Deborah Sampson Gannett (born Deborah Sampson) was an American woman who disguised herself as a man to enlist in and fight for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, impersonating her dead brother Robert Shurtleff Sampson. Her successful masquerade and subsequent honorable discharge from the Army remain among the most notable events of her life.Continue Reading
Before enlisting, Sampson worked for over 10 years as an indentured laborer on a farm. For a few years after her servitude ended, she worked as a public school teacher, but this career ended when she joined the Continental Army and fought in several battles. In one such battle near Tarrytown, New York, she was injured but she treated herself due to a fear of being discovered. She was eventually honorably discharged, returned home, married and restarted her career as a teacher.
The Continental Army ultimately found out that she was a woman and held back her pension, but she successfully petitioned the state legislature to release it with interest. During the last 25 years of her life, Sampson traveled around the country, giving lectures about her experiences as a female soldier in the war. Her efforts went a long way towards eliminating gender differences in the way war veterans were viewed in America.Learn more about US History