Deborah Sampson Gannett is famous for disguising herself as a man in order to fight in the American Revolutionary War. She fought under the assumed name of Robert Shurtliff, her deceased brother.
Sampson was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, in 1760. She was a descendant of Myles Standish, one of the original settlers who crossed over on the Mayflower and a well-known military leader. She was an indentured servant until the age of 18, at which time she became a teacher and weaver until she enlisted in the Continental Army under her assumed name in 1782.
Sampson served in the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. She was critically wounded in her first battle, taking two musket shots to the leg and sustaining a large cut to the forehead. Her fellow soldiers rescued her from the battlefield. She received treatment for the head wound but fled the hospital before the doctor could examine the musket wounds. She removed one ball herself with a penknife and sewed the wounds on her own so that her sex would not be discovered.
Her secret was discovered by a doctor when she came down with fever in 1783, but the doctor kept her secret, and she was honorably discharged from the military later that year.