In 1775, Massachusetts was considered the most rebellious of the colonies (wow, how times have changed). Some of the most feisty patriot women of the Revolution came from this state, but none can actually claim to have captured British spies.
In April of 1775, David and his Minutemen were called upon to defend Concord and Lexington, the opening battles of the Revolutionary War. The men loaded their guns, kissed their wives and children good-bye, and raced off to war. Many times when the militia were called up, their homes were left undefended and vulnerable.
This wasn’t the case in the towns of Hollis and Groton. This area was a hot-bed of American fervor and the women were just as riled as the men—especially Prudence. Clearly very proud of their patriotic leanings, she and David had actually named one of their sons Liberty. Sadly, in March of 1775, the child passed away at only 8 months. By April, then, Prudence was still raw and bleeding from the loss. Perhaps that was why she jumped into the fray—she still had six children who needed a future filled with liberty and hope.
Visiting with her mother just a few days after the men had left, Prudence overheard her brothers discussing that either spies or Tory sympathizers, possibly even troops, would be marching through the area headed toward to Lexington. A true leader among her friends, when Prudence put out the call that all the ladies in the area needed to meet at Jewett’s Bridge, they showed up in force! A group of 30-40 women dressed in their husbands’ clothes and carrying everything from rifles to pitchforks hid themselves in the trees.
Late on the moonless night of April 19, two riders did attempt to cross the bridge. When hailed, they tried to run. Boldly, the women grabbed the reins and wrestled the horses to a stand-still. Capt. Leonard Whiting, not of the mind to be taken captive by women, pulled his pistol. The rider with him, though, Samuel Cummings, pushed his arm down and warned him, “I recognize Pru’s voice and she would wade through blood for the rebel cause.”
Clearly, Samuel was aware of his sister’s devotion to the fight for independence and knew better than to test her.
Now that is a woman of principle and single-minded determination. And it sounds as if she kept good company. Perhaps this is where Glen Beck got his famous phrase “We surround them.” Every time I discover a new story of a woman willing to risk it all for the shining city on a hill that America would become, I am amazed and ashamed. Amazed at their pluck; ashamed that I’ve played my part in letting America’s founding values be mocked and under-mined.
But maybe I have a Jewett Bridge moment in my future. If I do, I will remember Prudence and try to make her proud. Until then, I can live my patriot values out loud and with pride, just like she did.