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Prudence Cummings Wright was born in November of 1740 in Dunstable, Massachusetts. Her family was a large and close one and the children were encouraged from a young age to discuss politics and share varying political opinions.
As such, with the rumblings of revolution, Prudence and her family were divided. Some, like Prudence, leaned towards independence from Britain while others, like two of her brothers, chose to side with the Tories who remained supportive of Britain. The upcoming war would divide not only countrymen, but would divide Prudence’s family as well.
But it did not divide Prudence and her husband, David Wright, whom Prudence married in 1761. Both were Whigs who strongly supported independence. When the couple settled in Pepperell, Massachusetts, they became strong leaders of the revolution among the population there. In fact, Pepperell as a whole sided with the Whigs and the women of the town were no less patriotic than the men. In April of 1775, when fighting began at Lexington, news that the Redcoats were advancing toward Concord sent the men of Pepperell, including Prudence’s husband, marching to Groton, a village five miles away, to meet and hopefully stop them.
Prudence and the other women of Pepperell were not content to stay at home, however. Prudence organized them and was elected commander of these women who called themselves, “Minutewomen” and who were as brave and energetic as their male counterparts. At Prudence’s prompting, the Minutewomen marched to Jewett’s Bridge spanning the Nashua River between Pepperell and Groton, and there armed with muskets and pitchforks and dressed as men, took a stand. Their intention was to “scare off the Redcoats before they could cross the bridge.”
The women, who now referred to themselves as the, “Prudence Wright Guard”, did just what they set out to do. Together, the group of around 30-40 women stopped the advance group of Redcoats at Jewett’s bridge, capturing many of them while retrieving important dispatches about Redcoat movements. Among those captured and then taken to nearby homes where they were held, was Prudence’s favorite brother, Samuel. Later, he along with the other prisoners, were released but forced to leave the colony. Prudence never saw her brother again.
This small victory gave the colonists of Massachusetts great hope for other victories to come. Both David and Prudence continued to support and fight for the colonies during the Revolutionary War. While doing so, they continued to serve in the community, work, and raise 11 children. Both eventually died in Pepperell with David dying in 1819 a the age of 93 while Prudence followed in 1823 at 84. Prudence’s grave bears the inscription: “ In Memory of The Captain of the Bridge Guard.”
Further honor is given her and the other Minutewomen on a granite tablet near Jewettt’s Bridge which reads, “Near this spot a party of patriotic women, under the leadership of Mrs. David Wright, of Pepperell, in April, 1775, captured Leonard Whiting, a Tory who was carrying treasonable dispatches to the enemy at Boston. He was taken prisoner to Groton, and the dispatches were sent to the Committee of Safety at Cambridge.”