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Allen, William Henry (21 October 1784–18 August 1813), U.S. naval officer and hero of the War of 1812, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of militia general William Allen, a veteran of the Revolution, and Sarah Jones, sister of William Jones, future governor of Rhode Island. William Henry’s parents were prosperous members of Providence society and intended for him to follow a civilian career. His early education provided him with a good grounding in penmanship and mathematics (the latter proved useful in his naval career) and also with considerable skill as an artist. He made very competent sketches in his letters and the blank pages of his journals and did pen and ink portraits of his family. His only surviving likeness, a profile portrait, is probably based on a sketch done by Allen himself....

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Bailey, Ann Hennis Trotter (1742–22 November 1825), revolutionary war scout, was born in Liverpool, England. Little is known about her parents, although it is believed that her father had been a soldier under the duke of Marlborough’s command. As Bailey was literate, she received an education in Liverpool, although details of it are not recorded. Orphaned as a young adult, she immigrated to America in the wake of relatives named Bell. She arrived in Staunton, Virginia, at the Bells’ home, in 1761. In 1765 she married Richard Trotter, a frontiersman and Indian fighter, and they had a son in 1767. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, recruited men in 1774 to fight the marauding Indians who were disrupting the settlers on or near the Scioto River. Richard Trotter volunteered and followed Colonel Charles Lewis to the point where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet, known as Point Pleasant. He was killed in the battle there on 10 October 1774....

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Carney, William Harvey (1840–after 1901), Union army sergeant and first African American awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Carney and Ann, a former slave. Little is known of his early years. As a young boy he expressed an interest in the ministry, and at the age of fourteen, in 1854, he attended a covertly run school under the tutelage of a local minister. Later he moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he took odd jobs in the hope of saving sufficient funds to acquire his religious training....

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Corbin, Margaret Cochran (12 November 1752–1800), revolutionary war heroine, was a . The details of her early life are based on an undocumented source that indicates she was born in Pennsylvania in what is now Franklin County, the daughter of Robert Cochran. Her mother’s name is not known. In 1756, Native Americans killed her father and abducted her mother. Margaret and her brother John, who might have been visiting their mother’s brother, escaped capture and were subsequently raised by their uncle. She was probably still living in Pennsylvania when she married John Corbin, a Virginian by birth, in about 1772. Although a 1782 source referred to a son being killed in the Revolution, the couple apparently had no children. When John went to war, Margaret, who at about five feet eight inches was tall for the era, accompanied him....

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Ellsworth, Elmer Ephraim (11 April 1837–24 May 1861), soldier, was born in Malta, New York, the son of Ephraim D. Ellsworth, a tailor, and Phoebe Denton. At an early age he developed what his mother called a “military propensity,” but after failing to secure a West Point appointment he worked as a grocery clerk in Mechanicville, New York, and later in dry goods houses in Troy, New York, and New York City. In 1854 he moved to Chicago to become a partner in a patent-soliciting concern, an enterprise that collapsed when an agent absconded with the firm’s funds. By early 1859 he was reading law in Chicago while taking an active interest in local militia affairs....

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Flora, William (fl. 1775–1818), war hero and businessman, was born probably in the vicinity of Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of free black parents, whose names are unknown. On the eve of the American Revolution fewer than 2,000 free blacks lived in Virginia. The colony’s statutes forbade the manumission of slaves except those who exposed an incipient slave uprising. Consequently, Flora, who was known as “Billy,” was probably descended from Africans who arrived in Virginia before 1640, when blacks were treated like indentured servants rather than slaves....

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Geiger, Emily (1763–1793), revolutionary courier and folk heroine, was probably born in Upcountry South Carolina among German‐speaking Swiss who began settling in the so‐called Dutch Fork between the Broad and Saluda rivers in the 1730s. Early Geiger grants were in Saxegotha Township. Some traditions name her parents as John and Barbara Zanger Geiger....

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Hale, Nathan (06 June 1755–22 September 1776), martyr of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, successful farmers. A sickly infant, he barely survived his first year, but as he grew he became an outdoorsman and a powerful athlete. He enjoyed reading, and his father decided to prepare him for the ministry, first by hiring Rev. Joseph Huntington to tutor him and then by sending him in 1769 to Yale College. At Yale he was widely admired by his teachers and fellow students. Dr. ...

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Hart, Nancy (1735–1830), revolutionary war heroine, was born Ann Morgan, in Pennsylvania or North Carolina, the daughter of Thomas Morgan and Rebecca Alexander. Nothing is known of her childhood except that she grew up in North Carolina. Portrayed as “unlearned” in most accounts, she probably received little education. She married Benjamin Hart, a Virginia-born North Carolinian, with whom she had eight children. In the early 1770s the Harts migrated to Georgia and settled in the upcountry area that became Elbert County. There her revolutionary exploits took place. Like many uneducated eighteenth-century women who left no personal writings, the real Nancy Hart is an elusive figure, making it difficult to separate fact from myth. The early information of her deeds was oral tradition, with the earliest extant written accounts dating to the 1840s. She does not appear in the earliest Georgia histories, and even modern Georgia scholars have dealt with her in qualified terms....

