In 1776, when war broke out, the Moore’s of Walnut Grove Plantation, were in imminent danger. Tensions were rising, and not just between the Americans and the British. The colonists were in an uproar—there was division amongst the people.
Margret Catherine Moore Barry (eldest of the Charles and Mary Moore’s ten children, and wife of Captain Andrew Barry) was an excellent horseman. Given her familiarity with the wilderness and native trails surrounding her father’s plantation, Kate knew all the shortcuts. Armed with her skills on a horse and on the trail, Kate volunteered as a scout for the continental forces.
Kate’s many exploits in her service against the British and the Tories (Tories were American colonists who remained loyal to the British crown) would earn her name a place in American history. In the winter of 1781, as the Tories made their way across the Tyger River, Kate Barry heard the enemy approaching. She tied her two year old daughter to the bedpost and tore off for the woods to inform her husband and his unit of their impending danger.
Other stories are told of Kate Barry. It is said that one time when Kate was captured, “she refused to reveal the position of her husband’s company and some accounts reported that the British beat her in retaliation.”* In another instance, Kate swam across the Pacolet River on horseback, barely escaping the enemy. Her escape was paramount to setting the stage for the turning point of the war, as she was able to warn American militia of an impending British attack.
Kate Barry is an ancestor of the actress Amanda Blake (1929-1989), who is remembered for the role of the red-haired saloon proprietress “Miss Kitty Russell” on the television western, Gunsmoke. Blake placed a cameo-sized portrait of Barry owned by her family in the Spartanburg, South Carolina local history museum, where it remains to this day.
Margret Catherine Barry died in 1823. She is buried in the family cemetery at Walnut Grove Plantation. In life, Kate was honored for spying on the enemy and warning the American militia when the enemy was approaching; for rounding patriots to fight at the Battle of Cowpens, and for all of her bravery in aiding Brigadier General Daniel Morgan. For her bravery, Catherine received several medals and was named Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens.
If you’ve found Kate’s story as interesting as I have, be sure to check out the links below! You might be interested in my post about Walnut Grove, where Kate grew up. I’d also like to invite you to join our mailing list at the bottom of the page. Everyone who subscribes before July 6th will be automatically entered for a chance to win a free copy of Kathy Boyd Fellure’s upcoming book, Lake Cottage Book Haven. As always, I’d love to hear from you, so please comment below, and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
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*This quote is taken from the Wikipedia article on Kate Barry.