Elizabeth was a patriot that was forced to flee her home during the Revolutionary War after the British put a L200 bounty for capture.  This amount nearly equaled twenty years of pay of the average British soldier.  Her crime?…   She aided American patriot prisoners in New York.  Some historians state she helped more than 200 prisoners escape. Others state she also provided food to patriot prisoners in ships in at Wallabout Bay (near New York City).   I believe that she did both.  Elizabeth left her mark on the American Revolution.



Here is a letter from Elizabeth Burgin to George Washington.    I attempted a few edits of the letter for the ease of reading… but have also included the original text in italics at the end of this blog.


To George Washington from Elizabeth Burgin
Philadelphia March 16, 1780

Kind General:

When I view the kind providence of God in delivering me through so many difficulties I think I cannot give him sufficient praise. At the same time I feel a heart full of gratitude for the many favors I have received from Your Excellency. Your order for rations for myself and three children are punctually obeyed, which is great relief to me in a strange place. I received a kind letter from your aid-de-camp informing me that Your Excellency had recommended me to the honorable Continental Congress—Congress have referred me to the Board of War in whose house I now live rent free & in some measure as comfortable as one under my destitute situation could expect.

I should be glad to see a French Fleet surrounding New York by water & the brave Americans Storming the lines by land. Were I a man, I think I should not want courage to be one of the foremost in mounting one of their strongest fortresses.

Pardon me dear sir for these expressions. It is probably an anxiety of mind for the home where I lived comfortably with my children caused me to drop them (share her expressions of patriotism). Though I believe with an unshaken faith that if those creatures who now possess New York don’t sneak off as they did from Boston, Philadelphia & Rhode Island, they will one day or another be cannonaded out. In the mean time, I should be glad I were able to put myself my in some way of business to support myself and children without being chargeable to Congress.

Accept of my hearty thanks for all the favors I have received thus -with my prayers for your welfare I conclude & make bold to subscribe myself, Your Excellency, as…

(Your) Most Obedient & Humble Servant

Elizabeth Burgin


She was awarded a pension in 1781, then wrote to Congress asking that she be given some work so that she could earn what she received. This unsung heroine received a pension thru at least 1787. There are conflicting death dates for Elizabeth Burgin…. ranging from 1787 thru 1808.

The unedited letter can be found below.


Kind General

When I Vew the Kind Prvidence of God in Delivering me Throw So many Dificultys I think I Canot Give him Sufficient Praise At the Same Time I Feel a hart Full of Gratitude For the Many Favours I have Recevd From Your Excelency Your Order: For Rations for my Self and Children Are Punktily Obeyd Witch is Great Relief to me in A Strange Place I Recev’d a Kind Letter From Your Aidicamp Informing me that Your Excelency had Recomended me to the honerable Continential Congress—Congress have Refferd me to the Board of War In Whose house I now Live Rent Free & in Some Measure as Comfortable As one under my Distitute Situation Could Expect. I Should Be Glad to See a French Fleett Surrounding New York By Watter & the Brave Americans Storming the Lines By Land & Were I a man I Think I Should not Want Courage to Be one of the Foremost in Mounting one of their Strongest Fortreses Pardon me Dear Sir For these Expressions Probaly an Annesity of Mind For the home W[h]ere I Lived Comfortably With my Children Caused me to Drop Them & Tho I Beleive With an Unshaken Faith that if Those Creatures Who now Pos[s]es[s] New York Dont Sneak of[f] as they Did From Boston Philada & Rode Iland the[y] Will one Day or Other Be Cannonaded out in the mean Time I Should Be Glad I Were Able to Putt my Self in Some Way of Buiseness to Suport my Self Children Without Being Chargeable to Congress Accept of my hearty Thank For all the Favours I have Receved thus With my Prayrs For Your Welfare I Conclude & Make Bold to Subscribe My Self Your Excelency Most Obeident Humble Servant

Elizabeth Burgin


“To George Washington from Elizabeth Burgin, 16 March 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-25-02-0044. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 25, 10 March–12 May 1780, ed. William M. Ferraro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, pp. 61–62.]


Welcome to “Sharing the Stories of History with Tim Mann”!


Meet Timothy A. Mann, a passionate historian born and raised in the heart of Shelby County, Ohio where Tim’s roots run deep in the rich soil of American history. As the author of articles and books, including “Frontier Miscellany Concerning the Miami County Ohio Militia,” “Colonel John Mann, His Kith and Kin,” and “Frontier Militia – The War of 1812,” Tim’s literary contributions have enlightened and inspired countless history enthusiasts.

Join Tim Mann on a journey through time as he shares fascinating tales, untold stories, and hidden gems from the annals of history. Let’s delve into the past together and uncover the wonders that await in “Sharing the Stories of History with Tim Mann.”

Leave a Reply