Women of Revolutionary War Georgia

The War Years (1775-1783)

December 17, 2020
by Robert Scott Davis Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

The September 3, 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Revolution published “Margaret Eustace and Her Family Pass Through the American Revolution.” Margaret Eustace, the suspected female spy with a colorful colonial past, showed up in Georgia in 1779 and apparently misrepresented her considerable real family connections in the American and British armies. Eustace survived the war and even prospered. Her friend Catherine Moore left her home near Savannah to Eustace and her son Col. John Skey Eustace. Why Moore made such a gift is unknown, but she surely found in her a similar life of challenges as a wife made worse by war.[1]

Records of women during the American Revolution, even of the higher social status like Eustace and Moore, are scarce. Often a wife’s birth surname has not survived or even her given name.[2] Sometimes they only appear in records of probate or in the legal formality of renouncing their dower when husbands sold land.[3] Married women suffered because of being legally bound to their husbands and, as with all civilians, of being targets of violence when war was waged. Many women were left with nothing, such as those who lost brothers, husbands, and sons killed or executed among the Quakers and friendly neighbors in Georgia’s Wrighstborough community when rebel raiders destroyed the largely-Loyalist settlement.[4] While Georgia became a battlefield for the American, British, and French armies, even more men died from Americans killing Americans—patriots versus Loyalists—to the extent that murdering prisoners came to cynically be called granting a “Georgia parole.[5]

The extraordinary adventures of a few Georgia women have been remembered. Nancy Hart represented the women of the era who defended their homes and or actively worked for or against the Revolution out of love country. For whatever she did or did not do, the Georgia legislature named a county for Hart in 1853, the only one of the state’s 163 counties named for a woman.[6] African American Mammy Kate reportedly staged an escape for her patriot enslaver, Georgia Governor Stephen Heard, and worked as a patriot spy.[7]

Elizabeth Lichtenstein wrote a rare memoir of her experiences in Revolutionary War Georgia. Her mother, Catherine Delegal Lightenstone, died in 1774, and in 1776 at age twelve, Elizabeth successfully petitioned patriot officials not to confiscate her grandfather’s property because of her father’s actions. The latter, John Lightenstone, a Russian in the Georgia colonial bureaucracy, had fled Georgia with a bounty on his head for being a Loyalist. After harrowing adventures, he reached British-occupied New York.

During the American and French siege of Savannah in 1779, Elizabeth Lichtenstein hid in cellars with other refugees. They were not allowed by either side to leave for safety outside of the town. To escape the bombardment, they finally moved to Hutchinson Island where they were protected by Cherokee warriors and armed slaves.[8]

Later that year, Lichtenstein married Capt. William Martin Johnston. This Scottish medical student had gone to Boston to join the King’s forces and became a captain of the Loyalist New York Volunteers before joining Thomas Brown’s King’s Rangers in Georgia, as did her father, also as a captain.

The Johnstons knew loss in the war. Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Capt. Andrew Johnston of the Kings Rangers died in the attack by Elijah Clark and his patriot militia against the Loyalist garrison in Augusta in September 1780. His brother John served as a private in the Rangers until captured and executed on May 3, 1781.

Elizabeth Lichstenstein’s extended family would leave Georgia on a long odyssey across and around the North Atlantic as exiles until finding a home in Nova Scotia. Over time, they became connected to some of Canada’s most prominent families.[9]

Most of Georgia’s women of the American Revolution found neither fame nor glory, only a legacy that survives, if at all, in fragments of records that illustrate the dangers faced by all.[10] For example, Fenda Lawrence was the African partner and mother of the children of Stephen Deane, an Irish sea captain in the African slave trade. During the war she moved with their children to Georgia, but after Stephen died, leaving debts, she lost everything because the law did not recognize her as his wife.[11]

