On September 10, 1782, Betty Zane entered American history and folklore with her daring dash to resupply Wheeling’s Fort Henry. Her courageous act supposedly took place during one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War—nearly a year after the British surrender at Yorktown but before the peace treaty had been finalized.
Some 200 warriors—mostly Wyandots and Delaware—accompanied by American Loyalists and British soldier—had attacked Fort Henry, which was defended by 47 patriotic civilians. The fort was commanded by Betty Zane’s brother, Colonel Silas Zane. Based on the traditional account, Betty volunteered to retrieve gunpowder from her family’s cabin—perhaps as far as 60 yards away. Surprised to see a woman emerge from the fort and sprint across the battlefield, the Indians, American Loyalists, and British held their fire, allowing Zane to resupply the fort.
Betty Zane’s heroism became widely known in 1903, when author Zane Grey, a distant relative, wrote a novel about her. Although, some have questioned whether Betty Zane actually made her bold dash since it wasn’t mentioned in contemporary accounts of the battle.