The Nancy Harts
The home of Sen. Benjamin Harvey
Hill, Belleview is a major landmark
in LaGrange. The Nancy Harts
drilled in a grove belonging to Sen.
The Nancy Harts of LaGrange, Georgia
|The Nancy Harts
Built during the 1830s, this beautiful old home in
Lagrange was once the residence of Mrs. Peter
Heard, a lieutenant in the Nancy Harts.
Crack Female Infantry in 1865
The Nancy Harts, well-trained female infantry
soldiers, were among the last Confederates
to prepare for battle east of the Mississippi
Formed in 1861 for self-defense purposes,
the company was made up of women from in
and around LaGrange, Georgia. They drilled
twice weekly and formed a line of battle to
defend their town on April 17, 1865.
The story of the Nancy Harts is one of the
most fascinating to emerge from the brutal
and bloody years of the War Between the
States (or Civil War). According to the Atlanta
Southern Confederacy, the company formed
on May 25,1861:
We are informed that the ladies of LaGrange,
to the number of about forty, organized
themselves on Saturday last, into a military
corps for the purpose of drilling and target
practice. They elected Dr. A.C. Ware as their
Captain; and, we believe, resolved to meet
every Saturday. (Southern Confederacy, June 1, 1861)
The women agreed to drill twice weekly and
dubbed themselves the Nancy Harts after a
famed Georgia heroine of the American
The original Nancy Hart (ca. 1765-1830) lived
on the frontier in Elbert County, Georgia. The
area was called the "Hornet's Nest" during
the Revolutionary War.
While much about her life is speculative,
most sources hold that Mrs. Hart was 6-feet
tall and a tough, determined settler. She was
supposedly called "War Woman" by the
American Indians of the area and legend
holds that she took part in the Battle of Kettle
Creek on February 14, 1779.
The best known story about Nancy Hart tells
of how she disarmed a party of six Tories
after they killed her prize turkey gobbler and
demanded that she cook it for them. She
shot two of the men to death and then joined
neighbors in hanging the other four.
Please click here to learn more about the
original Nancy Hart.
For years after the Revolution, Hart was
remembered as a symbol of female courage
in Georgia. When the ladies of LaGrange
decided to form a military company in 1861,
they accordingly dubbed themselves the
Using whatever arms they could obtain, the
Nancy Harts drilled twice each week. While
their initial efforts Although their initial efforts
were said to have been as clumsy as those
of other militia organizations of the time, the
ladies soon developed military skills. Their
target practice improved and they learned
infantry tactics and drill.
They drilled for four years, while also serving
as nurses at the Confederate military
hospitals in LaGrange. There were some
alarms during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign,
but no attack against the city took place and
the soldiers of the Nancy Harts were spared
their baptism of fire.
The situation changed on Easter Sunday of
1865 when Brig. Gen. R.C. Tyler telegraphed
from nearby West Point that he was facing
attack from a large force of Union cavalry. All
of the wounded able to walk left the hospitals
in LaGrange and marched west to join the
Gen. Tyler and his fewer than 300 men held
Fort Tyler for 8 hours against more than
3,000 Union soldiers. In the end, though, the
brave general was killed and the Federals
occupied his fort at 6 p.m. on the evening of
April 16, 1865.
Led by Col. Oscar H. LaGrange, the Union
force began its final advance on the town of
LaGrange first thing the next morning. It is a
quirk of history that the Union commander
bore the name of the town he was about to
attack, but there was no connection between
him and the family that had given the city its
It did not take long for news to spread in
LaGrange that the Federal troops were
approaching. Alarm bells were sounded and
panic rippled through the streets. Civilians
started to flee as the few Confederates that
escaped the fall of West Point retreated
In the midst of this scene of chaos, however,
the Nancy Harts formed ranks at the home of
2nd Lt. Mrs. Mary Heard. The retreating male
soldiers and others begged them to go
home and lock their doors, but the women
Her company assembled and ready to fight,
1st Lt. Mrs. Nannia Morgan marched the
Nancy Harts out the West Point road over
College Hill to meet the enemy. They
numbered perhaps 40 in all, but as Col.
LaGrange's more than 3,000 men came into
view the lieutenant and her women wheeled
into a line of battle and prepared to fight.
Col. LaGrange did not mention the incident in
his report, but members of the Nancy Harts
later recalled that a captured Confederate
major intervened before shots could be fired.
The prisoner pleaded for the Union officer to
LaGrange had no desire to open fire on the
Nancy Harts and quickly accepted the captive
major's offer to negotiate a truce. The two
men went forward together and the
Confederate officer introduced the Union
colonel to Lt. Morgan.
According to the eyewitness accounts of
members of the Nancy Harts, LaGrange
complimented them on their gallantry and
offered to spare their homes and families if
they would withdraw. The women agreed and
marched back into town.
The Union troops did considerable damage
to the tannery, railroad and other facilities in
LaGrange, but the Union colonel kept his
word to the Nancy Harts and spared the
private residences of the city. They hosted a
dinner for him that evening as a show of their
From LaGrange the Union troops continued
on to Macon where they learned that the war
was officially over. The women of the Nancy
Harts returned home to live out their lives and
tell the story of their military careers to
Belleview, the home of Sen. Benjamin Harvey
Hill where the female Confederate soldiers
drilled in a grove of trees, is now a museum.
It is located at 204 Ben Hill Street, LaGrange,
Georgia, and is open to the public Tuesday -
Saturday from 10 a.m. - 12 noon and 2 p.m. -
4 p.m. (Closed Sunday & Monday).
Please click here to learn more.
The Heard home on nearby Church Street
was the home of 2nd Lt. Mrs. Peter Heard of
the Nancy Harts and it was here the company
formed for its march to meet the Federals on
April 17, 1865. The house is private but can
be viewed from the sidewalk.
Please click here to learn more about historic
The Road up College Hill
The Union troops approached
LaGrange via this road. It was also
the scene of their almost battle with
the Nancy Harts.
A magnificent fountain and square
greet visitors to downtown
LaGrange, home of the Nancy
|Copyright 2011 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: April 17, 2015
Officers of the Nancy Harts
Dr. A.C. Ware, Captain
Mrs. Nannia Morgan, 1st Lt.
Mrs. Peter A. Heard, 2nd Lt.
Miss Aley Smith, 3rd Lt.
Miss Andelle Bull, 1st Sgt.
Miss Augusta Hill, 2nd Sgt.
Miss M.E. Colquitt, 3rd Sgt.
Miss Pack Beall, 1st Corp.
Miss Lelia Pullen, 2nd Corp.
Miss Sallie Bull, 3rd Corp.
Miss Ella Key, Treasurer
Source: Atlanta Southern Confederacy,
June 1, 1861, p. 2.
THE NANCY HARTS
Female Confederate Soldiers of LaGrange, Georgia