Orphaned at 9, Elizabeth "Betsy" Hagar became of all things a blacksmith's helper, working for Samuel Leverett in Concord, Massachusetts. When they fired The Shot Heard Round The World at Concord, she gave her all to the cause.
Including her underclothes.
Born in Massachusetts on June 4, 1755, Hagar had to fend for herself at an early age. She worked as a domestic servant early on, which was nice honest work.
Eventually she became Leverett's assistant and she was quite deft at the blacksmith's trade. Rosie the Riveter paled compared to Betsey the Blacksmith. As the Revolutionary War neared, Leverett and Hagar made and refurbished firearms on the sly. The Second Amendment would not come around until nearly two decades later.
At Concord, the British left six nice brass cannon, but spiked them. The Patriots took them to Leverett's shop where they drilled and filled the cannon and made them good as new. Six weeks later, the cannon were good to go.
She also made ammunition for the Continental Army. When she ran out of flannel for this purpose, well, who needs undergarments? Thank goodness she did not wear a thong. After the battles, she also nursed the wounded.
Her heroics also led to love and romance. John Pratt, one of the Minutemen she and Leverett helped arm, fell in love with her when she went to Concord to tend the wounded. In fact, she likely was the one who spotted at least some if not all the abandoned cannon.
After the war, they married. They had eight children, all of whom survived to adulthood, a rarity for the time. She died on died July 12, 1843, at 88, after more than 50 years of marriage. Her husband survived her and died at 90.
Her memory lives on. The Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Grand Island, New York, is the Betsy Hagar DAR. Her story shows that the Revolution was more than a few men in breeches giving speeches in Philadelphia. There was popular support among people of all classes -- and both sexes.
My first collection of "Exceptional Americans" is available here. And the Kindle version is here.