Sarah Swinton McIntosh
Patron Saint of the Revolutionary Period
Sarah McIntosh, after whom the Daughters of the American Revolution of Atlanta, Ga., have named their Chapter, was a South Carolina maiden of great beauty and dauntless courage, who, in the early days of the Revolution, became the wife of Colonel John McIntosh of Georgia. Colonel McIntosh was a member of the famous and somewhat turbulent Clan McIntosh which gave five brothers to the American cause during the Revolution and one to the Tory—and all fighters—General Lachan, Colonel John, William, George, and Roderick, all of whom signed the Georgia Declaration of Independence, and the swash-buckling Captain “Rory,” of Mallow Hill, the Tory, who boasted that he feared “neither mon, de’il nor demon.”
Mistress McIntosh after her marriage went to live on her husband’s plantation in Georgia, “where she bravely endured the terrors and vicissitudes of the Revolution, harassed by Tory depredations and endangered by Indian assaults. Braving all, bearing all, she was worthy her soldier husband,” writes Emily Hendree Park, in her eloquent and appreciative sketch of Sarah McIntosh in the American Monthly Magazine.
After the close of the war, there were eight or ten years of peaceful and happy domestic life vouchsafed to her, and then Colonel McIntosh removed to Florida, settling on the St. John’s River, about forty miles from St. Augustine. Suddenly and without warning Colonel McIntosh was arrested on charges preferred by the Spanish governor who claimed that he was plotting against the Spanish government. He was imprisoned in the old fortress at St. Augustine and soldiers sent to search his house. The charges against him were denied and no evidence against him of any kind was found.
His wife was not permitted to see him, however, and a little later he was transferred to Moro Castle, Havana, where he was left to languish in a dungeon without even being informed of what he was charged. But a few months before his time Mrs. McIntosh had been stricken with blindness. It was then that Colonel McIntosh came to see the he was mated with as good blood as his own. This blind woman, half distracted with anxiety over her husband, still sorrowing over the death of her only daughter, and left with the direction of a large plantation, wasted no time in useless repining or self-pity. She began at once to learn to “make her hands see.” She mastered the details of the plantation work and directed it successfully. She cared for her six little boys, the oldest of whom was barely twelve years, and always and ever she laboured [sic] and planned to obtain her husband’s release.
“The story of how she obtained permission through her eloquent letter to the Governor of Florida to write to her husband, how she made a trying journey in a ‘weak and infirm situation’ to St. Augustine to intercede with Governor in person; how she wrote to the Captain-General of Cuba; how she enlisted the influence of Washington and other great men of Revolutionary times; how she wrote, her eloquence and power increasing with every letter—appealing to every influence, exhausting every resource—the story, we say, would move a heart of stone.”
Rather because of a lack of evidence of any wrongdoing than from any humane motive Colonel McIntosh was finally released and returned to his home on the St. John’s. He hastily prepared to leave Florida and return to his Georgia home. But it was not with an altogether chastened spirit that he said his goodbyes to Florida and Spanish rule. On his way back to Georgia he destroyed the fort on the St. John’s at Cow Ford (now Jacksonville), and burned a number of galleys.
“An invalid, alone—a stranger in a strange land—she was yet a valiant warrior, panoplied [sic] only in spiritual armor,” writes Mrs. Park in conclusion. “Without a material weapon, she fought a good fight and is worth to be a patron saint of the Daughters of the American Revolution.”
Reference: The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. Third Volume, Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.