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Meet “War Woman” — Why Even the Indians Were Afraid of Her

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

Art courtesy of the National Women's History Museum

As I research patriot and pioneer women, I am constantly confounded and humbled by their grit. Folks, we truly have no idea how feisty these women were! Recently I discovered a story about a woman who had a run-in with six British soldiers and bested them! When I looked into the legend of Nancy Morgan Hart, I laughed out loud. Clearly, Lord Cornwallis was not joking when he said, “We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat their women.”

I think he was referring to Nancy.

Born in Orange County, NC (not far from where I live), the Cherokee nick-named her War Woman. Gotta love that. Big-boned, muscular, this flaming red-head sported a pock-marked face and crossed eyes. She must have been a holy terror, especially when she went shooting. The woman didn’t miss, or so the Cherokee found out the hard way.

Apparently, Benjamin Hart recognized what a prize Nancy was and married her. The two moved to North Georgia and started a family. Passionate defenders of Liberty, they both participated in the war, her husband as a soldier and Nancy as a spy. She was known to the Tories as a patriot and they often stopped by to “check” on her.

One afternoon, six British soldiers made the mistake of thinking Nancy was a pushover. They killed her last turkey and demanded that she cook it. I’m sure with a twinkle in her stunning crossed blue eyes, Nancy agreed and then handed the soldiers a jug of corn liquor.

The story goes she started passing their guns to her daughter via a hole in the log cabin’s wall, but the soldiers got wise. They jumped to their feet to stop her and Nancy swung around on them with a loaded rifle. She warned them to stay back but one genius decided not to listen and lunged. Not only did Nancy drop him but had the calm demeanor to grab a second rifle and shoot another soldier as the remaining five advanced. Hell hath no fury like War Woman.

This truly legendary tall-tale was handed down through generations of folks along the Wilkes River in North Georgia. How much of the story is a legend and how much is truth? In 1912, six bodies were discovered buried on the Hart Farm…without markers of any kind. They had been there, according to archaeologists, for at least a century.

I’d say Nancy’s reputation was well-deserved.

War Woman.

I like it!

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