In June 1781 Emily Geiger volunteered to be a courier for General Nathanael Greene, who needed an urgent message delivered to General Thomas Sumter. Geiger evaded capture the first day, but the British stopped her on the second day. While waiting for the British to bring a woman to search her, she read and memorized Greene’s message and then ate it.

Revolutionary War heroine. Geiger was the daughter of John Geiger, a German farmer. Little is known of her early life.

In June 1781 Emily Geiger volunteered to be a courier for General Nathanael Greene, who needed an urgent message delivered to General Thomas Sumter. With the British watching the roads between Greene and Sumter, Geiger argued that a woman could go, since a woman would probably raise less British suspicion than a man. Greene consented and sent her on the mission. Geiger evaded capture the first day, but the British stopped her on the second day. While waiting for the British to bring a woman to search her, she read and memorized Greene’s message and then ate it. Finding no incriminating message, the British released her. She found her way to Sumter and delivered the message she had memorized. As a result of her persistence, Sumter’s forces met with other patriot forces at British-held Orangeburg to carry out Greene’s plan of attack.

After the Revolutionary War, Geiger married a planter named John Threrwitz (or Threewitts). They lived near Granby, South Carolina. Geiger’s date of death is unknown. She was buried in Threrwitz Cemetery in Lexington County.

Bodie, Idella. South Carolina Women. Orangeburg, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1991. Harkness, David James. “Heroines of the American Revolution.” University of Tennessee Newsletter 60 (February 1961): 1–16.
Rhett, Claudine. “Emily Geiger: A Heroine of the Revolution.” American Monthly Magazine 8 (March 1896): 302–304.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Geiger, Emily
  • Author Brenda Thompson Schoolfield
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/geiger-emily/
  • Access Date August 19, 2019
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date May 17, 2016
  • Date of Last Update August 9, 2016