Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An Eyewitness Account of the Nancy Harts - LaGrange, Georgia

Home of 2nd Lieutenant, Mrs. Peter Heard
The events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War reminded me of one of my favorite stories about the war, the almost legendary tale of the Nancy Harts.

The Nancy Harts, as the story goes, were an all female military company that organized in LaGrange, Georgia, to defend the city against Union raiders. Most of the city's men and boys were away in the Confederate service and the community was only lightly defended, so the women of LaGrange took it upon themselves to provide for their own defense. They gave their company the name of Georgia's legendary female fighter of the American Revolution, Nancy Hart.

They drilled regularly under the direction of a disabled Confederate soldier and became quite proficient in their marksmanship and military order. The legend continues that when Union troops approached the city in 1865 during Wilson's Raid, the Nancy Harts formed ranks and marched out to meet them. A truce was negotiated, however, and bloodshed was averted.

It is a fascinating legend and I recently came across an 1861 account of the actual formation and naming of Georgia's all female Confederate company. The article first appeared in the LaGrange Reporter, but was reprinted by the Atlanta Southern Confederacy a few days later:

The Company Drilled near Belleview House
June 1, 1861,
Southern Confederacy (Atlanta), p. 2.

The “Nancy Harts” of LaGrange.

We are informed that the ladies of LaGrange, to the number of about forty organized themselves, on Saturday last, into a military corps for the purpose of drilling and target practice. They elected Dr. A.C. Ware as their Captain; and, we believe, resolved to meet every Saturday. The following are their officers:

Dr. A.C. Ware, Captain
Mrs. Nannia Morgan, First Lieutenant
  Peter A. Heard, Second Lieutenant
Miss Aley Smith, Third Lieutenant.
“ Andelle Bull, First Sergeant.
“ Augusta Hill, Second Sergeant.
“ M.E. Colquitt, Third Sergeant.
“ Pack Beall, First Corporal
“ Lelia Pullen, Second Corporal
“ Sallie Bull, Third Corporal.
“ Ella Key, Treasurer.

The corps not having a name, and it being their determination to prepare to defend their homes, if necessary, as did Nancy Hart of olden time, we have taken the liberty of calling them the “Nancy Harts” until they shall adopt one. We have no doubt they will prove as true as did Nancy Hart if the emergency ever presents itself; and, therefore, we do not think a more appropriate name could be suggested. The “Nancy harts” of LaGrange! That’s it, ladies. – LaGrange Reporter.

To learn more about the Nancy Harts, please visit

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