The approaching clop of horse hooves caught Elizabeth’s attention. She tossed the split log onto the small pile of wood, brushed a wisp of hair out of her face, and adjusted the heavy wrap around her shoulder. She squinted to identify the riders.
Her heart quickened. Who are those men? And what do they want?
The men slowed as they approached the farmhouse. Her daughter and daughter-in-law emerged from the barn. Elizabeth walked toward the men, tightly gripping the ax. She stopped and stood tall. In her peripheral vision, she saw her son, barely 10, pick up his father’s shotgun and step out of view into the shadows of the porch.
Lord, protect us!
The men came to a stop.
Both men tipped their hats. “We bring news from the battlefront.”
Elizabeth let the ax slip from her grip and clutched her chest. O Lord…not my husband. Not my boys…
“Two days ago, our patriots engaged in a squirmish with the Redcoats at Great Bridge. They were victorious. Your husband, and both of your sons, are in good health and send their regards.”
Elizabeth’s shoulders drooped in relief and tears welled in her eyes.
“Mr. Ferebee also asked me to tell you that your prayers availeth much and do not cease your petitions before Holy God. Have a good day, ma’am.”
Elizabeth nodded. The men continued on their journey.
Elizabeth closed her eyes and dropped to her knees.
While the above scene never occurred, it is one of many scenarios I have played in my mind.
I am the direct descendant of several Patriots who served in the American Revolution, including the Battle of Great Bridge. One ancestor, Elizabeth’s oldest son, took his oath of office at Valley Forge with General Washington.
Elizabeth Ferebee was my sixth great-grandmother. Her husband, three of her sons, a son-in-law, and his father fought for our nation’s independence. While the bravery of the men was obvious, the women left behind were just as courageous.
I can’t comprehend what it was like for Elizabeth to kiss her husband and sons farewell, believing strongly in the cause, but knowing she may never see them again. Months, or perhaps years, would pass before she would see them. If they were killed in battle, she may never know where they were buried. When the men went off to war, Elizabeth was left to care for four young children, grown daughters, daughters-in-law, and several grandchildren.
From recorded history, I know the Ferebees were a family of faith. I envision Elizabeth sitting in a rocking chair reading Scripture by candlelight and kneeling bedside on rough pine floors, praying fervently for the Lord’s protection over her family, both near and far. I can almost hear her singing psalms and hymns while she labored on the homestead.
I wonder, did her faith ever waiver as mine does? Or was she so grounded that she never once doubted the Lord heard her prayers? Did she grow weary in her waiting?
The Lord did protect Elizabeth’s family and brought them safely home. The Ferebees’ service would continue beyond the battlefield. Two were members of the North Carolina Continental Congress to ratify the U.S. constitution; another served in the North Carolina state assembly, and another served in the North Carolina Congress from 1782-1797.
I am honored to be a descendant of true American Patriots who played a role in founding our country. However, I am even more honored to be a descendant of the women who fought for our nation’s independence on their knees.
Happy Independence Day!
I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.
~ Psalm 121