This Dangerous Women series will highlight women throughout the history of the United States, who have risked or given their lives for the cause of freedom. They were wives and mothers, dangerous only to the foes they opposed, and not nearly as well-known as the men they fought beside.
Much has been written about famous women of Revolutionary War times such as Molly Pitcher (Mary Hays McCauly), Betsy Ross, and Martha Washington, but not as much about women who actually fought and served in the war effort, or who otherwise aided the cause of liberty with direct and personal involvement.
One such woman was Prudence Cummings Wright. Only a month after her eight-month-old son, Liberty’s, death, Prudence pulled herself out of her grief and came to the aid of a nation that did not yet exist. While visiting her mother’s home in the neighboring town of Hollis, New Hampshire, Prudence overheard her brothers, Samuel and Thomas, talking of riders who were to take word of the colonial rebellion to the British. The Cummings family was split in their allegiance, brothers to the British crown, and sister to the new nation.
Mrs. Wright quickly and discretely returned home to Pepperell Parish, where her husband, David, a Minuteman, had likely already been dispatched to Concord to assist the Revolutionary cause under the command of Colonel Prescott.
Prudence knew that something had to be done, and that she and the other women of the town must do whatever necessary to assist the men in their mission. She gathered with 30-40 other townswomen, all dressed in their husband’s clothes and carrying whatever weapons they could find, to intercept Tories (those supporting the King) at Jewett’s bridge.
The women hid in the woods alongside the road and ambushed two riders as they approached the town. However, as the Captain of the Guard began shouting orders, one rider quickly recognized the voice as that of his sister, Prudence. Thomas Cummings is later to have said, “I recognized Prude’s voice and she would wade through blood for the rebel cause.”
It is not certain whether Thomas escaped at that point, or if he was released later; but it is said that he left the area with haste and never returned. The other rider was taken into town and turned over to the Committee of Safety, his communiques confiscated.
Regardless of their political polarity, Thomas’ disappearance caused further grief to Prudence, as he was her favored brother. After losing her youngest child only a month prior, and then left with the lifelong estrangement of her beloved brother, it is certain that Prudence Wright continued to grieve for her losses, but thus was the sacrifice of those dedicated to the cause of liberty in 1775.
The band of women, later known as “Mrs. David Wright’s Guard,” assisted in the birth of a nation; and Prudence Cummings Wright was a leader among them.
Many thanks to Project Appleseed instructors, who keep the legacy of Prudence Wright alive by telling her tale throughout the nation.
“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”