Women in 18th-century warfare

Active warfare throughout recorded history has predominantly involved male combatants; however, women have also contributed to military activities including as combatants. The following list describes women known to have participated in military actions in the 18th century. For women in warfare in the United States at this time, please see Timeline of women in war in the United States, Pre-1945.

Timeline of women in warfare from 18th century warfare worldwide (except the present US)

Mai Bhago
Julianna Géczy
Margareta von Ascheberg
Anna Colbjørnsdatter
Dahomey Amazons
Phoebe Hessel
Hannah Snell
Mah Laqa Bai
Begum Samru
Manuela Beltrán
Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua
Statue of Bartolina Sisa alongside Túpac Katari
Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon
Dorothea Maria Lösch
Renée Bordereau
Céleste Bulkeley
Marie-Thérèse Figueur
Franziska Scanagatta

18th century


  • 1710s: During the Great Northern War, Maria Faxell, the wife of a vicar, defends her village against a Norwegian attack by handing out old weapons to both men and women during her husband's absence.[25]
  • 1711–1721: Ingela Gathenhielm operates the Swedish Privateering fleet jointly with her husband during the Great Northern War; when widowed in 1718, she continues herself.[26]
  • 1712–1714: Anna Jöransdotter from Finland serves in the Swedish army under the named Johan Haritu.[27]
  • 1712–1717: Three unnamed females are discovered to have served in the Dutch Marines dressed as males.[20]
  • 1713–1721: Margareta Elisabeth Roos serves in the Swedish army while disguised as a man.[28]
  • 1713–1726: Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar serves in the Swedish army under Charles XII of Sweden during the Great Northern War.[27]
  • 1713–1714: Annika Svahn, as well as several other enslaved Finnish women taken captive by the Russians, are forced to participate in the Russian conquest of Swedish Finland on the battle fields during the Greater Wrath dressed in Russian dragoon uniforms.[29]
  • 1715: Two unnamed women are rumored to have served among the soldiers in the Swedish army, one of them a wife of one of the soldiers, who by this point was to have served for a period of four years.[27]
  • 1715-1718: Anna Maria Christmann serve dressed as a man in the Austrian army under Prince Eugene of Savoy during the Ottoman–Venetian War (1714–1718).[30]
  • 1716: Norwegian Anna Colbjørnsdatter is granted the success in the victory over the Swedes at the Battle of Norderhov in Norway during the Great Northern War 29 March 1716 by capturing 600 Swedish soldiers.[31]
  • 1716: Norwegian Kari Hiran averts the Swedish attempt to conquer Norway by feeding them false information about the size of the Norwegian army.[32]
  • 1718: Hangbe in the Kingdom of Dahomey becomes the regent after her twin brother Akaba is killed. She may have led military campaigns.[33]
  • 1719: Brita Olsdotter, an old Swedish woman, meets the Russian army, who marches against Linköping after having burnt Norrköping, and makes them turn around and leave after telling them that reinforcements were arriving to assist Linköping.[34]


  • 1720–1739: Granny Nanny, a spiritual leader of the Maroons of Jamaica, leads rebel slaves to victory in First Maroon War.[35]
  • 1721: Comtesse de Polignac, previously the lover of Duc de Richelieu, fights a duel with her rival and successor, the Marchioness de Nesle.[36]
  • 1722: Six unnamed females are shipped back to the Netherlands after having been exposed to have served as males in either the Dutch Marines or army in an attempt to emigrate to the Dutch East Indies.[20]
  • 1723: Lumke Thoole serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a male under the name Jan Theunisz.[20]
  • 1725: Dutch woman Maria ter Meetelen serves in the Spanish army dressed as a man.[37]
  • 1726: Maria Elisabeth Meening served in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1727: Dahomey Amazons are founded. [38]



  • 1740: Ann Mills fights on the frigate Maidenstone as a dragoon.[41]
  • 1741–1743: Maria van de Gijessen served in the Dutch navy under then name Claes van de Gijessen.[42]
  • 1743: Johanna Sophia Kettner disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Austrian army.[43]
  • 1744: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1745: Jacobina (last name unknown) served in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1745: An unnamed female served in the Dutch navy dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1745: Phoebe Hessel fights in the Battle of Fontenoy. She had disguised herself as a man to do so.[44]
  • 1745: Scottish Mary Ralphson fights in the British army in Battle of Fontenoy dressed as a man[45]
  • 1746: Johanna Bennius serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a male under the name Jan Drop.[20]
  • 1746: Elisabeth Huyser serve in the Dutch army dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1746–1769: Maria van Antwerpen serves as a soldier in the Netherlands under the name Jan van Art.[46]
  • 1748: Gertruid van Duiren enlists and briefly serve in the Dutch army before being discovered[47]
  • 1747–1750: Hannah Snell, serve disguised as a man in the Royal Marine: her military service is officially recognized in 1750, and she is granted a pension.[48]


  • 1750: Maria Sophia Stording serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[20]
  • 1751: Two unnamed soldiers of the Dutch navy are discovered to be females dressed as males.[20]
  • 1754: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch army dressed as a man.[20]
  • 1755: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[20]
  • 1756: Soldier Jochem Wiesse of the Dutch army are discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1757: Sailor "Arthur Douglas" is revealed to be a woman. Her birth-name is unknown.[49]
  • 1757: An unnamed female serve in the Dutch army dressed as a man.[20]
  • 1757–58: Two unnamed females serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a males.[20]
  • 1759–1771: Mary Lacy serves as a Marine carpenter under the name of "William Chandler".[50]


