It’s a little-known story about the War of 1812. The heroes? Two daughters of a lighthouse keeper along the coast of Massachusetts. While away on a short trip, their father Simeon Bates left his two daughters in charge of the Scitutate Lighthouse that overlooks the coast at Scituate harbor.
Only months before, the most powerful navy in the world had raided Scituate harbor, burning boats and capturing supplies from the townspeople.
Shortly after the burning of Washington, the British navy approached Scituate harbor once again to loot the town a second time.
Armed with only a fife, a drum, and the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” two sisters protected their little town from being ransacked by British sailors.
As the sound of a fife and drum calling the roll drifted out to sea, the sailors assumed that an American regiment was guarding the area. Because they were not prepared for an actual fight, they decided to retreat.
Later hailed as heroes in Scituate for their quick thinking, twenty-one-year-old Rebecca and seventeen-year-old Abbie became known as “The American Army of Two.”
Today, you can walk in the footsteps of the Bates sisters as you visit the Old Scituate Lighthouse in Scituate, Massachusetts, as you also look upon a coast that witnessed battles during the War of 1812.
Some say this story of two brave sisters is only a legend. Some argue it is a true account. Either way, this stop along the Massachusetts coast certainly sparked our imaginations, especially considering this story of two unlikely heroes who likely served their community in a clever and unexpected way during the War of 1812.
A few favorite books on the War of 1812
Sisters of Scituate Light. Story of how two young ladies fooled British raiders to prevent an attack on their town during the War of 1812. Picture Book.
An American Army of Two. An easy-to-read (“on my own”) version of the same story.
The Star-Spangled Banner (Reading Rainbow Books). A picture book with all the stanzas of the Star-Spangled Banner, paired with powerful illustrations from the Battle of Fort McHenry along with American monuments and symbols. Includes additional details at the back of the book, and a stunning two-page spread of flags from the American Revolution to today (including those of the U.S. Government and Armed Forces). A real treat!
The Star Spangled Banner in Translation: What It Really Means. History behind the first verse behind our national anthem and what it really means. Also includes history about the War of 1812 and about the flag.
Once on this Island. When war erupts between England and America in 1812, it brings change even to Michigan’s remote Mackinac Island. When her father leaves Mackinac to join the army, she must tend the farm and deal with hardships of British occupation. (A Family Read Aloud Pick.)
Resources for studying the War of 1812
Printables for Francis Scott Key Unit Study
Patriotic Hymn Study