and head of household
of a South Carolina
plantation during the Revolutionary War
. After the British took Charleston
, the seat of government
, they claimed to have conquered the state and kept soldiers throughout the area looking for American soldiers to imprison. By order of a British Colonel
McPherson, the invading soldiers took the Motte home for they to stay in, while Rebecca, her married daughter Mary (whose husband was off fighting the British) and two unmarried daughters went to live in the overseer
's small house. Mrs. Motte managed to bring a few things with her.
The British built an improvised log fort around the main house for security, but the overseer's house was outside it and the Motte women were pleased to act as spies for the American troops. After a while, the American Colonel Lee told her that the only way to get the invaders out was to burn the house down, despite its relative newness. Rebecca Motte was such a patriot that not only did she agree to setting her own house on fire, but she said she had something that would help to do it -- a gift from a sea captain friend, a quiver of East Indian arrows with treated tips that would burst into flame upon striking. (Her graddaughter said she used the quiver as a knitting needle case, which is presumably why she brought it with her.)
American sharp-shooters fired the arrows from their rifles and hit the roof, setting it on fire; then they picked off the British soldiers who came to put it out. The British put up a white flag to surrender, and then both sides joined in putting out the fire -- only the roof of the house was burned. That evening, the officers of both sides had a formal dinner with Mrs. Motte, "who received all with equal courtesy."
quote and information from Eliza Pinckney (Women of Colonial and Revolutionary Times) by Harriott Horry Ravenel, 1896.