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Medal of the Month #12 -
The Margaret Catharine Moore Barry Medal

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Each month there is a special South Carolina token or medal that is highlighted as the Token or Medal of the Month. Last month we examined a medal commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens. This month, recognition goes to a more modern medal also relating to the Battle of Cowpens.

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The 44mm pewter medal pictured above was struck by the Franklin Mint in 1975 as part of its "Great Women of the American Revolution" series. The obverse pictures "the heroine of the Battle of Cowpens" riding a horse across a stream. The reverse features her name - Margaret Catharine Moore Barry - and the following legend: "She became the heroine of the Battle of Cowpens by volunteering as a scout for the patriots of South Carolina. Her mission assured an important American victory." The edge is marked "fine pewter" along with the year date and Franklin Mint's hallmark. The marketing of the medal was undoubtedly timed to take advantage of the hoopla surrounding our nation's bicentennial in 1976. There are at least two other medals in this series honoring two additional South Carolina women instrumental to the patriot cause.

Margaret Catharine (Kate) Moore Barry was the oldest of 10 children born to Charles and Mary Moore. The Moore family was one of the first families to migrate into the Piedmont area of South Carolina, settling in what is now Spartanburg County in the early 1760s. In 1767, at the age of 15, she married Andrew Barry, who later became Captain and Commanding Officer of a local militia group during the Revolutionary War. The Barrys were staunch patriots and, along with the remainder of the Moore family, were the leaders of the patriot cause in that part of the upcountry. The Moore family home, where Kate grew up, became the focal point of anti-loyalist forces during the war. The homeplace still exists and is now called Walnut Grove Plantation. See photo below.

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Walnut Grove Plantation as it appears today.

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Kate Barry was often called upon to aid her husband in his efforts against British forces. The incident that is commemorated by this month's medal concerns her efforts prior to the Battle of Cowpens. Kate learned of Colonel Banastre Tarleton's (see last month's article) advances toward the area called the Cow Pens. She knew that the soldiers from her husband's militia unit had all returned to their farms and that all available men were desperately needed to halt the enemy's advance. So she set out on her horse, bravely fording the Tyger River at night, to alert the members of her husband's company to hurry to the Cow Pens. Thanks to Kate's ride, the men were able to make it to the battlefield in time to participate in one of the decisive battles of the Revolutionary War.

In 1963, writer Harry Russell Wilkins wrote a poem about Kate's ride that night. It appears in its entirety below:

"Sleep well, my Babe! May God protect my child!
I must be on my way, for Tarleton and
His British ‘Red-coats' camp on the Pacolet
To-night. They follow Daniel Morgan fast!"

While tying "Baby Kate" to the bed-post fond,
Brave mother Kate kissed her again, and said:
"I must be on my way to spread the news
From farm to farm, from house to house, ere dawn!"

And, so, Kate Barry mounted "Dolly" for
That cold night-ride to rouse the countryside;
And speaking to her faithful steed, she cried:
"Let's go, ‘Doll', duty calls us now! Let's go!"

Then off they went, up hill, and down hill, too!
Across the meadows, through the woods they sped,
To ford the Tyger Rivers, or swim "old Enoree".
The news of marching "Red-coats" promptly spread.

As "Dolly's" hoof-beats made new history,
Kate rode to warn the Whigs to quickly join
arms at "The Cowpens"; her swift, urgent ride
Helped General Morgan rout dread Tarleton there!

The County of Spartanburg, South Carolina
Historic home of famed, beloved Kate Barry,
Shall ever stand, a worthy monument
To noble, patriotic womanhood.

We proudly rank you, our Kate Barry, with
Brave Daniel Morgan, Andrew Pickens, too.
They knew you as a patriot who made
Your War-time contribution, as did they.

We now salute you as a prototype
Of those who fought for the Cause of Liberty,
In America's Revolutionary War.
May your heroic sort forever thrive!

Copyright 2000 by Tony Chibbaro.

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NOTE: If you wish to PURCHASE one of these medals depicting Kate Barry (or any of the other great women honored on this set of pewter medallions by the Franklin Mint), please click on this link: Purchase Kate Barry Medal.

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The Lives They Lived: A Look at Women in the History of Spartanburg edited by Linda Powers Bilanchone, 1981.

Figures of the Revolution in South Carolina: An Anthology Southern Studies Program of the University of South Carolina, 1976.

Kate Barry's Famous Ride by Harry Russell Wilkins, 1963.

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If you collect or have a casual interest in South Carolina tokens or tokens issued by cotton mills, lumber companies, or other types of businesses, you may want to purchase my book, South Carolina Tokens and its two supplements. To read a description of these standard references, please click on this link: Books.

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Token or Medal of the Month Main Page
A Short History of Token Use in South Carolina
South Carolina Trade Tokens for Sale - Page 1
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