Teenage Revolutionary War Heroine
While we find many stories of men performing heroic deeds throughout history of America, we find very few records of women serving their country. This, however, does not mean that women did not serve their country. There are accounts of women who have nobly performed their patriotic duty. One of those women was Emily Geiger. The bearing of important dispatches through an enemy’s country is an enterprise that always requires both courage and address. Miss Emily Geiger performed such a feat during the American Revolution, under difficult circumstances.
General Nathaniel Greene had retreated before Lord Rawdon. When Greene passed Broad river, he was desirous to send an order to General Thomas Sumter to join him that they might attack Lord Rawdon, who had divided his force. But the General could find no man in that part of the state who was bold enough to undertake so dangerous a mission.
The country to be passed through for many miles was full of bloodthirsty Tories, who on every occasion that offered drenched their hands in the blood of the Whigs. At length, Emily Geiger presented herself to General Greene, and proposed to act as his messenger. Emily was the daughter of John and Emily Murff Geiger. Due to his infirmities, her father could not go to the battlefield, making Emily extremely desirous to serve her country in some way. The general, both surprised and delighted, consented to her proposal. He accordingly wrote a letter and delivered it, and at the same time communicated the contents of it verbally, to be told to Sumter in case of accidents and/or capture.
Emily pursued her journey on horseback on a sidesaddle. She traveled under the guise of being on her way to her Uncle Jacob’s house many miles away. But on the second day Lord Rawdon’s scouts near the Congaree River intercepted her. Coming from the direction of Greene’s army and not being able to tell an untruth without blushing, Emily was suspected and confined to a room no smaller than that of some modern day sheds.
The officer sent for an old Tory matron to search her for papers. Emily immediately sought to destroy the letter, but was perplexed at what to do with the pieces. Then she had an idea. As soon as the door was closed and the bustle a little subsided, she ate up the letter, piece by piece After a while, Mrs. Hogabook, the matron arrived. She carefully searched Emily, but nothing was found of a suspicious nature about the prisoner and she would disclose nothing. Suspicion being then relieved, the officer commanding the scouts apologized for the error and allowed her to leave, giving her an escort to her uncle’s home. The next day, Emily took a route somewhat roundabout to avoid further detentions and soon after struck into the road leading to Sumter’s camp, where she arrived safely. Emily told the general of her adventure and delivered Greene’s verbal message to Sumter, who in consequence, soon after joined the main army at Orangeburgh (Wheeler, Daughters of Destiny, p. 180).