Lydia Darragh (1729-1789)
I have researched and put together a series on African American heroes, patriots and founding fathers of America. Most of them were slaves so many of them have little recorded about their lives. As I did this research I was amazed at the impact these people had on our country and I had never heard of many of them. I hope you will step back into time with me and learn about these forgotten Americans. I encourage you to research them more if one of their stories touches you.
Lydia Darragh was born in Ireland. In 1753 she came to the American colonies with her husband, William. Standing approximately five feet tall, she was a very small woman. She was a nurse and mother of five children. She was also a spy for the Continental Army and in my eyes, an American patriot!
During the British occupation of Philadelphia, General Howe, the commander of the British army, set up headquarters next to the home of the Darragh family. Howe and his officers used the Darragh home for meetings. When they met Darragh would tell them she was leaving but actually hid in a closet and spied on them.
On December 2, 1777 she overheard the British plans for a surprise attack on the Continental Army. The next day she left with an empty bag of flour. The soldiers thought she was going to purchase flour and other goods. Instead she rushed to the patriot troops and told them of the British plans. The British attack failed miserably!
A few days later she was interrogated by the British and was then released. They couldn’t believe that such a small woman could be the cause of such a large defeat!
Heroes of the Revolution. Adler, David. Holiday House Publishers. New York City, NY. 2003