This term I am working on a paper looking at women’s roles in the French and American Revolution. I have stumbled upon many great stories of heroines. For this week, I would like to tell the story of Deborah Sampson Gannett. Born on December 1, 1760 in Massachusetts, she was born into a life of poverty and indentured servitude. Her mother had sent her and her six siblings to various households. Once her servitude was over at the age of 18, she started teaching school.
On May 20, 1782 Sampson enlisted into the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army at Bellingham as a man named Robert Shurtleff. Other soldiers teased her about not having to shave. She performed her duties as well as the rest of them. Sampson was wounded in the leg during the battle near Tarrytown. She was able to perform self-care on her wound, and her true identity was kept a secret. However, she was placed in the hospital due to a fever and a doctor discovered the truth. She was able to discreetly make arrangements to become honorably discharged West Point on October 25, 1783 by General Henry Knox.
Deborah returned home met Benjamin Gannett, a farmer, and they married and had three children. She was awarded a pension nine years after her discharge in the amount of 34 pounds (approx. $53.04 in US dollars). This was awarded in one lump sum. Some of the later information has been questioned by historians, especially her service dates. Whatever dates it was, she was brave and fought for her country.