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John Paul Jones. Color lithograph with the inscription "Painted after an etching by Moreau made from the life in 1780." Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2761).

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Jones, John Paul (06 July 1747–18 July 1792), revolutionary war naval officer and hero, was born John Paul in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, on the southwestern coast of Scotland, the son of John Paul, a gardener, and Jean MacDuff. After attending the local Presbyterian school, he apprenticed at age thirteen to a shipowner at the nearby port of Whitehaven. His first ship made several voyages that carried provisions to Barbados, thence rum and sugar to Virginia, and returned to Whitehaven with tobacco. The postwar economic slump ended his apprenticeship and sent him briefly into the slave trade, which he called “abominable.” At twenty-one Paul was master and supercargo of a ship sailing out of Kirkcudbright to the West Indies. Returning to Scotland from Tobago, he was briefly jailed in 1770 on a charge of murder, for having flogged a sailor who later died. Exonerated, Paul became the master of a large West Indies trader out of London. Again he found trouble in Tobago: during a mutiny he killed a sailor in what he claimed was self-defense. Perhaps in fear for his life, he fled to Virginia in October 1773 and became “Mr. John Jones.”...

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Kelly, Colin Purdie (11 July 1915–10 December 1941), army pilot, was born in Madison, Florida, the son of Colin Purdie Kelly, Sr., and Mary Mays. After attending high school in his hometown, Kelly spent a year at the Marion Military Institute in Florida before receiving an appointment to West Point in 1933. While there, he met Marion Wick, a stenographer, whom he wed in 1937, shortly after graduation; they had one son. Although commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry, Kelly requested to be assigned to the Army Air Corps, and in September he was sent to Randolph Field to receive his pilot’s training. In October 1939 he went to Texas for advanced training. In January 1940 formal induction into the Army Air Corps followed and Kelly was assigned to the Nineteenth Bombing Group at March Field, California. Kelly made captain on 9 September 1940. His career would have been similar to that of most young officer graduates in World War II had it not been for circumstances surrounding his death....

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Lafayette, James (1748–09 August 1830), patriot spy, also known to history as James Armistead, was born in slavery; little is recorded of his parentage or early life except that he belonged to William Armistead of New Kent County, Virginia. In the summer of 1781 James was attending his master while Armistead worked as a commissary in Richmond, supplying patriot forces under the command of the ...

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Logan, James (1776?–23 November 1812), Shawnee warrior, whose Indian name was Spemica Lawba, the High Horn, and who became an American hero in the War of 1812, was born in Ohio. His parentage is unknown. According to a friend, John Allen, he was a mixed-blood whose Indian mother was related to ...

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Lucas, Jack (14 February 1928–05 June 2008), marine and Medal of Honor recipient, was born Jacklyn Harrell Lucas in Plymouth, North Carolina, the son of Louis Harold Lucas, a tobacco farmer, and Margaret Edwards. After the death of Louis Lucas in 1939, Margaret enrolled her son at Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg, North Carolina. The military environment provided young Jack discipline, a military aptitude, and a way of life he loved....

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Ludington, Sybil (05 April 1761–26 February 1839), revolutionary heroine, was born and raised in Dutchess County, New York (in an area that is now part of Putnam County), the daughter of Henry Ludington, a farmer and miller of Dutchess County, and Abigail Knowles Ludington of Branford, Connecticut. Her name is sometimes spelled Sibyl, and her gravestone reads “Sibbell.” Henry Ludington was a member of the New York Assembly in the 1770s and 1780s, a justice of the peace, and a member of the revolutionary Committee of Safety....

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Dorie Miller. In background, ships at Pearl Harbor are depicted sinking. Poster by David Stone Martin, 1943. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-2328).

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Miller, Dorie (12 October 1919–24 November 1943), African-American war hero, was born Doris Miller in Waco, Texas, the son of Conery Miller and Henrietta (maiden name unknown), sharecroppers. Miller attended Waco’s segregated Moore High School and became the school’s 200-pound star fullback. As the third of four sons in a family engaged in subsistence farming, however, he was forced to drop out of school to find work. In September 1939 he joined the navy as a mess attendant....

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Murphy, Audie (20 June 1924–28 May 1971), soldier and film actor, was born Audie Leon Murphy in Hunt County, Texas, the son of Emmett Murphy and Josie Bell Killian, tenant farmers. Murphy was reared in the rural poverty familiar to Texas sharecropping families in the 1920s and 1930s. With barely a fifth-grade education, he left home at fifteen, facing what looked to be a bleak future. Then came Pearl Harbor, and, just after his eighteenth birthday in June 1942, he enlisted in the army. Shorter, thinner, and younger than the average GI, Murphy as an infantryman capitalized on his hunting skills and, from Sicily, through Italy and France, and into Germany, exhibited uncommon aggressiveness against the enemy. His prowess and initiative in combat earned him a battlefield commission and his country’s highest decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor for his daring standoff (firing a machine gun atop a burning tank destroyer) against a German counterattack at the Colmar Pocket in Alsace in January 1945....

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Molly Pitcher. Lithograph by Nathaniel Currier, c. 1886. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-5030).