Sally Ridley, Defender of the Fort

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About Sally Ridley, Defender of the Fort

Notes for Sarah Ridley:

The Heroine of Buchanan Station, Davidson County, TN. A great journal of this battle has been preserved.

"... was born in eastern Tennessee ... and had thirteen children, many of whom were distinguished. She was a woman of remarkable courage and fortitude; cool and self-commanding, and being united to a husband who was a celebrated pioneer and Indian-fighter, her associations were calculated to develop those traits of character so necessary in women of the frontier settlements.

Her husband had implicit confidence in his wife's judgement, and confided to her all his plans and undertakings, many of which were carefully overlooked by her, and of which she in person promptly executed during the memorable battle at his fort, on the 30th of September, 1792, when the Indians, -- about nine hundred warriors from the combined Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Creeks, -- made an attack at midnight, but were badly defeated by only twenty-one men in the fort. In this fierce conflice of battle, the intrepidity of Mrs. Buchanan's courage, and fearless deeds performed by her, crowned her through life as a model Indian-fighter of the West.

Her son, in a letter to the author, says of his mother: "Her many virtues vie with proud fame of Tennessee's greatness; her posterity from five generations is as numerous as the leaves on some forest tree, and, although she died in 1832, she lives in remembrance and affection among hosts of Tennessee's citizenship." She is said to have been the third white woman born in her State."

History of the Ancient Ryedales, Ridlons, Ridleys

Josephus Corin Guild writes in Old Times in Tennessee, "The attack was so sudden and the emergency so great that no time was lost by the inmates of the fort in dressing, and they commenced the fight with only the clothes on — many in only their under garments — in which they had retired for the night."

Mrs. Buchanan ran through the fort resupplying men with powder, bullets and liquor. Guild tells us that during the fight, she found one man in the fort not fighting. "I would rather be killed fighting like a man," she scolded him, "than be crouching in the corner like a coward. Go to your gun this instant, for your own credit's sake." This, of course, inspired him to return to the fight.

For an hour the battle raged and then, finally, the Indians retreated*** and Buchanan Station was safe. The attack on Nashville did not go forward.

"The Scots-Irish Chronicles: Women of the Frontier"

Throughout the Battle of Buchanan’s Station, Sally, nine months pregnant with the couple’s first child, was the heroic voice of victory. She encouraged the riflemen at every turn, molded bullets when the supply ran low (reportedly by melting her dinnerware), blocked another woman in the station from surrendering herself and her children to almost certain death, and helped fool the Indians by a “showing of hats.” Sally’s uncommon spunk was extolled by biographer Elizabeth Ellet in her 1856 volume, The Women of the American Revolution, which referred to her as “the greatest heroine of the West.” Periodicals from as far away as Boston immortalized Sarah, some fancifully, and she was listed in at least two national encyclopedias of biography (Appleton’s and Herringshaw’s).

Sarah2 Ridley (George1) was born 28 Nov 1773 in E. TN, and died 23 Nov 1831 in Nashville, Davidson, TN. She married John Buchanan, Jr. 1791 in Davidson Co., TN, son of John Buchanan and Jane Trindle. He was born 12 Jan 1759 in Harrisburg, PA, and died 06 Nov 1832 in Buchanan Sta., Mill Creek, Davidson, TN.

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Sally Ridley, Defender of the Fort's Timeline

November 30, 1773
Tennessee, United States
July 11, 1792
Davidson Co., TN.
March 22, 1794
Davidson Co., TN.
February 22, 1795
December 29, 1795
Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States
Buchanan Sta., Davidson, TN;
Buchanan Sta., Davidson, TN;