Sally St. Clair
Sally St. Clair (birth date unknown-1782; also spelled St. Clare) was an American woman from South Carolina who disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army. Her true gender was not discovered until after she was killed in battle during the Siege of Savannah in 1782.
Little is known about St. Clair. She is variously described as a Creole woman, a woman of color, and a woman of African and French descent. By some accounts she joined the army to be with her lover, a sergeant. She may have served as a gunner. Several sources claim she was killed during the Battle of Savannah in 1778.
"Romantic Victorians" such as George Pope Morris claimed that even her lover did not recognize her until after she was killed and her body was prepared for burial. Morris's poem about St. Clair begins:
In the ranks of Marion's band,
Through morass and wooded land,
Over beach of yellow sand,
Mountain, plain and valley;
A southern maid, in all her pride,
March'd gayly at her lover's side,
In such disguise
That e'en his eyes
Did not discover Sally.
Morris describes St. Clair as a "beautiful, dark-eyed Creole girl" with "long, jetty ringlets," and claims that she died of a lance thrust aimed at her lover, Sergeant Jasper. He goes on to say that "there was not a dry eye in the corps when Sally St. Clair was laid in her grave, near the River Santee, in a green shady nook that looked as if it had been stolen out of Paradise."
Warren Wildwood tells her story in similarly picturesque terms in Thrilling Adventures Among the Early Settlers (1866).
- Berkin, Carol (2007). Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 61. ISBN 9780307427496.
- "Revolutionary Women - In more ways than one" (PDF). 1996.
- Crow, Tracy (2017). It's My Country Too: Women's Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. University of Nebraska Press. p. 20. ISBN 9781612348315.
- Booth, Sally Smith (1973). The Women of '76. Hastings House. ISBN 9780803880665.
- Morris, George Pope (1843). The Deserted Bride: And Other Poems. New York: D. Appleton. pp. 87–88, 172.
- Wildwood, Warren (1866). "The Romance of War.—Sergeant Jasper and Sally St. Clair". Thrilling Adventures Among the Early Settlers. Philadelphia: J. Edwin Potter. pp. 78–81.
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