Women of the Revolutionary War - Nancy Morgan Hart

April 25, 2016

Women of the Revolutionary War - Nancy Morgan Hart

Nancy Ann Hart (née Morgan) was born in 1735 in North Carolina to her parents Thomas and Rebecca Morgan (née Alexander). She came from a family line of well-known figures in our nation's history, including General Daniel Morgan (her cousin and Revolutionary War hero) and Daniel Boone. Around the year 1760, she met and married Benjamin Hart.

In her mid-30s, the 1770s, she and her family moved to Georgia, to the region of Elberton. Their home was near the Broad River and they owned more than 400 acres of the land, with some of it along the banks of the Wahatchee Creek. The name of the creek, meaning War Woman, was said to be named for Nancy by local Native Americans. Though this may not be true as the name for the creek seems to have existed before she moved there.

Nancy Hart
Nancy Morgan Hart and Sukey against the Tories
By Illustrator not credited. [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Nancy Morgan Hart was a intimidating red-haired woman who stood over 6 feet tall. Her face was scarred from getting smallpox when she was younger. She was also hard-headed and could stand up to and swear with the best of men. Due to this, she became notorious in her area and also respected by many. Before the Revolutionary War, she learned to shoot well and to do the job of a doctor, treating her family members and neighbors when needed. She grew a garden of medicinal herbs to help her in her doctoring. She was also a very patriotic women and was very anti-Tory. She ran her farm as her husband spied on the Tories . She'd also done the same on a few occasions by playing a role of a stupid person and spying on Tories in their own camps. Another time, she gained information, for the Continental Army, while posing as a seller peddling houseware and eggs. She also got information for Major General Benjamin Lincoln and Henry Lee III.

What earned her status as a heroine of the Revolutionary War was on a day when she was doing work around their homestead, along with her 13-year-old daughter Sukey, when some Tory soldiers showed up at their home and demanded to be fed. Nancy went on to tell them that they only had one living turkey since previous Tory soldiers came and took turkeys. So, in response, the Tories took her last turkey and shot it and told her to cook it. She had no choice but to cook the turkey since it was clear that they were not leaving. As she cooked, she told stories to the Tories to put them at ease as they drank. While eating and drinking some more, Nancy saw that they relaxed enough and sent her daughter out to get water from their well. Before her daughter left the home, she whispered to her to blow their conch shell horn by the well to alert their neighbors that they needed some help. The sound alerted her Nancy's husband Benjamin, who was at work nearby, It also alerted their neighbors at the same time.

This is while Nancy, still in the house, was carefully gathering the Tories guns and concealing them in her skirts and then sliding them out through openings in their walls that were used to shoot through in defense of the home, during Indian raids and other assaults on their home. Unfortunately, what she was doing was seen by one of the soldiers and they tried to pull their guy, thinking that Nancy wasn't watching. He was quickly shot by Nancy. Another soldier tried to pull his gun and was shot by Nancy, all the same. Help finally arrived, her husband and the neighbors, and then they were about to shoot at the Tories. It's said that Nancy decided shooting them would be too good for them. Especially after her hearing that they shot a neighbor of hers, Colonel John Dooly. They took the Tory soldiers behind her home and hung them all from a tree.

The incident was never written down and was instead passed along as some tall tale. That is until around 150 years after the incident, in 1922, the burial spots of the Tory soldiers were discovered when ground was being graded for the railroad.

Today, the burial site and a replica of Nancy's cabin, built on the same site as the original in the 1930s, are part of a 5-acre park in Elberton, Georgia. In nearby Hartwell stands a statue of Nancy Morgan Hart. There's also a section of a highway named in her honor and the county of Hart was also named in her memory.

More about Nancy Morgan Hart:

Feisty Females: Nancy Morgan Hart, War Woman
Nancy Hart Revolutionary Heroine
Nancy Hart 1735-1830 "Poor Nancy-she was a honey of a patriot, but the devil of a wife!"
Northeast Georgia Mountains / Elberton - Nancy Hart Log Cabin
Hart, Nancy Morgan  - American Revolution Reference Library, 2000 From U.S. History in Context

Nancy and Benjamin Hart's Children: 
Sons: Morgan, John, Thomas, Benjamin, Lemuel, and Mark
Daughters: Sarah, Keziah, and Sukey.