|Image Attributed to Deborah Sampson|
Certainly getting into the army was no easy task because women were not permitted to do this. Undaunted by the dictates of society Sampson's mind was made up. She decided to disguise herself as a man in order to join the army. She was astute enough to know that preparation would be the order of the day, so she bound her breasts, practiced walking and talking like a man and at times even managed to fool her mother...
ENLISTING AS A MAN Imagine playing down a woman's female attributes and discarding the adornments of femininity? It took bold reserve to impersonate a man. However, in 1781 when Sampson was twenty-one years old, she was feeling restless and thought of other pursuits; travel for one, adventure another or was it a patriotic surge that well up in her bound bosom. Women, at that time, had very limited options of diversion or employment, but Sampson seems to have been cut out for a more interesting destiny. She did not hesitate by putting her plan in action, and realized she would have to cross-dress. Wearing a man's suit Sampson visited a fortune teller to confirm her conviction. After that encounter her resolve was strengthened and during a long winter Sampson decided to join the military as a male soldier.
MASTER NOAH TAFT Deborah was tall for a woman and she downplayed her femininity with proper military attire including the coat, waistcoat and breeches she had sewn that winter. Thus attired, she presented herself on May 20, 1782, under the name of her deceased brother. Robert Shurtleff Sampson, as Master Noah Taft of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. She was enlisted in Captain Webb's Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. Legend has it that before she joined up her mother was trying to get Sampson married to a wealthy suitor. I wonder, did she choose the army instead to escape this forced marriage? It seems to me this strong headed determined woman was bent on fulfilling her own destiny, despite any unforeseen consequences.
|Typical Uniform like worn by Deborah|
A FARMER'S WIFE It's seem unlikely that after such a military adventure that Deborah Sampson could return to a normal life. Well, the draw of domesticity prevailed and she married Benjamin Gannett in 1785. They subsequently had three children, and the family had a small farm in Sharon, Massachusetts.
Life as a wartime warrior may have ended with her discharge, but she took full advantage of her life as a soldier, which was document in By Herman Mann in the biography "The Female Review ." After its publication, spunky Sampson embarked on a speaking tour throughout New York and New England,. It is recorded that during her performance she dressed in her male uniform and regaled the gawking crowd by performing maneuvers from the manual of arms.
|Statue of Sampson at Sharon Public Library|
Deborah Sampson remains celebrated in the annals of women warriors of the American Revolution. Her legacy of bravery, fortitude and perseverance are lessons of unrivaled heroism.