man from 1756 to 1761. She is noted for serving with "fortitude and valor".[citation needed]
  • 1760: Petronella van der Kerkhof serve in the Dutch grenadiers dressed as a male.[38]
  • 1760-1761: A woman serves in the British Marines as "William Prothero".[33]
  • 1762: Rafaela Herrera inspires the outnumbered Spanish defenders to victory during a 1762 British siege of the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception in El Castillo village within El Castillo municipality, Nicaragua.[39]
  • 1763: After the assassination of her husband Diego, Filipina Gabriela Silang decided to continue his rebellion in Ilocos against Spain but was unsuccessful.[40]
  • 1764: The Dutch soldier Tiesheld is discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[41]
  • 1765: A unnamed member of the Dutch navy is discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[42]
  • 1767-1795: Reign of Ahilyabai Holkar, Indian queen of the Malwa kingdom. She personally led troops into battle.[citation needed]
  • 1768: Birth of Mah Laqa Bai. Due to her archery skills, she accompanied the Nizam II (Mir Nizam Ali Khan) in three wars;[43]
  • 1769: Anna Sophia Spiesen serve in the Dutch army dressed as a male under the name Claas Paulusse.[44]

1770s[edit]

  • 1770s: Cherokee woman Cuhtahlatah causes her people to rally in battle by attacking the enemy after her husband was killed.[citation needed]
  • 1770-1771: Margareta Reymers serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man: she is discovered by her pregnancy. [45]
  • 1772: Mademoiselle de Guignes and Mademoiselle d'Aguillon fight a duel in Paris.[46]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1775: On Dec. 11, 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.[47]
  • 1776-1782: During the American Revolution, women served on the battlefield as nurses, water bearers, cooks, launderers and saboteurs.[48]
  • 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.[49]
  • 1777, April, 26: Sybil Ludington warns colonists that the British were burning the city of Danbury, Connecticut during the American Revolution.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1778: Baltazara Chuiza leads a rebellion against the Spanish in Ecuador.[50]
  • 1778-1781: Ann Bates serves as a spy for the British loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.[citation needed]
  • 1778: Sikh princess Bibi Rajindar Kaur leads 3,000 soldiers to rescue her cousin who was defeated by Hari Singh.[citation needed]
  • 1778-1803: The ruling Princess of Sardhana, Begum Samru (Johanna Noblis), leads her armies in war.[citation needed]

1780s[edit]

  • 1780: Rani Velu Nachiar of Sivagangai Poligar leads a female army against the British in India.[51]
  • 1780: Manuela Beltrán organizes a peasant revolt in Colombia.[citation needed]
  • 1780: Ñusta Huillac of the Kolla tribe rebels against the Spanish in Chile.[citation needed]
  • 1780-1781: Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua recruits and leads men and women in battle during a rebellion against the Spanish rule in Peru. She is eventually captured and executed by the Spanish.[52]
  • 1780-1781: Maria van Spanje serve in the Dutch navy for eight months dressed as a male: she is discovered while trying to repeat this when enlisting anew in 1782 [53]
  • 1781: Lena Catharina Wasmoet serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man under the name Claas Waal.[54]
  • 1780s: Swedish runaway Carin du Rietz becomes a soldier at the royal guard. [55]
  • 1781: Gregoria Apaza, an Aymara woman, leads an uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia.[56]
  • 1781: Margaret Thompson serves in the British Marines under the name George Thompson.[citation needed]
  • 1781: A female known as "Miss Jenny" serves as a spy for the British during the American Revolutionary War.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1782: Anna Maria Everts serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[57]
  • 1782: Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara woman who led an indigenous uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia, is captured and executed.[58]
  • 1783: Johanna Dorothea Heeght serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man under the name Johannes Hegt.[59]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • October 25, 1785: Toypurina, a Tongva medicine woman, rebels against the Spanish, leading an attack against Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.[citation needed]
  • 1787-1807: A woman serves twenty years in the British Marines under the name "Tom Bowling"[33]
  • 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. [60]
  • 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.Kvinnorna och kriget. [61]
  • 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.[62]
  • 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 [63]
  • 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.[citation needed]

1790s[edit]

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).

References[edit]

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External links[edit]