Four Tales Of The Painted Ladies of the American Revolution

Time to acknowledge those several ladies who made critical contributions to the American Revolution from a supine position.

There were numerous women who notably contributed to the American Revolution, and indeed, it fair to say as an equity feminist, historian, and romantic that the American Revolution and the framing of the Bill of Rights owes a heavy debt to women, from Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren.  But that is not the purpose of this post.  This post — as I am a 14 yr. old boy trapped in a man’s body — is dedicated to those women who made their contribution to the American Revolution lying on their backs (assuming they were partial to missionary pos– . . . eh, you know what I mean), and without whom. we could not possibly have won the Revolution when we did.  To those ladies of questionable morals, lax virtue and good natures, as a proud American, I salute you.

Margaret Gage & The Battle of Lexington and Concord

“The shot heard round the world” of April 19, 1775, was the opening salvo of the American Revolution fired by the British at Lexington Green.  The plans for the British night march to Concord through Lexington, to both capture American arms and to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, were top secret.  The British commander told only two people, his second in command and his wife.  Yet when the British marched on Concord, the colonists were ready and immediately reacted.

The Legend:  General Gage had spent several years in Boston as the overall commander of British forces.  The doctor he employed for his wife and children was a local, Dr. Joseph Warren, one of our nation’s most celebrated patriots.  Dr. Warren, out of an abundance of caution, is alleged to have resorted to repeated use of a unique type of thermometer to check on Mrs. Gage’s health (“Oops, there goes the mercury again.  Let me get you a towel”).  She kindly warned him of British plans.

What is known:  Mrs. Gage was likely the informant of British plans but it is speculation that Mrs. Gage and Dr. Warren were engaged in an affair.

The Prostitute & Our Nation’s First Traitor, Dr. Benjamin Church

The Facts:  Dr. Benjamin Church was, by all outward appearances, a solid American patriot.  In 1775, he was elected a member of the First Continental Congress, in addition to serving in several other high positions in the colonial resistance.  At some point, the British turned Church into a spy.

The Legend:  In 1775, Church employed a prostitute to, among other things, deliver a coded letter to the British.  The prostitute delivered it into the hands of the American colonists, God bless her.

What is known:  It is speculative whether Church gave the letter to a prostitute or an old lover.  And in some retellings, the letter was intercepted by the colonists rather than delivered up.  Either way, Church was outed and, as the colonies had no law then allowing for the execution of spies or traitors, he was banished from the colonies.  En route to Martinique, his ship foundered and Church drowned.

Sir William Howe, Cuckoldry & Mrs. Elizabeth Loring

Sir William Howe was the commander of British ground forces in America in 1776 to 1777.  His first expedition in the Revolution, the New York Campaign, was so successful that by October, 1776, Howe had Washington’s Continental Army was on the brink of annihilation.   All that remained was for Howe to pursue Washington in the winter months and finish off the war, but he did not.  Instead, he sent his forces into winter quarters while he returned to New York.  This gave Washington an opportunity to save the war, which he did in the December battles of Trenton and Princeton.

The Legend:  In New York, in return for Howe giving Joshua Loring the very lucrative position of overseeing prisoners of war, Joshua Loring assented to an affair between Howe and his wife.  Howe used the excuse of the “winter months” to get back to banging Elzabeth Loring in New York, as opposed to banging away at the Continental Army.

What is known:  There might well be truth to this as the facts were sufficiently notorious for one person of the era to pen an infamous poem, post-Battle of Trenton:

Sir William he,
snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a snoring,
Nor dreamed of harm
as he lay warm,
In bed with Mrs. Loring

The Battle of Trenton, Betsy Ross & Raising Of The Flag

It is impossible to over-estimate the significance of the Battle of Trenton.  It saved the American Revolution.  Washington went into winter quarters in 1776 with a defeated army and no reasonable expectation of being resupplied with men and equipment in 1777.  At the Battle of Trenton, American colonists  killed or captured virtually an entire Hessian regiment (22 killed in action, 83 wounded, and 896 captured) while suffering next to no casualties.  It was a miraculous victory.

Legend:  A part of that success must be attributed to the fact that the Hessians positioned themselves in such a manner as to be outside mutual support in case of an attack.  Indeed, when the attack occurred, the overall-Prussian commander, Colonel Carl von Donop, was busy far from Trenton with an American lass believed by many to be Betsy Ross.

What is known:  There is no question that Col von Donop was busy conquering America one lass at a time at Christmas, 1776.  The only question seems to be whether in fact it was Betsy Ross involved in helping to raise the Hessian flag before she, more literally, raised the American one.

Either way, God bless American women.