Catherine Moore Barry – Heroine of Cowpens

Catherine Moore Barry served her country with bravery and intelligence as a spy and messenger, and was instrumental in the pivotal Battle of Cowpens. This battle was a turning point in the reconquest of South Carolina from the British forces and ultimately lead to the Battle of Yorktown when General Washington accepted the surrender of General Cornwallis. She became one of the first American Heroines and was decorated with several medals after the War for Independence by South Carolina.

Catherine Moore was born on October 22, 1752, to Charles and Mary Moore. Catherine who was known as “Kate” was the eldest of ten children. She lived with her family in Piedmont, South Carolina until she married Andrew Barry at age 15. She moved with her husband to Walnut Grove Plantation in Roebuck, South Carolina. She had three children with her husband. 

Kate was instrumental in warning the militia of the invading British forces before the Battle of Cowpens in 1781 using her extensive knowledge of the area to help the Patriots. According to legend, she tied her toddler to the bedpost while she rode out to warn neighbors that the British Army was advancing. She knew the Indian trails well and was able to notify the colonial militia forces of the approaching army. The British, under command of General Cornwallis were trying to stomp out Patriot resistance in the southern colonies. General Morgan was the commander of the American forces and he realized that he was out-manned. Morgan turned to Kate for help and she single-handedly rounded up an impressive amount of local Patriots to join Morgan’s cause. With her help, General Morgan laid a trap for General Corwallis and his men. After the trap proved as a success, Cornwallis retreated right into the hands of George Washington in Yorktown, Virginia.

Her husband Andrew became a general in the war, and Kate often assisted him in battle. Kate became a spy and a messenger in the War for Independence. She was a great asset to the Patriots, because she had a strong knowledge of the lands in South Carolina and was courageous in her service.

Kate died on September 23, 1823. She was buried in the family cemetery beside her husband, who was one of the first elders of the Nazareth Presbyterian Church.

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