12 Unsung Heroes of American Independence You Didn’t Learn About in School

The American Revolution is filled with famous names, but what about those who didn’t make it into the textbooks? Here are twelve unsung heroes who played crucial roles in our independence but are often overlooked.

1. Sybil Ludington: The Female Paul Revere

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Sybil Ludington, just 16 years old, rode twice as far as Paul Revere to alert colonial forces of the British approach. Her bravery and determination were pivotal in rallying troops to fend off British forces. She rode through the night, covering 40 miles to warn militia forces.

2. Peter Salem: The Hero of Bunker Hill

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An African American soldier, Peter Salem played a critical role in the Battle of Bunker Hill. His actions not only helped secure American defenses but also showcased the vital contributions of Black soldiers in the fight for independence. Salem’s shot is believed to have killed British Major John Pitcairn, a key moment in the battle.

3. Mary Ludwig Hays: Molly Pitcher

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Known as Molly Pitcher, Mary Ludwig Hays took her husband’s place at a cannon during the Battle of Monmouth. Her courageous act of stepping into the heat of battle symbolized the significant yet often overlooked role of women in the Revolution. She also carried water to soldiers, earning her famous nickname.

4. James Armistead Lafayette: The Double Agent

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James Armistead Lafayette was an enslaved African American who served as a double agent. His intelligence work provided crucial information that helped ensure American victory at the Battle of Yorktown. Lafayette’s espionage efforts were pivotal in outmaneuvering British General Cornwallis.

5. Deborah Sampson: The Woman Who Fought as a Man

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Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man and fought in the Continental Army. Her bravery and resourcefulness highlight the extraordinary lengths some women went to participate directly in the fight for freedom. She served for over a year before her true identity was discovered.

6. Haym Salomon: The Financier

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A Jewish immigrant, Haym Salomon was instrumental in financing the Revolution. His fundraising efforts helped keep the Continental Army afloat during its most challenging times. Salomon’s financial acumen and networks were crucial in securing funds when they were most needed.

7. Thaddeus Kosciuszko: The Polish Engineer

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Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish military engineer, designed fortifications that were crucial in several battles. His expertise in military engineering greatly strengthened American defenses. Kosciuszko’s designs played a key role in the American victory at Saratoga.

8. Nancy Hart: The Feisty Patriot

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Nancy Hart, known for her fierce patriotism, reportedly captured and killed several Loyalist soldiers. Her actions underscored the fierce determination and resourcefulness of many frontier women. Hart used clever tricks to lure and overpower her enemies.

9. John Laurens: The Advocate for Black Soldiers

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John Laurens was a fervent advocate for the recruitment of Black soldiers into the Continental Army. His vision and efforts were instrumental in shaping a more inclusive fighting force. Laurens proposed freeing enslaved people in return for their service in the army.

10. Crispus Attucks: The First Martyr

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Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native American descent, was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre. His death is considered the first martyrdom in the cause for American independence. Attucks’ sacrifice became a rallying cry for the Patriots.

11. Bernardo de Gálvez: The Spanish Ally

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Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, provided critical support to the American cause. His military and financial aid were key to several American victories. Gálvez led Spanish forces in battles along the Gulf Coast, aiding the American war effort.

12. Lydia Darragh: The Quaker Spy

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Lydia Darragh, a Quaker, spied on British officers who occupied her home. Her intelligence gathering helped foil a surprise attack on Washington’s army. Darragh’s bravery in secretly passing on information saved countless American lives.

Recognizing the Hidden Figures

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Their stories remind us that history is full of hidden figures who made a difference. Who else might history have forgotten, and what can we do to ensure their stories are told?

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.