Women could be abandoned. Scotsman William Manson founded Friendsborough, a settlement of indentured servants from Northern England, near Augusta, Georgia in 1775. He and his wife reportedly treated the servants badly before the war, and once the war began, it gave the servants an opportunity to flee. The Mansons then separated, reconciled, and finally were parted by 1780 when William Manson took their children. He did not even know if his wife was still alive in 1782. Manson’s two sisters had to find families in Augusta to take them in as charity.[12] Loyalist William Lee, fearing for his life, stayed with his wife only long enough for her to give birth to their daughter Charlotte on August 7, 1781, before he fled and had a harrowing trip back to England.[13]

Many women found themselves alone and destitute. One of them, the widow Catherine Eirick had to plead for government assistance in 1780. In 1778, British soldiers had evicted her from her home in Savannah in order to use her house as a hospital. They tore down her farm buildings for firewood. With her children grown and gone, she had no support.[14]

Margaret Strozier of Wilkes County had a similar experience that ended more favorably. Starting in 1780, she was abandoned by her husband Peter for two years while he served under patriot partisan Elijah Clark. Driven from their home, she and their seven children crossed through South Carolina “half begging and starving” to rejoin Peter in North Carolina.[15]

Some women chose their politics. In 1781, John McDaniel, living near Augusta, gave his wife Mary the choice of bringing their three children with him to the British lines in Savannah or not. An acquaintance remembered that Mary McDaniel “would not go with the King’s people, but would stay with the liberty.” John McDaniel subsequently died from smallpox behind British lines. The state of Georgia seized what little property that Mary had and left her and her children to starve.[16]

Women seldom received legal redress for their losses and sufferings. After the war, Mrs. Anne Gray of Burke County charged Loyalist bandit leader Daniel McGirt with her rape in 1779. He escaped prosecution.[17] In 1791, the governor of Georgia considered a petition for clemency for an enslaved man named Billy, the “property” of Thomas Stone. His mother Patty, a free African American woman in St. Augustine, Florida, had helped American soldiers held prisoner by the British during the war. She negotiated for the purchase of Billy’s emancipation and hoped that his repentance would allow him to join her in Florida.[18] Sibbiah Blair lived in Burke County. She later received military bounty land from the post-war state government, not for her deceased husband William, but for her own service, the details of which are no longer known—a rare, possibly unique, situation for a woman in Georgia.[19]

Catherine Mullryne Moore left not an anecdotal history but a long chronology of her struggles as a married woman in the deadly politics of Revolutionary War Georgia. Her father, Col. John Mullryne, married Claudia Cattell on October 23, 1735 in his native Windward Islands of Montserrat. The couple came to Beaufort, South Carolina, before the Revolution, where he established himself as a wealthy merchant and became a colonel in the colonial militia. The Mullrynes moved to Savannah where they became extensive land owners, including tracts held in trust for their daughters Catherine and Mary.[20]

Catherine Mullryne married Andrew Moore, a planter of Great Kiokee Creek just north of Augusta, in early 1776.[21] Moore had come to Georgia from Ireland as part of the Queensborough settlement of Scots-Irish in 1773. He associated with Robert Rae, a wealthy frontier Georgia entrepreneur whose Irish-born father John had created the Queensborough settlement.

Andrew Moore served in Georgia’s Revolutionary Provincial Council which met in Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah in 1775. He never caught up with his considerable debts, even with the property of his new wife Catherine. By April 22, 1777, they were living rent-free on the Great Kiokee Creek land Moore had just sold to the partnership of Robert Rae, Thomas Rae, John Rae, Samuel Elbert, and Thomas Graham, a syndicate that traded with the Indians for furs and pelts.[22] On November 10, Moore transferred £4,000 (state currency) worth of slaves to the state of Georgia that Catherine had in her possession but which belonged to her father—John Mullryne was “a convicted Loyalist” who had left Georgia to resettle in the Bahamas.[23]

In January 1779, British Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell had the Moores under house arrest at their Great Kiokee Creek home. A British sergeant named McAllister, guarding the family from thieves, mistook a passing patrol for Loyalists and, realizing his mistake, charged the South Carolina militiamen with his bayonet. The sergeant was shot dead. McAllister’s death became an atrocity when one of the Americans chopped up the body, reportedly in revenge for similar treatment done to his son.[24]

In the summer of 1780, Georgia’s restored colonial assembly placed Andrew Moore on a list of disloyal persons never to hold public office again and to have his property confiscated. The Royal Governor’s Council turned down Col. James Grierson’s request that Moore be made a major in the restored colonial militia near Augusta.

