Deborah Sampson fought bravely in George Washington’s Continental Army, pretending to be a man. She was born in 1760 in Plympton, Massachusetts, but her family’s terrible poverty forced her into indentured servanthood as a teen. By the time she was 21, the American Revolution had broken out and she was determined to join the fight.
Although most women worked at home, in hospitals or in other support roles, she made herself a man’s suit of clothes and enlisted as “Robert Shurtleff” in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. She kept her true identity secret by what one historian has called “artful concealment of her sex.” Her fellow soldiers simply thought she was late bloomer — a whiskerless lad in his late teens!
U.S. military records show she was wounded twice in raids along the Hudson. In a skirmish near Tarrytown, she suffered a sword cut to the head. At East Chester she took a bullet in her thigh that left her a permanent scar.