Revolutionary War Soldier
Born in 1760 - Died in 1827
Deborah Sampson's family was very poor. She was the oldest of six children. Her father deserted his family
and went to sea on a ship. When her mother could no longer feed her
family, she sent them to live with friends and relatives.
Eventually, at the age of 8 to 10 years old,
she became an indentured servant. She worked on a farm and worked
very hard. She learned to sew and spin. She could hunt, ride a horse,
and even do carpenter work. She loved to learn and would get the boys in the family
to teach her the lessons they were learning in school. She learned
so well that she later became a teacher.
During the Revolutionary War she wanted to help, but they did not
allow girls to join the army. She decided she could join the army
if she pretended to be a man. She practiced walking and talking like
a man until she could even fool her mother. She was ready. She became
an enlisted"man" using the name Robert Shurtleff.
She was tall for a woman; 5 foot and 7 inches, so her fellow soldiers
thought she was a short man. They teased "Robert" because he didn't have to shave, but they just thought this "boy" was too young to grow a beard.
"Robert" was a good, brave soldier and volunteered for some dangerous
jobs. The other soldiers were proud of him. Deborah became the
aide, or personal helper of the general. She served him his meals
and took care of his clothes for him.
Things were going well until she was wounded in battle. She let the
doctor treat the wound on her head, but she removed the bullet from
her leg by herself with a penknife and a needle. Her leg never did
heal properly, but her secret was still safe. She was afraid if
they found out she was a girl, they would shoot her.
Later she developed a fever and was put in the hospital. The doctor
discovered that "Robert" was actually a woman. He took her to his
family's home to get well. She was given an honorable dischargefrom the army.
After she left the army, she married a farmer named Benjamin Gannett
and they had three children. She taught at a school and also would
give talks or lectures about her experiences in the war. At the end
of her lectures, she would leave the stage and then come back onstage
dressed in her uniform and go through the soldier's routine with the gun.
Paul Revere wrote a letter to Congress asking for her to be given
a pension. She began receiving four dollars a month.
She died at the age of sixty-six.
This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.
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From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster
(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)
1 : a written agreement :
2 : a contract by which one person is made to work for another
for a stated period
: of, relating to, or forming the part of a military or naval force in
the ranks below commissioned or warrant officers
1 : to offer voluntarily as in "I volunteered my services"
2 : to offer oneself as a volunteer as "I volunteered to do the job."
: a person who acts as an assistant
: a sum paid regularly to a person especially following retirement
or to surviving dependents
Amazing Women in War and Peace
Deborah Sampson, Patriot
Soldier of the American Revolution
Canton, Mass. Historical Society
The Life of Deborah Sampson,
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Life of Deborah Sampson
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by John Adams Vinton (selected pages)
Portrait of Deborah - A Drama in Three Acts
by Charles Emery (selected pages)
This book is currently unavailable at bookstores.
Women public speakers in the United States, 1800-1925 - Deborah Sampson
by Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (selected pages)
Voices of the American Revolution, Deborah Sampson
by Kendall F. Haven (selected pages)
The American Monthly Magazine Volume 15 by Daughters of the American Revolution (selected pages)
Graham's Magazine Volume 39 (selected pages)
Skill Sharpener's Reading, Grade 6 - Deborah Sampson
by Martha Cheney (selected pages)
by Rick Burke (selected pages)
Soldier's Secret, The Story of Deborah Sampson
by Sheila Solomon Klass (selected pages)
Glory, Passion, and Principle, the Story of Eight Remarkable Women - Deborah Sampson
by Melissa Lukeman Bohrer (selected pages)
Revolutionary women in the War for American Independence - Deborah Sampson
by Elizabeth Fries Ellet, Lincoln Diamant (selected pages)
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