Moore nonetheless led his Tory neighbors in helping to devastate the Patriot settlements in Wilkes County following the unsuccessful attack on the Loyalist garrison in Augusta by Elijah Clark’s Wilkes County Patriot militia in September 1780. As a consequence, more than 400 men, women, and children, black and white, had to flee Wilkes County in a snow storm, with little food, to safety in today’s Tennessee. They were pursued by Loyalists and Indians. When Maj. Patrick Ferguson and his corps failed to intercept the desperate Georgians, he and his Loyalists suffered defeat at the Battle of Kings Mountain from a multi-state force of patriot militia.[25]

Georgia’s restored colonial government then commissioned Moore as major of the 2nd Regiment of Loyalist militia. (Catherine Moore’s brother-in-law Josiah Tattnall was colonel of the 1st Regiment Loyalist militia near Savannah and her nephew John Mullryne Tattnall served in Thomas Brown’s Tory King’s Rangers.)[26] Moore was slightly wounded in March 1781 by a band of seven rebels sent to assassinate Augusta’s eleven most prominent Loyalists. Andrew and Catherine Moore were likely among the people who took refuge in British Fort Cornwallis in Augusta during the Patriot campaign that successfully retook Augusta from the Loyalists in the spring and summer of 1781. Andrew Moore died at his home in November of that year, circumstances unknown.[27]

The Banishment and Confiscation Act passed by Georgia’s restored Patriot assembly ordered the seizure of the property of Andrew Moore, including that of his heirs. Catherine Moore claimed on January 1, 1782 that her husband had left her only two slaves. Their home on Great Kiokee Creek, however, was confiscated and sold by the state on September 10, 1782.[28]

Catherine Moore’s deceased father’s Bonaventure plantation near Savannah was also confiscated and sold because he and its new owner, his grandson John Mullryne Tattnall, were Loyalists. Catherine Moore sued—her grandmother Claudia Cattell Mullyrne had willed her a life interest in that plantation. Moore received £300 in state currency from the state assembly as compensation. Today the plantation is a world-famous Savannah cemetery. Catherine Moore lived on the Cattell Plantation near Savannah, formerly belonging to her mother’s family, until her death in January 1790.[29]

Catherine Moore and so many other Georgia women, Loyalist, Patriot, or neither, proved to be survivors in the worst of times and have left us that heritage. It remains for us to uncover and tell their stories.


[1]Deposition of Jean Watts, July 1, 1780, Colonial Georgia Miscellaneous Book JJ (1779-1780), 285, microfilm reel 40-37, Georgia Archives, Morrow; deposition of John Blair, n. d., Blair Family Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia; Mabel Freeman LaFar and Caroline Price Wilson, comps., Abstracts of Wills, Chatham County, Georgia, 1773-1817 (Washington, DC: National Genealogical Society, 1933), 92; Gordon B. Smith, Morningstars of Liberty: The Revolutionary War in Georgia, 1775-1783, 2 vols. (Milledgeville, GA: Boyd Publishing, 2011 and 2014), 1: 160n16.

[2]See Christina K. Schaefer, The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women’s Genealogy (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999) and Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors (Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 1998).


[3]For women and probate in America see Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986) and Carole Shammas and Marylynn Salmon, Inheritance in America: From Colonial Times to the Present (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987).

[4]Robert S. Davis, “Children of Dissent and Revolution: Joseph Maddock and the Wrightsborough, Georgia, Quaker Community,” Quaker History 99 (spring 2010): 1-14.

[5]Harold E. Davis, The Fledgling Province: Social and Cultural Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976), 17; William Moultrie, Memoirs of the American Revolution, So Far as It Related to the States of North and South Carolina and Georgia, 2 vols. (New York: David Longworth, 1802), 2: 336; E. W. Carruthers, Revolutionary Incidents and Sketches of Characters Chiefly of the Old North State (Philadelphia: Hayes & Zell, 1854), 431; Dr. Thomas Taylor to Rev. John Wesley, February 28, 1782, Shelbourne Papers, Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan; “SAVANNAH, MARCH 14,” Royal Georgia Gazette (Savannah), March 14, 1782.

