American Women: “Mother Bailey”


No braver dames had Sparta,
No nobler matrons Rome.
                                    W. D. Gallagher

Anna Warner was born in Groton, Connecticut, on the eleventh of October, 1758, and married Captain Elijah Bailey of the same town, in 1774. He. participated in the hardships and dangers, and she in the trials of the struggle for Independence. He is dead; she is still living.*

She was a witness of the terrible massacre at Fort Griswold, in Groton, on the sixth of September; and the following morning she hurried off to the scene of carnage, a distance of three miles, to search for an uncle who was among the brave defenders. She found him among the fatally wounded: at his request that he might see his wife and child before he died, she ran home, caught and saddled a horse for the feeble mother, and taking the child in her arms, carried it the whole distance, that it might receive the kisses and benediction of its dying father!

In the month of July, 1813 a blockading fleet appeared off the harbor of New London; and on the thirteenth, demonstrations were noticed of an intention to attack the place. Intense excitement now prevailed not only in New London, but in all the adjacent towns. Fort Griswold was once more occupied; small cannon–all to be had — were planted, and every preparation possible was made for a vigorous defence. The greatest deficiency was in flannel for cartridges; and in the emergency a messenger was dispatched to the village to consult with Mrs. Bailey on the most expeditious method of obtaining a supply. She promptly offered to see that each family was visited, and the wants of the soldiery made known. This was done, and each individual in the neighborhood cheerfully presented her and her co-laborers whatever of the desired articles could be spared, some in garments and some in the raw material. When these were delivered to the messenger, and there was still found a deficiency, she slyly slipped an under garment from her own person and charged him to give that to the British. As the enemy did not deem it expedient to make an attack, it is difficult to tell what aid that garment rendered; nor does it matter: its patriotic surrender showed the noble spirit which has always actuated “mother Bailey,” and was an appropriation for her country which never caused her a blush. **

*We are Informed by the Postmaster of Groton, in a letter dated the tenth of December, 1850, that Mrs. B is still living, and that her mind is somewhat Impaired. She ls now in her ninety-third year. 

**The editor of the Democratic Review, to whom we are indebted for a portion of these facts, visited the heroine of Groton in the fall off 1846, in the number of his periodical for the January following spoke of her as a remarkable woman, physically, as well as mentally und patriotically. She was then eighty-eight years old, yet as agile as a girl of eighteen, and neither sight nor hearing had began to fail. “Such then,” he adds, “is Mother Bailey. Had she lived in the palmy days of ancient Roman glory, no matron of the mighty empire would have been more highly honored.” In the same article Mrs B. is spoken of as the Postmistress of Groton, an office, which the present Postmaster assures us, she never held.

Since the above was originally stereotyped, Mrs. Bailey has died. Her demise occurred in the winter of 1850-1.


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York

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