Baker & Taylor Relates how Deborah Sampson, disguised as a man, fought with the Continental Army during the Revolution
Blackwell North Amer Deborah Sampson's is one of the most extraordinary tales of the American Revolution. The only woman soldier to fight in the Revolutionary War, her story is ample proof that at all times a woman's courage and determination have been equal to the hazards of that most guarded of male bastions - warfare. A farm girl and schoolteacher from rural Massachusetts, Deborah Sampson craved a more adventurous life. In 1782, dressed as a man, she enlisted not once, but twice in the army. The first time she squandered her money in a tavern and failed to report to duty. A few weeks later she joined the 4th Massachusetts Regiment as Robert Shurtliff and soon saw action in the front lines. When shot in the thigh she removed the musket ball herself, fearful of having her identity discovered. Later, she fell foul to fever in Philadelphia when dispatched there to put down the soldiers' riots. A physician, checking her heartbeat, brushed up against what others had failed to notice, but remained discreet. While at the hospital a rich young girl from Baltimore fell in love with Deborah and showered her with gifts before Deborah explained why the romance could advance no further. Her brushes with danger were not over, however. Before receiving an honorable discharge, she was taken sick while serving as an aide-de-camp on a geological survey; then, on her return home, the ship she was aboard sunk during a gale over the Hudson River. Deborah swam to safety, but lost her belongings. Robert Shurtliff eventually received an honorable discharge, and Deborah Sampson became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a soldier's pension.