[6]E. Merton Coulter, “Nancy Hart, Georgia Heroine of the Revolution: The Story of the Growth of a Tradition,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 39 (June 1955): 118-51;Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr., “Nancy Hart,” in Kenneth Coleman and Charles Stephen Gurr, eds. Dictionary of Georgia Biography, 2 vols. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1983), 1: 412-13.

[7]The descendants of Stephen Heard had a story at least as early as 1894 of Heard’s rescue from British captivity by hiding in the laundry carried by his loyal slave woman and patriot spy Mammy Kate. Stephen Heard Family History, Mss2841(m), Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens; Albert C. Whitehead, Makers of Georgia’s Name and Fame (Boston, MA: Educational Publishing Company, 1913), 76-78. An 1820 letter supposedly describes her. John H. McIntosh, The Official History of Elbert County 1790-1935 (expanded edition, Atlanta: Stephen Heard Chapter, DAR, 1968), 22-23.

[8]Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist, ed. Arthur Wentworth Eaton (written 1836, New York: M. F. Mansfield, 1901), 23-24, 37, 40-47; Genealogical Committee of the Georgia Historical Society, comp., Early Deaths in Savannah, Georgia 1763-1803 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1993), 18; Alexander A. Lawrence, Storm Over Savannah: The Story of Count d’Estaing and the Siege of the Town in 1779 (2nd ed., Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1951), 71-74; Johnston Family Bible, 1727-1817, Kollock Family Papers, part v, Georgia Archives, Morrow.

[9]Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist, 5-17, 31-32; Murtie June Clark, comp., Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, 3 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1981), 1: 63, 64; Peter Wilson Coldham, American Migrations 1765-1799 (Baltimore: genealogical Publishing Company, 2000), 766-67, 769; Edward J. Cashin, The King’s Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999), 143-44; Robert S. Davis, “A Georgia Loyalist’s Perspective on the American Revolution: The Letters of Dr. Thomas Taylor, 1776-1782,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 81 (spring 1997): 118-38.

[10]Holger Hoock, Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth (New York, 2017), 120-21; George Dooly vs. Hannah Caudle, Joseph M. Toomey Collection, Georgia Archives, Morrow; deposition of John Smith, July 2, 1833, Revolutionary War pension claim of John Smith, GA S 31967, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives microfilm M804, roll 2219).

[11]Robert S. Davis, “Free but Not Freed: Stephen Deane’s African Family in Georgia,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 48 (Spring 2013): 61-72.

[12]Robert S. Davis, Quaker Records in Georgia (Roswell, GA: Wolfe Publishing, 1986), 184-85.

[13]Robert S. Davis, comp., Georgians in the Revolution (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press 1986), 214, 216. William Lee returned to Georgia in 1782 and became a coroner and justice of the peace in Augusta. He performed an inquest on the death on his wife Charity (died August 28, 1799). Davis, Georgians in the Revolution, 215; R. C. Ball, A Chronology of William Ball of St. John’s Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina and Some of His Descendants (Houston, TX: William Ball Family Association, 2011); Mildred Pearce Tomlinson and Doris Rhude Wilson, comps., Journal of the House of Representatives State of Georgia 1799-1802 (Jacksonville, FL: Southern Genealogical Exchange, 1993) 43.

[14]“Some Miscellaneous Records of Georgia Patriots and Tories,” Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly 55 (summer 2019): 135-36, 137. Catherine Eirick remained in Georgia after the war and recovered enough financially to leave an inheritance to her grandchildren in 1793, the beginnings of her family’s rise to prominence. LaFar and Wilson, Abstracts of Wills, Chatham County, Georgia, 35; William Harden, A History of Savannah and South Georgia, 2 vols. (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1913), 2: 1074-1075.