  • 1760s: Petronella van den Kerkhof possibly serve in the Dutch army as a grenadier: however, as she was not discovered during service, this is unconfirmed.[51]
  • 1760–1761: A woman serves in the British Marines as "William Prothero".[49]
  • 1762: Rafaela Herrera inspires the outnumbered Spanish defenders to victory during a 1762 British siege of the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception in El Castillo village within El Castillo municipality, Nicaragua.[52]
  • 1763: After the assassination of her husband Diego, Filipina Gabriela Silang decided to continue his rebellion in Ilocos against Spain but was unsuccessful.[53]
  • 1764: The Dutch soldier Tiesheld is discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1765: A unnamed member of the Dutch navy is discovered to be a female dressed as a male.[20]
  • 1768: Birth of Mah Laqa Bai. Due to her archery skills, she accompanied the Nizam II (Mir Nizam Ali Khan) in three wars;[54]
  • 1769: Anna Sophia Spiesen serve in the Dutch army dressed as a male under the name Claas Paulusse.[20]


  • 1770–1771: Margareta Reymers serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man: she is discovered by her pregnancy.[55]
  • 1772: Mademoiselle de Guignes and Mademoiselle d'Aguillon fight a duel in Paris.[56]
  • 1775: On Dec. 11, Jemima Warner was killed by an enemy bullet during the siege of Quebec. Mrs. Warner had originally accompanied her husband, PVT James Warner of Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, to Canada because she feared that he would become sick on the campaign trail and she wanted to nurse him. When PVT Warner eventually died in the wilderness en route to Quebec, Mrs. Warner buried him and stayed with the battalion as a cook.[57]
  • 1778: Baltazara Chuiza leads a rebellion against the Spanish in Ecuador.[58]
  • 1778: Sikh princess Bibi Rajindar Kaur leads 3,000 soldiers to rescue her cousin who was defeated by Hari Singh.[59]
  • 1778–1803: The ruling Princess of Sardhana, Begum Samru (Johanna Noblis), leads her armies in war.[60]


  • 1780: Rani Velu Nachiar of Sivagangai Poligar leads a female army against the East India Company forces.[61]
  • 1780: Manuela Beltrán organizes a peasant revolt in Colombia.[62]
  • 1780: Ñusta Huillac of the Kolla tribe rebels against the Spanish in Chile.[63]
  • 1780s: Swedish runaway Carin du Rietz becomes a soldier at the royal guard.[64]
  • 1780–1781: Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua recruits and leads men and women in battle during a rebellion against the Spanish rule in Peru. She is eventually captured and executed by the Spanish.[65]
  • 1780–1781: Maria van Spanje serve in the Dutch navy for eight months dressed as a male: she is discovered while trying to repeat this when enlisting anew in 1782.[66]
  • 1781: Lena Catharina Wasmoet serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man under the name Claas Waal.[20]
  • 1781: Gregoria Apaza, an Aymara woman, leads an uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia.[67]
  • 1781: Margaret Thompson serves in the Royal Marines under the name George Thompson.[68]
  • 1782: Anna Maria Everts serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man.[20]
  • 1782: Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara woman who led an indigenous uprising against the Spanish in Bolivia, is captured and executed.[69]
  • 1783: Johanna Dorothea Heeght serve in the Dutch navy dressed as a man under the name Johannes Hegt.[20]
  • 1785: According to Thai legend, Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon, two sisters, help repel a Burmese invasion of Thailand by dressing as male soldiers and rallying the troops.[70][71][72][73][74]
  • 1787–1807: A woman serves twenty years in the Royal Marines under the name "Tom Bowling"[49]
  • 1787: The wife of the German colonel Schutz is reported to have accompanied her spouse dressed as a male in warfare and having been wounded two times in Russian service.[75]
  • 1788–1790: After the war between Russia and Sweden, several of the soldiers decorated in the Swedish army are discovered to be women in disguise. One of them is Brita Hagberg, who enlisted in search of her husband; she is given a military pension.[76]
  • 1788–1790: During the Russo-Swedish war, Anna Maria Engsten, after a battle at sea, singlehandedly steers one of the boats back to Sweden after having been left alone onboard after its evacuation; she is decorated for bravery at sea.[77]
  • 1788–1790: During the Battle of Svensksund, Dorothea Maria Lösch takes command of a Swedish ship and is rewarded with the rank of captain of the Swedish fleet.[78]


See also


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Further reading

  • Cook, Bernard, ed. Women and War: Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present (2006).
  • Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Women and War (1995)
  • Elshtain Jean, and Sheila Tobias, eds. Women, Militarism, and War (1990)
  • Mayer, Holly A. Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution (University of South Carolina Press, 1996)
  • Jones, David. Women Warriors: A History (Brassey's, 1997)
  • Martino-Trutor, Gina Michelle. "Her Extraordinary Sufferings and Services": Women and War in New England and New France, 1630–1763" PhD Dissertation, U of Minnesota, 2012. online
  • Pennington, Reina. Amazons to Fighter Pilots: A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women (2003).