Large charity doth never soil,
But only whitens soft white hands – Lowell.

When General Greene was retreating through the Carolinas, after the battle of the Cowpens, and while at Salisbury, North Carolina, he put up at a hotel, the landlady of which was Mrs. Elizabeth Steele. A detachment of Americans had just had a skirmish with the British under Cornwallis at the Catawba ford, and were defeated and dispersed; and when the wounded were brought to the hotel, the General no doubt felt somewhat discouraged, for the fate of the south and perhaps of the country seemed to hang on the result of this memorable retreat. Added to his other troubles was that of being penniless; and Mrs. Steele, learning this fact by accident, and ready to do anything in her power to further the cause of freedom, took him aside and drew from under her apron two bags of specie. Presenting them to him she gonerously said, “Take these, for you will want them, and I can do without them.”*

* Never did relief come at a more propitious moment; nor would it be straining conjecture to suppose that he resumed his journey with his spirits cheered and brightened by this touching proof of woman’s devotion to the cause of her country. [Greene’s Life of Nathaniel Greene.


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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