Jemima Warner – Killed in the American Revolution

Siege of Quebec, Canada during the American Revolution, by Charles Jefferys

Siege of Quebec, Canada, during the American Revolution, by Charles Jefferys

Jemima Warner was probably the first woman to be killed in action during the U.S. wars. She was the teenage wife of Private James Warner of the Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion during the American Revolution. Fearing he might become sick or wounded along the campaign trail, she wanted to be with him if such an event occurred.

In late 1775, the Continental Army began to besiege the British in Boston after the battles of Lexington and Concord and captured several British military bases. Afraid that the British would launch a counter-offensive from Canada to retake the forts and continue down the Hudson River to New York City, the Continental Army attempted an invasion of Quebec, Canada. As the troops marched northward, supplies were scarce, and smallpox was rampant among the troops. In Maine, an ailing James Warner fell behind the rest of the troops, and Jemima stayed with him. When he died, she buried his body under some leaves, took up his rifle and powder, and ran 20 miles to catch up with the battalion.

Serving as a cook for the troops, the company tried to approach Quebec under a white flag to discuss terms with their enemy. However, they were driven off by British cannons. Changing strategies, they then dressed Jemima Warner in a borrowed formal gown, and the woman marched through some 800 yards of deep snow to deliver a proposal to the British, which was promptly torn up, and Jemima was imprisoned. Five days later, she was released and returned to the battalion. However, a short time later, during the Siege of Quebec, she was killed by British guns on December 11, 1775.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2022.

Also See:

Historic People in American History

Historic Women List

Historic Women Photo Galleries

Women in American History