Sunday, July 05, 2015
The heroine of Cowpens.
As General Daniel Morgan prepared his cunning plan to defeat the British by using Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton's brashness against him, the general realized he did not have enough troops to carry out the plan. He had his marksmen, but he needed a large number of militia men. The wife of a militia captain, who had helped as both a scout and a spy volunteered to sound the alarm and round-up American soldiers.
Legend has it that Kate Barry tied her 2-year-old daughter to a bedpost, then rode out to get her husband, Captain Andrew Barry and the rest of the Patriots to join General Morgan at Cowpens, South Carolina.
I doubt she would leave a child like that; as a volunteer scout for Morgan, she would have taken care of that. Besides, she lived on a plantation and had slaves who could have cared for the child. Also, she had other children who could have minded the girl, including a son almost 10.
But times were desperate. Up until then, Tarleton and his troops had routed the Americans again and again. Getting troops to Morgan was urgent. Kate Barry's heroism need not be embellished.
Born on October 22, 1752, in Anson, South Carolina, the eldest of the 10 children of Charles and Mary Moore, Kate married Andrew Barry at 15 and moved to the Walnut Grove Plantation. The first of her 11 children was John Barry, born on March 4, 1771. When the Revolution broke out, she began scouting. She and her personal slave, Uncle Cato, often visited the troops to aid the American cause. On one occasion, the Tories entered her home and demanded to know the whereabouts of her husband. She refused and they whipped her.
Ahead of the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, she not only alerted her husband and his men, but other troops. Their role on the battlefield was to fire two volleys and then drop back, which encouraged the British to charge into a deathtrap of Morgan's riflemen.
We remember her courage long after her death at 70 on September 22, 1823. One of her descendants was actress Amanda Blake, who had the role of Miss Kitty on the TV show, "Gunsmoke." Blake donated a cameo-sized portrait of the heroine of Cowpens to a museum in South Carolina.
My first collection of "Exceptional Americans" is available here. And the Kindle version is here.