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Women's History Month 2024 - Kate Moore Barry

Started by Mrs. Smith, March 31, 2024, 10:29:17 AM

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Mrs. Smith

Good morning, and welcome to the final installment of Project Appleseed's Women's History Month series for 2024.

In January of 1781 near the town of Cowpens, South Carolina there occurred what was arguably one of the most decisive battles of the American Revolutionary War.  The battle was a face-off between American General Daniel Morgan and British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton.  The Americans had been having a string of bad luck in the south. Tarleton's refusal of offering "no quarter," is said to be the derivation of the derisive term "Tarleton's Quarter," meaning "taking no prisoners." Morgan's brilliant victory over Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens was humiliating for the elite British army officer. His loss directly contributed to Cornwallis's defeat in the southern colonies, the British surrender at Yorktown, and American independence.

As history-changing as the victory at Cowpens was, it might very well have gone differently if not for the bravery and determination of a young woman.

Kate Moore She was born in 1752 on a plantation in South Carolina and was the oldest of ten children in her family. In 1767 at the age of fifteen she married Andrew Barry. The two settled in Spartanburg County across the Tyger River, about two miles from Walnut Grove.

Kate Barry was an excellent horsewoman, and she was very familiar with the wilderness and Indian trails around her plantation.  These skills would later become the stuff of legend.

When the American Revolution officially began, Kate was only 23 and already had children to look after. Her husband joined the Revolutionary cause as a captain, leaving Kate to balance her domestic responsibilities with her deeply rooted passion for the American cause.

Determined to help in any way she could, she began volunteering as a scout for the army and worked to gather information to undermine the British. Women were valuable assets in war, as sexism often made them unassuming spies—those who assumed such things would be proven wrong countless times. Working closely with Daniel Morgan's army, she gathered information and stories about British movements and relayed them back to Continental Army troops and commanders.

On one fateful day in 1781, Kate overhead stories of British troops approaching her town, and relayed the information to the commanding Continental Army officers. Kate's specific role in the battle is unknown, with some stories contending that she may fought alongside her husband, but there is no definitive proof of such a claim. Others alleged that she had to tie her toddler to her bed to move with the urgency needed to warn the Revolutionary troops. Either way, her impact on the battle was significant, and we know with near certainty that the information she delivered as a spy and messenger gave the troops more time to prepare for the incoming British attack.

Following the battle, she was granted a medal by General Andrew Pickens declaring her a "Heroine of the Battle of the Cowpens" and that her bravery as a messenger did not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, little else is known about her after the Revolutionary War, and sources that dictate the characteristics of her life are widely unavailable. What is known, however, is that she lived out the rest of her life with her husband and children, and passed away at the age of 71 near her hometown in South Carolina. People can visit her family grave in the town of Moore, where is buried alongside her husband.

Today, the spirit of Kate Barry lives on at her restored plantation home at Walnut Grove.

Recently, the Kate Barry Chapter of the DAR was successful in having a portion of Highway 29, from East Main Street to the turnoff for I-85 in Cowpens (thought to be the trail she followed) designated as "Kate Barry Boulevard."

Learn more about other Revolutionary War heroines in the Women's History Month Series at

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." - Margaret Thatcher

You can have peace, or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once. - Robert A. Heinlein

"A generation which ignores history has no past, and no future." - Lazarus Long

"What we do now echoes in eternity." Marcus Aurelius

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