Deborah Sampson, Patriot

They said a woman could not fight for her country. They didn't know Deborah Sampson.

Descended from famous early colonists John Alden and Miles Standish, Deborah's family fell on hard times. Fatherless, at age 10 she was bound out to hard labor outdoors, which gave her the strength of a man. After her indenture was over and the revolution came, she disguised herself in men's clothing and went off to Uxbridge, Massachusetts to serve her country. There in April 1782 she enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment under the alias of Robert Shurtleff. They marched to West Point where she qualified for the light infantry division. This qualification acknowledges her skill as a rifleman.

Her service included months of hard fighting in New York State at White Plains & Tarrytown, and at Yorktown, Virginia. Often at the front of the action, she received both bullet and sword wounds but made little of her injuries out of fear that her sex would be found out. Her secret became known when she was overcome by fever and she fell unconscious. Dr. Barnabas Binney kept her secret until her honorable discharge could be discreetly arranged.

She later married Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, Massachusetts and became the mother of three children. Her military service earned her pensions from the state of Massachusetts and from the federal government. Her husband survived her and he became the first American to receive a pension as a soldier's widower.

We are proud to know that she spent time here in New Windsor at The Last Encampment of the Continental Army.

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