Sisters on the Battlefield
Published on Friday, March 14, 2014 - 9:20am
Throughout the ages, women have always fought beside, behind, with men and alone when the need arose. In the United States, women fought in the Wild West, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
Native American and African American women also made great contributions on the battle front.
One of the women who engaged in combat during the Revolutionary War was Mary Ludwig-Hays, who became known as Molly Pitcher. Mary followed her husband, an artilleryman, to Valley Forge and the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Mary's job was to carry pitchers of water to help cool the cannons. When Mary's husband was wounded in battle, she took his place.
When George Washington noticed her bravery, he raised Mary to the rank of non-commissioned officer. Numerous women assisted the Revolutionary War soldiers by bringing water to the men. The cry "Molly Pitcher" would let the women know that someone needed their help.
Buffalo Calf Road Woman was a Northern Cheyenne woman who saved her wounded warrior brother Chief Comes in Sight, in the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876. Her rescue helped rally the Cheyenne warriors to win the battle.
She fought next to her husband in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. During the Battle of the Rosebud, the Cheyenne and Lakota, allied under the leadership of Crazy Horse, had been retreating, and they left the wounded Chief Comes in Sight on the battlefield. Suddenly, Buffalo Calf Road Woman rode out onto the battlefield at full speed and grabbed up her brother, carrying him to safety.
Her courageous rescue caused the Cheyenne to rally, and they defeated General George Crook and his forces. Buffalo Calf Road Woman is documented as also having fought at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States and the second American woman to work for the United States Postal Service.
Fields stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 200 pounds. She liked to smoke cigars and she usually had a pistol strapped under her apron and a jug of whiskey by her side.
Fields was born a slave and freed when American slavery was outlawed in 1865. At the approximate age of 60, Fields was hired as a mail carrier because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses. She never missed a day of work, and her reliability earned her the nickname "Stagecoach." If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail on snowshoes, carrying sacks of mail on her shoulders.