[15]In 1837, as an elderly widow, Margaret Strozier applied for but failed to receive a Revolutionary War widow’s pension. Deposition of Margaret Strozier, March 3, 1837, Revolutionary War pension claim of Peter Strozier, GA R 10279, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives microfilm M804, roll M2195).

[16]Robert S. Davis, comp., Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1979), 49, and Georgians in the Revolution (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1986), 167.

[17]Order of Henry Osborne, August 4, 1788, Telamon Cuyler Collection, Mss 1170, box 41, folder 8, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Smith, Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 302-304.

[18]Petition on behalf of Patty, July 21, 1791, Box 75, file 8, Telamon Cuyler Collection, Mss1170, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscripts Library.

[19]Mary Bondurant Warren and Jack Moreland Jones, Georgia Governor and Council Journals 1761-1767 (Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 1991) 83, 116, and Georgia Governor and Council Journals 1768-1771 (Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2003), 190; Sibbiah Blair file, Headright and Bounty Documents, 1783-1900, Surveyor General, Record Group 3-4-5, box DOC-3952, Georgia Archives, Morrow.

[20]William H. Dumont, comp., Colonial Georgia Genealogical Data 1748-1783 (Washington, DC: National Genealogical Society, 1971), 32, 33; Emmett Lucas, comp., Index to Headright and Bounty Lands Grants of Georgia, 1756-1909 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1982), 478; John Frederick Dorman, comp., Adventures of Purse and Person Virginia 1607-1624/25, 3 vols. (4th edition, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Press, 2005), 2: 563-64; Coldham, American Migrations, 786; Genealogical Committee of the Georgia Historical Society, Early Deaths in Savannah, Georgia, 35.

[21]Genealogical Committee of the Georgia Historical Society, comp., Marriages of Chatham County, Georgia Volume One (1748-1852) (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society 1993), 16.

[22]Mary Bondurant Warren, comp., Georgia Governor and Council Journals 1772-1773 (Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 1991), 100, Governor and council Journals 1782 (British Georgia) (Kindle EBook, Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2015), n. p., and Loyalist Claims (British Georgia) (Kindle EBook, Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2014), n. p.; William H. Dumont, comp., Colonial Georgia Genealogical Data, 1748-1783 (Washington, DC: National Genealogical Society, 1971), 16, 42; and memorial of Daniel McNeill, March 11, 1781, Telamon Cuyler Collection, box 38F, folder 20, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens; Colonial Georgia Conveyance Book CC (1774-1784), 350. 866-67, 869-870, 873-74, 877-78, 998-99, 2093-1094, Colonial Conveyance Book BBB (1783-1802, 437, Georgia Archives, Morrow.

[23]Bond of Andrew Moore, November 10, 1777, Telamon Cuyler Collection, Mss 1170, Box 38d, folder 45; Smith, Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 204.

[24]Smith,Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 139-40; Robert S. Davis, “The Loyalist Trials at Ninety Six, in 1779,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (April 1979): 177-78.

[25]Mary Bondurant Warren, comp., Georgia Governor and council Journal 1780 Civil War in the Ceded Lands (Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2009), 27, 164, 168, 175; Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 119.

[26]Smith,Morningstars of Liberty,1: 245-46; Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, 1: 386, 387, 389, 568; Coldham, American Migrations, 786; Dorman, Adventures of Purse and Person, 2: 564; Mary Bondurant Warren, Hessians and Redcoats (Kindle EBook, British Georgia) (Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2015), n. p.

[27]Smith, Morningstars of Liberty,1: 245-46.

[28]Mary Bondurant Warren, The Aftermath (British Georgia) (Kindle EBook, Athens, GA: Heritage Papers, 2015), n. p.; legal notices, Royal Georgia Gazette, January 24, 1782. For a not dissimilar story of marriage, politics, and scandal in Revolutionary War Georgia involving James Ingram see Smith, Morningstars of Liberty,1: 181-82; 303-304.

[29]Catherine Moore, Name File, Georgia Archives, Morrow; Smith, Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 160n16; Genealogical Committee of the Georgia Historical Society, Early Deaths in Savannah, 60.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *