MAGAZINE OF HISTORY
NOTES AND QUERIES
Extra Number No.
THE FEMALE REVIEW (LIFE OF DEBORAH SAMPSON, THE
FEMALE SOLDIER) H. Mann (1797)
Revised by REV. J. A. VINTON, 1866
TARRYTOWN NEW YORK
LIFE OF DEBORAH SAMPSON.
THE FEMALE REVIEW
THE FEMALE SOLDIER
of tjje &ebototion
AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
JOHN ADAMS VINTON
J. K. WIGGIN & WM. PARSONS LUNT
M DCC LXVI
TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK
Being Extra Number 47 of THE MAGAZINE OF HISTORY WITH NOTEB AND QUERIES.
> ] Y
fts. ,*> h
EDITOR S PREFACE
fTT^HERE are a few cases known to history, of women serving
as soldiers, without discovery of their sex, but all, save our
heroine, were in foreign armies: she remains the only one
known to our own army, until 1861-65, when according to Mrs.
Livermore s "My Story of the War," there were many in the
Union Army, by one unnamed authority almost four hundred
though of course none were enlisted if their sex was known.
It is admitted that there were two women in Washington s
army who did soldier s work Molly Pitcher of Monmouth, and
Margaret Corbin of Fort Washington But theirs was but a
"service of occasion," and they were not regularly enlisted, as was
Our readers will agree that it is most unfortunate that her own
manuscript journal of her experiences was lost, and that Mr.
Mann s verbose, grandiloquent and prosy production has to do
duty in its place. We have felt obliged to reprint it in full but
it suffers greatly by comparison with almost any one of our other
"EXTRAS" particularly such a plain, straightforward, manly
story as is Thomas Brown s "Plain Narrative" (No. 4).
The original of 1797 is almost unprocurable and even the re
print of 1866, which we have followed, is very scarce.
We have been fortunate in discovering among the members
of the D. A. R. one who is a direct descendant of Deborah Sampson,
and from whom we have received the "family tree" which appears
in the Appendix. This lady is Miss Amy Greer Thompson of New
York, a great-great-granddaughter of our heroine, and the only
member of the D. A. R. who belongs to the Society as representing
a FEMALE SOLDIER. Others have been admitted as descendants
of patriotic women, who rendered substantial services to the cause
of Independence, but no one of them can point to a regularly-en
listed woman soldier as her ancestor.
We regret that the steel plate of Deborah Sampson s portrait
cannot now be found, though known to be in Dedham a few years
ago; and we are therefore obliged to be content with a half-tone
reproduction from the original print.
N. Y. 1916
(From a Recent Boston Catalogue)
(Sampson, Deborah.) The Female Review: or, memoirs of an American young lady
whose life and character are peculiarly distinguished being a Continental soldier (for
nearly three years) in the late American War, during which she performed the duties of
every department into which she was called with punctual exactness, fidelity and honor.
By a citizen of Massachusetts. Portrait engraved by Graham, 4x6 J^. Dedham : Printed
by Nathaniel and Benjamin Heaton, for the author, 1797. $22. 50
***The subject of this memoir was born at Plympton, Mass., in 1760. Disguised as a man, she en
listed in the Revolutionary Army (Fourth Mass. Regiment), under the name of Robert Shurtleflf, and
was wounded in a skirmish at Tarrytown, N. Y. She was also present at Yorktown. After the war
she married Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, Mass.
THE American Revolution was a great event. Thirteen feeble
colonies, scattered along more than a thousand miles of sea-
coast, and vulnerable at every point, dared to resist the co
lossal power of one of the oldest and strongest monarchies of the
world. Without adequate preparation, without a general govern
ment, without a revenue, without a navy, and almost without an
army, or the means of keeping an army together, they entered the
fearful struggle, and, by the help of God, prevailed. All well-
authenticated facts, even the most minute, connected with this
great struggle, possess a deep and an enduring interest. Every
individual history included in that great drama serves to help out
and enlarge our idea of what was then transacted.
Viewed in this light, the story of Deborah Sampson will be
found worthy of attentive consideration. It is sufficiently roman
tic in itself; but, considered as a tale of Revolutionary times, it is
entitled to special regard. It affords, to some extend, a picture
of those times, and opens before us scenes of trial and hardship,
of patriotism and fortitude, that enable us better to conceive of
that great conflict.
The general credit of the facts recorded in this volume cannot
be shaken. It is sustained by tradition yet freshly existing in
Middleborough and the vicinity; by the Records of the First Bap
tist Church in that town; by the Resolve of the Legislature of Mass
achusetts, in 1792; by the Records of the Pension Office of the
United States; by the act of Congress, granting her pension to the
heirs of Deborah Gannett; by the obituary notice published in the
papers after her death; and, lastly, by the list of subscribers to
"The Female Review." Many of these subscribers were highly
respectable gentlemen, resident in Middleborough, Sharon, Stough-
ton, Dedham, Walpole, Wrentham, Providence, and other towns
in the vicinity. Clergymen, physicians, lawyers, merchants, and
other intelligent men, would not have subscribed for such a work,
but for its substantial verity.
The story of our heroine has found a place, more or less en
larged, in "Allen s Biographical Dictionary," third edition; in Mrs.
Sarah Josepha Bale s "Biography of Distinguished Women;" in
Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet s "Women of the American Revolution;"
and in some other publications.* In several of these volumes,
minor inaccuracies may be found; but the main facts have never
been called in question.
The editor remembers to have heard of this remarkable case
full fifty years ago, in his childhood, when living in Braintree, mid
way between Boston and Middleborough. He has since made it a
subject of careful and prolonged investigation.
The story, concisely told, is as follows: Deborah Sampson
left her home in Middleborough, Mass., in May, 1782, being then
in her twenty-second year. She assumed the masculine garb;
enlisted as a Continental soldier; was mustered into the service
at Worcester; joined the army at West Point; performed the duties
of a soldier with more than ordinary alertness, gallantry, and forti
tude ; participated in several engagements, in one of which she was
wounded; though mingling constantly with men, preserved her
purity unsullied; suffered severe illness in a hospital in Philadel
phia, where her sex was discovered; received an honorable dis
charge from the army at the close of the war, and returned to her
relatives in Massachusetts.
These facts, and others connected with them, are set forth,
with no inconsiderable amount of what was meant for embellish
ment, in "The Female Review," a small volume of 258 pages, 12mo.,
compiled by Herman Mann, and printed for him at Dedham, in
*Some years ago, as the editor has been informed, a volume made its appearance, profess
ing to give memoirs of eminent colored women, and Deborah Sampson was claimed as one of
the number !
1797. This book has long been out of print, and is now rarely to
be met with. Considered merely as a composition, this volume
does not rank high. The style is pompous and affected, the man
ner prolix and verbose. Throughout the volume, there is an evi
dent straining after effect. Instead of presenting a simple narra
tive, "a round, unvarnished tale," the writer made a kind of novel,
founded, indeed, on fact, but with additions of his own. He aimed
at weaving a web of gaudy colors, which should strike strongly on
the fancy of his readers. He introduces a great deal of extraneous
matter, which serves only to fill out his pages, without at all help
ing forward the story. He proceeds with too little caution in his
statements of fact, following, sometimes, the practice of Voltaire,
who, when asked at the table of Frederick I., how he could allow
himself in statements so variant from the truth, replied, "I write
history to be read, not to be believed." This volume, however,
has furnished, in great part, the material which has been used by
most of the writers who have hitherto attempted to give an account
of Deborah Sampson; and there can be no doubt that the well-
authenticated facts of the case will repay a thoughtful considera
To disengage what is true from w^hat is of doubtful authority;
to separate the real from the fictitious; to disentangle the facts
from the fancies with which they have been mingled, is the de
sign of the present edition. But to draw the line accurately be
tween the two has been found no easy matter.
It appears that the heroine, ten or twelve years after her re
turn from the army, became acquainted with Mr. Mann, the origin
al author; and some materials for the narrative were gathered,
principally from her own lips, but in part also from some scattered
memoranda of hers, from conversation with her relatives, from
officers who knew her in the army, and from other sources. A
journal, which she had constantly kept while in the service, was un
fortunately lost with her trunk, in the passage by water, which
she attempted to make, from Elizabeth town, N. J., to New York,
in a heavy gale, as she states, while on her return from a Western
tour to the headquarters of the American army, in October, 1783.
It was necessary, therefore, to rely chiefly on her memory; and, in
regard to all important facts, this could hardly fail.
It seems, however, that both the writer and the heroine of
"The Female Review," after the issue of that volume, became dis
satisfied therewith : it seemed, even to them, a crude and imperfect
sketch. Many marks of carelessness, and of a want of due prep
aration, were too clearly seen; some things were untruly stated,
and a general looseness of style and of sentiment was apparent.
The resolution was formed, therefore, to prepare a worthier and
more comely volume. The writer had now become better ac
quainted with his subject, and possessed of an ampler stock of
materials. The book was therefore rewritten, with much enlarge
ment in respect to facts, obtained from the heroine herself. The
memoir, thus revised, is said to have been carefully examined and
fully approved by Mrs. Gannett, who exacted the promise, how
ever, that it should not be printed till after her decease. She died
in 1827, and the author was thus relieved of the obligation. But
a severe and protracted illness, which resulted in the author s
own death in 1833, prevented his fully completing the work.
The manuscript, after the author s death, fell into the hands
of his son, to whom it appeared capable of still further improve
ment. The younger Mann, therefore, took pains to remodel it
thoroughly, omitting much of the extraneous matter, and making
the heroine throughout to speak in the first person; thus giving
more animation and directness to the narrative. The dramatic
style is employed wherever there is room for it. We cannot avoid
the impression that the MS. is dramatic throughout, quite as
much so as the historical plays of Shakespeare, while there can be
no comparison in respect to artistic merit. The manuscript me
moir, or novel whichever the reader pleases was completed in
1850. It is a decided advance on "The Female Review" in style
and manner, though still abounding in superfluous phrases, and
containing much irrelevant matter. It exists only in a manuscript
of 336 pages, and will probably never appear in print. All that is
valuable in it has been incorporated in the present volume. The
constant use of this document by the editor is an advantage which
has not been enjoyed hitherto by any one who has given to the
public an account of Deborah Sampson. He has thus been en
abled to present a more full and, he trusts, a better history of this
As the language of the manuscript memoir is susceptible of
much improvement, I have not confined myself to the exact words.
ThoughDeborah is ostensiblythe speaker, the words are Mr. Mann s.
He speaks in her behalf, as her representative and interpreter.
From the language employed by him, I have felt at liberty to de
part whenever I thought the form of expression could be improved;
dropping expletives, throwing off superfluous phrases, and chang
ing one word for a better; new modelling whole sentences and para
graphs for the sake of clearer and fuller expression; but never chang
ing the idea. Even if I had Deborah s own words before me, the
practice of good writers, in similar cases, would have warranted a
careful and thorough revision.
The original work, however, "The Female Review," is,
in the following pages, literally and fully reprinted, that subscribers
may possess the text as first printed in 1797. Copious notes are
added wherever it seemed necessary, for the purpose of correcting
erroneous statements, or presenting additional information.
From the nature of the case, there could be no other evidence
in regard to most of the facts herein reported, but the statements
of the heroine herself. Whether these statements can always be
trusted, or whether, indeed, she ever made some of them, the reader
must judge. The main thread of the story will undoubtedly hold
true, confirmed as it is by so many concurring testimonies. But
for some of the details of "The Female Review" and of the MS.
memoir, an easy faith is required.
Some years ago, my friend, Rev. Stillman Pratt of Middle-
borough, became interested in the story of Deborah Sampson, and
collected in that vicinity some facts not before published, which,
with other matter copied, without material alteration, from "The
Female Review," he gave to the world in his paper,"The Middle-
borough Gazette." The additional information thus obtained will
be found in the ensuing pages. In several instances, it is at vari
ance with statements purporting to have been received from the
The time when Deborah Sampson enlisted into the army has
been untruly stated. Mrs. Ellet, in her "Women of the Revo
lution," says she enlisted in October, 1778, when eighteen years of
age. This statement is copied by Dr. Allen, in his "Biographical
Dictionary," third edition. It is manifestly erroneous, for reasons
which will soon appear. "The Female Review," and Rev. Mr.
Pratt, who here copies from it, state that she enlisted in April,
1781. The MS. memoir, of which mention has already been made,
repeats the same statement. It is sustained by the following
document, which has just been obtained from the Pension Office
in Washington. It is a declaration made by Mrs. Gannett, under
oath, at the time when she relinquished her invalid pension and
received the benefit of the Act of Congress, passed March 18, 1818.
Deborah Gannett of Sharon, in the county of Norfolk, and district of Massachusetts,
a resident and native of the United States, and applicant for a pension from the United
States, under an act of Congress entitled, An Act to provide for certain persons engaged
in the land and naval service of the United States in the Revolutionary War, maketh oath
that she served as a private soldier, under the name of Robert Shurtleff , in the war of the
Revolution, upwards of two years, hi manner following, viz.: Enlisted hi April, 1781, in
the company commanded by Captain George Webb, in the Massachusetts regiment com
manded by Colonel Shepherd, and afterwards by Colonel Henry Jackson, and served in
said corps in Massachusetts and New York until November, 1783, when she was honorably
discharged in writing, which discharge is lost. During the time of her service, she was at
the capture of Lord Cornwallis, was wounded at Tarrytown, and now receives a pension
from the United States, which pension she hereby relinquishes. She is in such reduced
circumstances as to require the aid of her country for her support.
Massachusetts District, September 14, 1818."
The foregoing was copied, February 21, 1866, from the original,
in the Pension Office in Washington.
At a later period, Mrs. Gannett applied to Congress for further
aid, in a petition of which the following is a copy :
"To the Hon. Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled.
The petition of Deborah Gannett of Sharon, in the county of Norfolk, and Common
wealth of Massachusetts, Humbly shews, That she served as a soldier in the Army of the
United States, during the Revolutionary War; that she was wounded while in the service;
and that while others were on the list of pensioners, and received their pensions soon after
the termination of the war, she was not on the list of pensioners until the first of January,
1803, owing to the great disadvantage she was under to procure sufficient credentials
which were necessary to lay before Congress. She therefore prays that Congress would
allow her at the rate of four dollars per month from the time that others in similar situa
tions received their pensions, up to the first day of January, 1803. And as in duty bound
will ever pray.
Sharon, January 25, 1820." DEBORAH GANNETT.
This petition was forwarded to Washington, to the care of
Hon. Marcus Morton, then a representative in Congress from
Massachusetts. As appears by an indorsement thereon, it was
referred, March 28, 1820, to the Committee on Pensions and Revo
lutionary Claims. March 31, 1820, it was considered, but not
allowed. The original petition is now before me.
The following document was furnished on application from
"DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Pension Office, February 13, 1866.
Sir, In the matter of Deborah Gannett, about which you make certain inquiries,
I have to state, that, on the llth of March, 1805, she was allowed a pension of four dollars
per month, as an invalid soldier of the war of the Revolution. Her pension commenced
January 1, 1803. The name of the pensioner was inscribed upon the Massachusetts In-
valid Pension Roll. In 1816, her pension was increased to six dollars and forty cents per
month. On the 18th of March, 1818, Congress passed an Act, granting pensions of eight
dollars per month to those soldiers who served, continuously, nine months and longer in
the Continental line, and who were in need of the assistance of the country for support
by reason of reduced circumstances. No person who was in the receipt of a pension could
receive the benefit of this Act, unless he relinquished the pension he was receiving under
former acts. In 1819, Deborah Gannett relinquished her Invalid Pension, and was pen
sioner under said Act of the 18th of March, 1818, at the rate of eight dollars per month,
and drew said pension of eight dollars per month until March 4, 1827. She died in 1827.
The papers upon which she was allowed her Invalid Pension were burned in 1814, when
the War Office was burned by the British troops. The nature of her disability is not
known, further than that she was severely wounded at Tarrytown. The soldier enlisted
under the name of Robert Shertliff, in April, 1781, under Captain George Webb, in a regi
ment of the Massachusetts Continental line, commanded by Colonel Shepherd, and after
wards by Colonel Henry Jackson, and served until November, 1783, when she was honor
ably discharged. She was at the capture of Cornwallis.
Benjamin Gannett, the husband of the soldier, survived her as a widower, until 1837,
when he died. On the 7th of July, 1838, Congress passed an Act, a Special Act (see Statutes
at Large, vol 6, page 735), directing the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to the heirs of
the soldier the sum of four hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six cents, being at the
rate of a pension of eighty dollars per annum from the 4th of March, 1831, to the 4th of
As this amount of four hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six cents was paid at
the Treasury, I am unable to state to whom, or when, it was paid. The foregoing em
braces the information afforded by the files of this office, and, it is believed, every allow
ance made by law to Deborah Gannett, or her heirs.
I am yours, very respectfully,
JOSEPH H. BARRETT, Commissioner"
Subjoined is a letter from the Secretary of War, in 1805, at
the time of placing her name on the Invalid Pension Roll. The
original, and also the original of the document which will immediate
ly follow, are now in the possession of Mr. Jeremiah Colburn, of
this city, who has kindly permitted the use of them by the editor:
"War Department, 11 March, 1805.
Sir, You are hereby apprised that Deborah Gannett, who served as a soldier in the
Army of the United States, during the late Revolutionary War, and who was severely
wounded therein, has this day been placed on the Pension List of the United States, at
the rate of four dollars per month, to commence on the first day of January, 1803. You
will be pleased to enter her name on your books, and pay her, or her legally authorized
attorney, on application, accordingly.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your ob t servant,
Benjamin Austin, Jun., Esq., Boston.
Here is the first receipt given by Mrs. Gannett for her pen
"Commissioner s Office, April 10, 1805.
"Received of Benjamin Austin, jun., Agent for paying Invalid Pensioners belonging
to the State of Massachusetts, One hundred and four dollars, 53^ cents, being for 26
months and 4 days Pension due to Deborah Gannett, from the first day of January, 1803,
to the fourth day of March, 1805; for which I have signed duplicate Receipts.
The following is the Special Act of Congress referred to in
the foregoing communication from the Pension Office :
"An Act for the relief of the heirs of Deborah Gannett, a soldier of the Revolution, de
Be it enacted, &c., That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, directed
to pay, out of any money not otherwise appropriated, to the heirs of Deborah Gannett,
a revolutionary soldier, and late the wife of Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, in the State
of Massachusetts, now deceased, the sum of four hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-
six cents, being an equivalent for a full pension of eighty dollars per annum, from the
fourth day of March, 1831, to the decease of Benjamin Gannett, in January, 1837, as
granted in certain cases to the widows of revolutionary soldiers by the Act passed the
fourth day of July, 1836, entitled an Act granting half pay to widows or orphans where
their husbands or fathers have died of wounds received in the military service of the
United States, and for other purposes.
Approved July 7, 1838."
The subjoined Report of the Committee on Revolutionary
Pensions, taken from Reports of Committees, Twenty-fifth Con
gress, 2d Session. Vol. 1., No. 172, January 31, 1837, adds some
facts not elsewhere stated.
Mr. Ward well, from the Committee on Revolutionary Pen
sions, made the following Report:
"The Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, to which was referred the petition of
Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, State of Massachusetts, report :
That the petitioner represents that he is the surviving husband of Deborah Gannett,
to whom he was lawfully married on the 7th day of April, 1784 ; that she died on the 29th
of April, 1827. He also states, that, in the early part of her life, the said Deborah enlisted
as a soldier in the army of the Revolution, under the assumed name of Robert Shurtleff,
where she faithfully served her country three years, and was honorably discharged in
November, 1783; that, on account of a wound received in the service, she received a pen-
sion as an invalid, until the passage of the Act of 18th March, 1818; and that she received
a full pension under the Act until her decease. The petitioner further states, that the
effects of the wound which she received followed her through life, and probably hastened
her death. The petitioner represents himself to be eighty-three years of age, infirm hi
health, and in indigent circumstances. He states also that he has two daughters de
pendent on charity for support. The petitioner prays that he may receive the amount of
the pension of his wife, from the time of her decease, and that it may be continued to him
till his death.
It appears, from a letter received from the Commissioner of Pensions, that Deborah
Gannett, deceased, was placed on the Massachusetts roll of invalid pensioners, at $48 per
annum, which was afterwards increased to $76. 80 per annum. This she relinquished, in
1818, for the benefit of the Act of March 18, 1918. She was placed, under that law, at
the rate of eight dollars per month, from the 14th September, 1818, which she received up
to the 4th March, 1827. It further appears, from said letter, that the papers containing
evidence upon which the original pension was granted were burned in 1814, when the
British troops invaded Washington, and destroyed the War Office, with its contents.
On the 14th September, 1818, the said Deborah made her declaration, under oath,
that she served as a private soldier, under the name of Robert Shurtleff, in the war of the
Revolution, upwards of two years, in manner following: Enlisted, hi April, 1781, in a com
pany commanded by Captain George Webb, in the Massachusetts regiment commanded
by Colonel Shepherd*, and afterwards by Colonel Henry Jackson; that she served in
Massachusetts and New York until November, 1783, when she was honorably discharged
in writing, which discharge she had lost. She was at the capture of Cornwallis, was
wounded at Tarry town, and, up to the date of her declaration, she received a pension
P. Parsons testifies, under oath, that she lived in the family of Benjamin Gannett more
than forty-six years after he married Deborah Sampson; that she well knew that said
Deborah was unable to perform any labor a great part of the tune, in consequence of a
wound she received, while in the American army, from a musket-ball lodged in her body,
which was never extracted. She also states that she saw Benjamin Gannett married to
Deborah Sampson at his father s house in Sharon.
Benjamin Rhoads and Jeremiah Gould, the selectmen of the town of Sharon, in the
State of Massachusetts, certify that they are acquainted with Benjamin Gannett, now
living in said Sharon; that he is a man of upwards of eighty years of age; that he is des
titute of property; that he has been an industrious man; that he was the husband of the
late Deborah Gannett, deceased, who for a time received a pension from the United
States for her military services during the Revolutionary War.
William Ellis, formerly a Senator in Congress, in a letter to the Hon. William Jackson,
now a Representative in Congress, states that said Gannett has been a very upright, hard-
laboring man; has brought up a large family, and is a poor man. He further states, that
he has long since been credibly informed that said Gannett had been subjected to heavy
expenses for medical aid for his wife, the said Deborah, for twenty years or more, and be
fore she received a pension under the Act of 1818, on account of wounds she received in
the United States service.
There are other certificates among the papers in this case, showing the physician s
bill alone, for attendance on the said Deborah, to be more than six hundred dollars.
The Committee are aware that there is no Act of Congress which provides for any
case like the present. The said Gannett was married after the termination of the war of
the Revolution, and therefore does not come within the spirit of the third section of the
Act of 4th July, 1836, granting pensions to widows in certain cases; and, were there noth
ing peculiar in this application which distinguishes it from all other applications for pen
sions, the Committee would at once reject the claim. But they believe they are warranted
in saying that the whole history of the American Revolution records no case like this, and
furnishes no other similar example of female heroism, fidelity, and courage. The peti
tioner does not allege that he served in the war of the Revolution, and it does not appear
by any evidence in the case that such was the fact. It is not, however, to be presumed
that a female who took up arms in defence of her country, who served as a common soldier
for nearly three years, and fought and bled for human liberty, would, immediately after
the termination of the war, connect herself for life with a Tory or a traitor. He, indeed,
was honored much by being the husband of such a wife; and as he has proved himself
worthy of her, as he has sustained her through a long life of sickness and suffering, and
as that sickness and suffering were occasioned by the wounds she received, and the hard
ships she endured in defence of the country; and as there cannot be a parallel case in all
tune to come, the Committee do not hesitate to grant relief.
They report a bill granting to the petitioner a pension of $80 per year from the 4th
day of March, 1831, for and during his natural life."
The foregoing documents seem to prove conclusively that
Deborah Sampson enlisted in the army in the month of April,
1781. The following documents prove as conclusively that she
did not enlist till May, 1782. The reader will take notice that
the preceding papers are all of a much later date than those that
follow; and he will naturally be induced to ask why the state
ment that the enlistment was in April, 1781, was not inserted in
so important a document as that which we shall now copy, and
which was made when the facts of the case were so recent.
In January, 1792, Deborah Gannett, formerly Deborah Samp
son, signed a petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts, of which
the following is an exact copy :
"To His Excellency the Governor, the Honourable Senate, and the Honourable House of
Representatives, in General Court assembled, this Eleventh day of January 1792.
The Memorial of Deborah Gannet
Humbly Sheweth, that your Memorialist from Zeal for the good of her Country was in-
duc d, and by the name of Robert Shirtliff did, on May 20, 1782, Inlist as a Soldier in the
Continental Service, for Three Years, into the 4 th Regiment, Col Shepard s, (afterwards
Col? Jackson s) in Cap* George Webb s Compy. & was muster d at Worcester, by Cap*
Eliphalet Thorp of Dedham, the 23 d of the same Month, & went to the Camp, under the
Command of Sergeant Gambel, & was constant & faithful in doing Duty, with other Sol
diers, & was engag d with the Enemy at Tarry Town New York, & was wounded there by
the Enemy, & continued in Service untill discharg d, by General Knox at West Point,
October 25, 1783. ----- Your Memorialist has made some Application to receive
pay for her services in the Army, but being a Female, & not knowing the proper steps to
be taken to get pay for her services, has hitherto not receiv d one farthing for her services :
whether it has been occasion d by the fault of Officers in making up the Rolls, or whether
Effrican Hamlin paymaster to the 4 th regiment, has carried off the papers, &c. your Mem
orialist cannot say: but your Memorialist prays this Honourable Court to consider the
Justness of her Claim, & Grant her pay as a good soldier; and your Memorialist as in Duty
bound shall ever pray."
The foregoing petition was presented to the House of Repre
sentatives, and by them referred to a committee, consisting of Dr.
William Eustis of Boston (afterwards Governor), Benjamin Hitch-
born of Dorchester, and James Sproat of Middleborough. This
Committee reported favorably on the petition, and consequently
the following Resolve was passed :
"Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
House of Representatives, January 19 th , 1792.
On the petition of Deborah Gannet, praying compensation for services performed in
the late Army of the United States.
Whereas it appears to this Court that the said Deborah Gannet inlisted, under the
name of Robert Shirtliff, in Captf Webb s company, in the 4 th Massachusetts Regiment
on May 20, 1782, and did actually perform the duty of a soldier in the late Army of the
United States to the 23 d day of October 1783, for which she has received no compensation:
And whsreas it further appears that the said Deborah exhibited an extraordinary in
stance of female heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful, gallant soldier, and at the
same time preserving the virtue & chastity of her sex unsuspected and unblemished, & was
discharged from the service with a fair & honorable character. Therefore
Resolved, That the Treasurer of this Commonwealth be and he hereby is directed
to issue his note to the said Deborah for the sum of thirty-four pounds, bearing interest
from October 23, 1783.
Sent up for Concurrence. D. COBB, Speaker.
In Senate, Jan? 20, 1792. Read and concurred.
SAM^ PHILLIPS, President.
Connected with the foregoing papers is the following:
Boston, Aug^ 1, 1786.
To whom it may concern.
These may certify that Robert Shurtliff was a soldier in my Regiment in the Con
tinental army for the town of Uxbridge in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts & was
inlisted for the term of three years: that he had the confidence of his officers and did
his duty as a faithful and good soldier, and was honorably discharged the army of the
Late Col. in the American Army."
A true copy of the original delivered said Shurtliff.
JOHN AVERT JUN* Sec y"
The subjoined certificate accompanies the preceding papers:
"Dedham, Deem?" 10, 1791.
This Certifies that Mrs. Deborah Gannet inlisted as a soldier on May y e 20 th 1782
for three years and was Muster d y e 23 d of y e Same Month at Worcester and sent on to
Camp soon after and as I have been inform d did the Duty of a Good Soldier.
"P? ELIPHT THORP, Cap 1 . 1 th M. Reg 1 - M. Master
N. B. Robert Shirtleff was y e Name by which M" Gannet inlisted and Muster?"
The four documents immediately preceding are on file in the
office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
and were copied exactly by the editor from the originals. They
are all in one fold, and are endorsed
"Resolve on the petition of Deborah Gannet, granting her 34 for services in the late
Continental Army. Jan? 20, 1792."
The sum granted, 34, was equivalent to one hundred dollars,
and a small fraction over.
In reference to these documents, a strict regard to truth com
pels us to offer the following observations:
1. Deborah Gannett, formerly Sampson, the heroine of our
story, in presenting to the Legislature a petition for compensa
tion as a soldier, must have made the utmost of her case. If she
had been a soldier in 1778, or in 1781, and especially if she had been
a sharer in the glorious campaign which ended in the surrender of
Cornwallis, she would doubtless have said so; and, if such were the
fact, she could easily have proved it. But the petition of 1792 says
nothing of this sort.
2. As we know from her own statement in this petition that
she enlisted in May, 1782, it is scarcely possible that she could
have enlisted in 1781, because, in that case, she must have enlisted
for one year only. But the practice of short enlistments, which
had nearly proved fatal to the American cause in the autumn and
winter of 1776, had, in 1781, long been abandoned. Moreover,
it appears, from the "Continental Army Books,"* in the office of
the Secretary of the Commonwealth, that all the men in Colonel
Shepard s regiment, as well as in the other regiments of the Mass
achusetts line, were enlisted "for three years, or during the war."
3. She could not have enlisted in 1778, as Mrs. Ellet affirms,
because, in that case, the "Continental Army Books," just men
tioned, would contain the name of Robert Shirtliff. But they do
not contain it. The name of Robert Shirtliff appears in the "List
of Final Settlement," a volume in the office of the said Secretary,
containing the names of the soldiers who were discharged in 1783.
Opposite to his name is number 40066, referring to documents sent
to the War Office at Washington, and destroyed when the W T ar
Office was burned in 1814.
4. Though the petition of Mrs. Gannett affirms that she en
listed for three years, and though the same statement is made in
the certificates of Colonel Jackson and Captain Thorp, yet it does
not follow that she served three years. She says that she was dis
charged in October, 1783. Her actual service, therefore, if we
may believe her statement in the petition of 1792, was limited to
one year and five months.
5. Some of the statements, both of "The Female Review"
They contain the names of all who served in the Massachusetts regiments from 1777 to
1780, and the amounts due them respectively.
and of the MS. memoir, seem incredible. In both of these docu
ments, especially in the latter, we are conducted, with great full
ness of detail, through the campaign of 1781; the siege of York-
town; the hard work in the trenches; the taking of two formidable
British redoubts by storming parties; and the final surrender of
the hostile forces: and Deborah Sampson, we are assured, was a
sharer in these stirring scenes. Had she forgotten her part in
those memorable transactions when she presented her petition to
the Legislature of Massachusetts, only ten years afterwards?
Further to confirm what we have now said, we offer an extract
from the Records of the First Baptist Church in Middleborough ;
of which Church, as appears by those Records, Deborah was re
ceived a member in November, 1780:
"September 3, 1782. The Church took action as follows:
The Church consider d the case of Deborah Sampson, a member of this Church, who
last Spring was accused of dressing in men s clothes, and enlisting as a Soldier in the Army,
and altho she was not convicted, yet was strongly suspected of being guilty, and for some
time before behaved very loose and unchristian like, and at last left our parts in a suden
maner, and it is not known among us where she is gone, and after considerable discourse,
it appeard that as several bretheren had labour d with her before she went away, without
obtaining satisfaction, concluded it is the Church s duty to withdraw fellowship until
she returns and makes Christian satisfaction."
A vote to "withdraw fellowship" is equivalent to a vote of
excommunication. It does not appear that Deborah was ever
restored to the communion of that church, or of any other.
From this extract it seems evident that she did not "dress in
men s clothes, and enlist as a soldier in the army," till the spring
of 1782. If so, she did not enlist till the war was substnatially
over. The surrender of Cornwallis, in October, 1781, virtually
closed the contest. No military operations, of any importance,
were, after that event, undertaken on either side.
It must be confessed, however, that the case is not wholly
free from difficulty. The heroine of the story, who best knew the
facts of the case, has given her testimony on both sides of the ques-
tion. In January, 1792, she makes a positive statement that she
enlisted in May, 1782, and is altogether silent about her being
present at the siege of Yorktown. In September, 1818, twenty-
six years later, she affirms, under oath, that she enlisted in April,
1781, and was at the capture of Cornwallis (see p. xvi.). The state
ments subsequently made in the document obtained from the Pen
sion Office (p. xix.), and in the Report of the Committee on Revo
lutionary Pensions (p. xxi), that her enlistment was in April, 1781,
are evidently derived only from her declaration, in 1818, just men
tioned, which was clearly an after-thought. The reader is left
to judge as to the probabilities of the case.
After making all needful allowance for these conflicting state
ments, and for the exaggerations of the book before us, enough re
mains to invest the story of Deborah Sampson with a strange and a
peculiar interest. She was certainly a woman of very marked and
decided character. She is entitled, as no other female is, to be
denominated "the heroine of the American Revolution." Other
women, during that eventful struggle, were patriotic, and brave,
and courageous. Margaret Corbin, with manly fortitude, filled
the place of her husband, who was killed by her side while serving
a piece of artillery, at the attack on Fort Washington, and for this
act of female heroism received a pension from Congress. The story
of the gunner s wife* is not forgotten, who took her husband s post
when he was killed at the battle of Monmouth, and did such execu
tion, that, after the engagement, she was rewarded with a com
mission. Mrs. Ellet has supplied a long list of other "women of
the Revolution," who rendered important services to their coun
try s cause. Deborah Sampson alone, so far as we know, entered
the ranks as a common soldier, and, during two entire campaigns,
performed the arduous duties of such a position. The most re
markable feature of the case is, that during those entire cam
paigns, while mingling constantly with men, night and day, in all
their exercises, through so many months, she maintained her virtue
unsullied, so that her sex was not even suspected. That such was
the fact, we are assured by the Resolve of the Legislature of Mass
achusetts, and by many other concurrent testimonies. Her ex
ample in enlisting as a soldier is certainly not to be commended
to the imitation of our fair countrywomen; but her inflexible reso
lution and firm self-control, after she enlisted, are deserving of high
praise. Indeed, we know not whether, in all respects, the world s
history affords a parallel to the case. Women are always found in
camps, sometimes in great numbers; not always, however, for
worthy ends. Women in men s clothes were found dead at Water
loo, and on other battlefields in Europe. Many remarkable in
stances of female courage and heroism occurred in our late civil
war. Several ladies of culture and refinement exposed themselves
to far greater risks, in the "secret service," both of the Federal
Government and of the rebel army, than were assumed by our
heroine. * Woman, we well know, may have a manly heart. Many
have excelled in manly qualities and in manly exercises, often bear
ing off the palm from the stronger sex.
*Mrs. Smith, wife of Captain Smith of the Army of the Cumberland, left a life of luxury
for the utmost hardships of the camp and the field, to accompany her husband, and serve the
cause of the Union. She distinguished herself as a scout, and performed several extremely bold
exploits. She once captured, single-handed, three rebel soldiers, with their horses, which they
were leading to water. At another time she defeated a plan of the rebels for the capture of her
husband s company and the regiment, by a ride of more than thirty miles on a stormy night,
encountering many dangers on the way. Pauline Cushman, an actress well known in the West,
a woman of great energy and fine personal appearance, rendered very effective and valuable
aid to the operations of the Western armies. Both as a scout and as a spy, she was engaged in
many daring adventures in the cause of the Union, unravelling, by her uncommon talents, more
than one deeply-laid plot of the rebels, and bringing to the leaders of our armies much useful
information from the camps of the enemy. Mrs. Brownell,* wife of Orderly-sergeant R. S.
Brownell, of the Fifth Rhode Island Regiment, accompanied her husband to the war. She was
at the battles of Bull Run, of Roanoke Island, and of Newbern, exhibiting great presence of
mind, attending to the wounded, and encouraging the soldiers by her fortitude. When a stan
dard bearer fell she seized the banner, and, carrying it across the field, received a wound.
[ U. S. Ser. Mag., September, 1865.]
*Died 1914, at New York.
Ducit Amazonidum lunatis agmina peltis
Penthesilea furens, mediisque in millibus ardet,
Aurea subnectens exsertse cingula mammae
Bellatrix, audetque viris concurrere virgo.
But Penthesilea and the Amazons never existed, save in epic poetry;
and the story of Semiramis, long believed, is now fully exploded.
Boadicea, the British warrior-queen, "rushed to battle, fought,
and died." Jane of Montfort, clad in complete armor, performed
prodigies of valor, and, in her little castle of Hennebon, successfully
withstood the arms of France. Joan of Arc,
"The maid with helmed head,
Like a war-goddess, fair and terrible,"
retrieved the desperate affairs of the French realm.. Elizabeth
of England, and Catharine of Russia, nearer our own times, ex
tended their influence and their renown into distant regions.
The following extract of a letter from Hon. William Ellis,
formerly a Senator in Congress, may form a fitting conclusion to
these introductory remarks. It was furnished to the editor by
Hon. Peter Force of Washington, D. C., and is dated Dedham,
February 4, 1837:-
"From my own acquaintance with Deborah Gannett, I can truly say that she was a
woman of uncommon native intellect and force of character. It happens that I have
several connections who reside in the immediate neighborhood where Mrs. Gannett lived
and died; and I have never heard from them, or any other source, any suggestions against
the character of this heroine. Her stature was erect, and a little taller than the average
height of females. Her countenance and voice were feminine; but she conversed with
such ease on the subject of theology, on political subjects, and military tactics, that her
manner would seem to be masculine. I recollect that it once occurred to my mind that
her manner of conversation on any subject embraced that kind of demonstrative, illustra
tive style which we admire in the able diplomatist."
PATRONS AND FRIENDS
C L U M B I A s CAUSE;
THE FEMALE REVIEW
THOUGH not with intentions to encourage the like paradigm
of Female Enterprise but because such a thing, in the
course of nature, has occurred; and because every circum
stance, whether natural, artificial, or accidental, that has been
made conducive to the promotion of our Independence, Peace, and
Prosperity all through Divine Aid, must be sacredly remembered
and extolled by every one, who solicits the Perpetuity of these in
ACCOBDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS
THERE are but two degrees in the characters of mankind that
seem to arrest the attention of the public. The first is that
of him who is the most distinguished in laudable and vir
tuous achievements, or in the promotion of general good. The
second, that of him who has arrived to the greatest pitch in vice
Notwithstanding these characters exhibit the greatest con
trast among mankind, it is not doubted but each, judiciously and
properly managed, may render essential service. Whilst the for
mer ever demands our love and imitation, the other should serve
to fortify our minds against its own attacks exciting only our
pity and detestation. This is the only method, perhaps, by which
good may be said to come out of evil.
My first business, then, with the public, is to inform them, that
the Female who is the subject of the following Memoirs, does not
only exist in theory and imagination, but in reality. And were
she not already known to the public, I might take pride in being
the first to divulge a distinguished Character. Columbia has
given her birth; and I *estimate her natural source too highly to
presume she is dishonoured in the acknowledgment of such an off
However erroneous this idea may be deemed, I shall here
state only two general traits in her life to corroborate its truth.
The criterion will still remain to be formed by a candid and im
She was born and educated in humble obscurity distinguished
during her minority, only by unusual propensities for learning, and
few opportunities to obtain the inestimable prize. At the age of
eighteen she stepped forward upon a more exalted stage of action. f
*According to the Errata in the original, this should read "I should estimate her natural
source too meanly, to presume," etc. [D.]
|The heroine was in her twenty-second year when "she stepped forward upon a more exalted
stage of action." EDITOR.
She found Columbia, her common parent, enveloped and distracted
with confusion, anguish and war. She commiserated, as well as
participated, her sufferings. And as a proof of her fidelity and
filial attachment, she voluntarily offered her services in the char
acter of a Continental Soldier in defence of her cause; by which she
seemed resolved to rescue the rest of her brothers and sisters from
that flagrant destruction, which, every instant, seemed ready to
bury them in one general ruin; or to perish, a noble sacrifice, in the
Having noted the leading traits of this illustrious Fair, I
hasten to give a concise account of the design and execution of the
Justice, in the first place, demands that I should mention the
reluctance with which she has consented to the publication of this
Review of her life. Though it has become more fashionable, in
these days of liberty and liberality, to publish the lives of illus
trious persons, yet she refused the solicitations of a number of
literary characters to publish her own, till after her exit. She is
not a stickler for tradition ; yet this is against her.
About sixteen months ago, by desire of a friend, I made her a
visit for this purpose. She did not positively discard my request.
Being indisposed, she said, should she recover, if I would again be
at the trouble to call on her, she would in the interim take advice,
consult matters with herself and come to a final decision. This was
the first of my acquaintance with her.
In a few weeks, I again waited on her. Having critically
weighed her own feelings, and wishing to gratify the curiosity of
many of whom she had taken advice with extreme modesty and
trembling dissidence, she consented to take a public Review of the
most material circumstances and events of her life. She relies on
that candor and impartiality from the public that now attend the
detail of her Memoirs.
I intended to have executed this work at leisure; as indeed I
have. I had no other way; as the materials were mostly to be col
lected. This, with other pressing avocations in life, brings me
under the necessity to apologize to my worthy Patrons, for the de
lay of its publication a few weeks longer than the intended time.
Sensibly impressed with the idea that every subject intended
for public contemplation should be managed with intentions to
promote general good, I have, in every instance, in the Female
Review, indefatigably labored for this important end. But per
haps I differ from most biographers in this respect. I have taken
liberty to intersperse, through the whole, a series of moral reflec
tions, and have attempted some literary and historical information.
However singular this is, I have the vanity to think it will not be
As an impartial writer, I am bound to handle these Memoirs
in a disinterested manner. But where a total sacrifice of truth does
not forbid, I take pride in publicly avowing, in this place, my de
sire (as every one ought) to extol virtue, rather than give the least
countenance to vice under any name, pretext or sanction. Both
may be represented and discussed Vice exposed Virtue cher
ished, revered and extolled.
The authorities upon which I have ventured for the support of
facts related in the following Memoirs, are not merely the words
of the lady s own mouth. They have been detailed to me by per
sons of veracity and notoriety, who are personally, acquainted with
the circumstances. But I particularly refer my readers to the
documents accompanying the appendix.
It would be almost incredibly strange, should no idle, capri
cious and even calumnious tale take rise with respect to the reputa
tion of the female, distinguished as she is, who is the subject of these
sheets. Being aware of this, she has already anticipated, and per
haps, in some measure experienced it. Her precaution now is, to
prepare for the worst. She dreads no censure no lash of asper
sion more than that of the judicious and virtuous. My own wishes
are in this respect, as in all others, that truth, candor and charity
may be our ruling principles. When we seriously consider the
horrors, dangers and general fare of war that it is unavoidably
attended with many irregularities, to which she was exposed in
common with the rest; and yet, if it be found that decorum and
propriety of conduct predominated in her general pursuits, we
may bear to palliate a few foibles, from which we, even in our most
sequestered, happy and serene retirements, are not, always, exempt.
There are but two sides to a person s character any more than
there are to his garments the dark and bright. In many re
searches in the Female Review, though I have decidedly declared
my choice for virtuous and laudable actions, yet, I have endeavour
ed to pay proper attention to their opponents, when they happened
to make me visits. But if I must hereafter suffer the lash of as
persion from either sex for having shown partiality, I shall rejoice
in the conscientious satisfaction of having given the preference to
the bright side.
Perhaps there is not one new idea, in the course of these Me
moirs, advanced or hinted on the important business of education.
But should I be so successful, as to rouse the minds and excite the
attention of the inattentive to those principles which have before
been deemed useful I shall esteem it the most agreeable and ample
compensation for my endeavours.
Suspicious, from my first engagement, that the Female Re
view would be a subject as delicate, especially for the Ladies, as
it is different from their pursuits, I have studiously endeavored
to meliorate every circumstance that might seem too much tinc
tured with the rougher, masculine virtues. This, however, has
not been attempted with the duplicity of a facetious courtier; but
with a diction softened and comported to the taste of the vir-
tuous female. And although I am a well-wisher to their whole
circle, it is the case of this class, only, I wish to promote.
I cannot disapprove their vehement attachment to many
novels even to the productions of our own soil. Whilst they
touch the passions with all that is captivating and agreeable, they
inspire manly thoughts and irresistibly gain our assent to virtue.
As the peculiar events that have given rise to the Female Review
stand without a rival in American annals, I also hope my endeavours
to render it agreeably entertaining and useful to them may not
prove fallacious nor in vain. I readily yield the palm of style to
the rapturous and melting expressions of the novelist: But I must
vie with him in one respect: What he has painted in embryo, I
have represented in expansion.
This gallant Heroine has been reared under our own foster
age: and to reject her now would be disowning a providential cir
cumstance in our revolutionary epoch, which the annals of time
Europe has exhibited its chivalry and wonders. It now re
mains for America to do the same: And perhaps the most singular
is already past her beginning in infancy! It is a wonder, but a
truth full of satisfaction, that North America has become free and
independent. But a few years have elapsed since this memorable
era; yet even the face of nature has assumed a new and beautiful
aspect. Under the fostering powerful hands of industry and econ
omy, art and science have taken a rapid growth. The wreath of
Virtue has sprung up; and Liberty delights in twining it round her
votary s brow.
Happy in the possession of such a Source for improvement, we
should be barbarians to ourselves to be inattentive to its promotion.
Whilst other nations may envy us the enjoyment of such distin
guished rights and felicity Heaven grant we may vie with them
only for that, which dignifies and promotes the character of Man.
MASSACHUSETTS, July, 1797.
AMERICAN YOUNG LADY;
WHOSE LIFE AND CHARACTER ARE PECULIARLY DISTIN
GUISHED BEING A CONTINENTAL SOLDIER, FOR NEARLY
THREE YEARS, IN THE LATE AMERICAN WAR.
DURING WHICH TIME,
SHE PERFORMED THE DUTIES OF EVERY DEPARTMENT,
INTO WHICH SHE WAS CALLED, WITH PUNCTUAL EXACTNESS,
FIDELITY AND HONOR, AND PRESERVED HER CHASTITY IN
VIOLATE, BY THE MOST ARTFUL CONCEALMENT OF HER SEX.
CHARACTERISTIC TRAITS, BY DIFFERENT HANDS; HER
TASTE FOR ECONOMY, PRINCIPLES OF DOMESTIC EDUCA
By a CITIZEN of MASSACHUSETTS.
D E D H A M :
NATHANIEL AND BENJAMIN HEATON.
FOR THE AUTHOR.
TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK
Being Extra Number 47 of THE MAGAZINE OF HISTORY WITH NOTES AND QUERIES
AMERICAN YOUNG LADY
A laconic History of Miss Sampson s extraction. Local, and other situations of her
parents. Her endowments natural temper and disposition. Her propensities for
EBORAH SAMPSON was born in Plympton, a small village
in the county of Plymouth in New England, December 17,
1760. 1 She is a regular descendant of the honorable family
1 Her pedigree on the father s side is as follows: -
I. Abraham Sampson 1 came to Plymouth either in August, 1629, or in May of the following
year. He was then a young man, and appears to have belonged to the English congregation
at Leyden, in Holland, and to have come over with such members of that congregation as chose
to remove to America after the death of their pastor, Rev. John Robinson. There can be no
doubt that he was a brother of Henry Sampson, who came in the Mayflower, when a boy, in
1620. Abraham Sampson settled in Duxbury, where Henry also resided, and died there, at an
advanced age, about the year 1690. He had four sons, who became heads of families, Sam
uel 2 , George 2 , Abraham 2 , Isaac. 2 *
II. Isaa c Sampson 2 , the youngest son, was born in Duxbury, in 1660. He was one of the
first settlers of Plympton, a town originally a part of Plymouth, but incorporated as a separate
municipality in 1707. He died in Plympton, September 3, 1726. His wife was Lydia Stan-
dish 3 , daughter of Alexander Standish 2 , and grand-daughter of Miles Standish 1 , the military
leader of the Pilgrims. The mother of Lydia Standish was Sarah Alden, 2 daughter of John
Alden 1 , that "hopeful young man," as Bradford calls him, who joined the Pilgrim company at
Southampton, in August, 1620, and spent a long life in important services to the Plymouth
Colony, dying, in 1687, at the age of eighty-eight.
*This expression Isaac 2 , denotes that Isaac 2 was of the second generation, counting from and In
cluding the first American ancestor.
36 THE FEMALE REVIEW
of William Bradford, 2 a native of England, a man of excellent nat
ural endowments, upon which, he made great improvement by
learning. He emigrated to America whilst young; where he was
for many years alternately, elected Governor of the Colony of
Plymouth. In this department he presided with wisdom and punc
tuality, and to the unanimous satisfaction of the people under his
charge. He married an American lady of distinction, by whom he
had considerable issue. As he lived beloved and reverenced, he
died lamented by all, 1756.
Her grand-father, Elisha Bradford, 3 was a native of Plymouth
III. Jonathan Sampson 3 , the second son of Isaac Sampson 2 and of Lydia Standish 3 , was
born in 1690, and lived in Plympton all his days. Like his father and grandfather, he was a
tiller of the soil. His wife was Joanna Lucas. He died in Plympton, February 3, 1758, aged
68. He had but one son, who arrived at mature years, named for himself, to wit:
IV. Jonathan Sampson 4 , junior, who was born in Plympton, April 3, 1729. He was by
his wife Deborah Bradford 4 , the father of Deborah Sampson, the heroine of this story. [See
Sampson Genealogy, in the "Giles Memorial," issued, in 1864, by the editor.]
2 William Bradford 1 was born at Austerfield, in Yorkshire, England, in 1588. His father
and grandfather lived in the same place, and bore the same name. About 1608, he went with
Mr. Robinson s congregation to Amsterdam, and in 1609 to Leyden. He came to Plymouth in
the Mayflower, accompanied by his wife, whose maiden name was Dorothy May. This lady,
however, never reached Plymouth, but was accidentally drowned, December 7, 1620, while the
Mayflower remained in the harbor of Provincetown. His second wife, married August 14, 1623,
was the widow Alice Southworth, who had just arrived in the Ann. After the death of Carver,
in April, 1621, Mr. Bradford was chosen Governor of the infant colony. He was re-elected to
that office every year till 1657, except five years, 1633, 34, 36, 38, 44. In those years he
was chosen Assistant. For thirty-seven years, he was the foremost man in Plymouth Colony.
He was acquainted not only with the Dutch and French languages, but with the Latin, Greek,
and Hebrew, For an unselfish public spirit, and a general nobleness of character, he has had
among men no superior. At his death, which took place May 9, 1657 (not 1756, as stated in
the text), he was "lamented by all the colonies of New England, as a common blessing and
father to them all." By his second wife, he was the father of William 2 , who distinguished him
self as a commander of the Plymouth forces in "Philip s War," and was several years Deputy
Governor of the colony; and of Joseph 2 , who was born in 1630, and married Jael, daughter of
Rev. Peter Hobart, first minister of Hingham, in 1664. Joseph Bradford 2 lived in Kingston,
then a part of Plymouth, on Jones River, half a mile from its mouth.
3 Elisha Bradford 3 was the son of Joseph Bradford 2 , last mentioned, and grandson of the
Governor. His first wife was Hannah Cole; his second, Bathsheba Le Broche, as in the text.
The Bradford Genealogy gives, as the date of the second marriage, September 7, 1718, which
must be correct, as the first child by this marriage was born in April, 1719. His children were
By first wife: Hannah 4 , who married Joshua Bradford 4 , b. June 23, 1710, son of Israel Brad-
THE FEMALE REVIEW 37
in New England. He possessed good abilities, and explored many
sources that led him to literary distinction. As he was eminent
in property, so piety, humanity and uprightness were the distin
guishing characteristics of his life. He was married, September 7,
1719, to Bathsheba Le Broche, a French lady of elegant extraction
and accomplishments. Her father was a native of Paris. He left
a large issue; of which Miss Sampson s mother is one. But Mr.
Bradford, for one of his benevolent offices, being bound for a ship
and rich cargo belonging to a merchant of the same town, had the
misfortune to lose the greater part of his interest. Thus deprived,
at once, of what he had learned to prize by the industry and econ
omy it cost him, it is natural to suppose it was no small discourage
ment to him, and that the face of things wore a different aspect
around him : especially when we reflect, that the fulfilment of those
principles, which exert themselves in acts of benevolence and affec
tion towards all persons, depend, greatly, on wealth. Being at this
time considerably advanced in years, this circumstance, together
with the loss of his eldest son, preyed fast upon his constitution:
And he did not long survive to mourn the loss of what seemed not
in his power to remedy.
Miss Sampson s parents, though endowed with good abilities,
cannot, in an eminent degree, be distinguished either by fortune
or scientific acquisition. Her father was an only son, and heir to
ford of Kingston, who was a son of Major William Bradford 2 , and grandson of the Governor.
Joshua Bradford 4 removed from Kingston to Meduncook, now Friendship, Maine, where, on
May 27, 1756, both himself and wife were killed by a party of Indians, who carried their chil
dren to Canada, where they remained in captivity till the conquest of that province by the
English, in 1759. They then returned to Meduncook. By second wife: Hannah 4 , b. April
10, 1719.* Joseph 4 , b. December 17, 1721. Nehemiah 4 , b. July 27, 1724. Laurana 4 . b.
March 26, 1726; married Elijah McFarland of Plympton. Mary 4 , b. August 1, 1727. Elisha 4 ,
b. October 6, 1729. Lois 4 , b. January 30, 1731. Deborah 4 , b. November 18, 1732; married
Jonathan Sampson, jr.: she was the mother of Deborah Sampson. Alice 4 , b. November 3,
1734; married Waters of Sharon, Mass. Asenath 4 , b. September 15, 1736. Carpenter 4 ,
b. February 7, 1739. Abigail 4 , b. June 20, 1741. Chloe 4 , b. April 6, 1743.HBradford Gen
ealogy, in Gen. Reg., vol. iv., p. 48.
instances are not wanting in our early records of the giving of the same name to another child in
the same family during the lifetime of the first.
38 THE FEMALE REVIEW
no inconsiderable estate. And if it be asked why her parents had
not a more liberal education? the answer may be a general objec
tion: Different persons are actuated by different objects of pur
suit. Some, it is evident, have leading propensities for the ac
cumulation of lucrative gain: whilst others, who possess it, gladly
embrace the opportunity for their advancement in literature.
It was doubtless the intention of Mr. Bradford to have given
his children good education. But whether the wreck in his fortune,
or whether his numerous progeny restrained the liberality of his
bestowments in this respect, I pretend not to affirm. It is how
ever more than probable, that her mother s, and perhaps her
father s, education, in some respects, was superior to that of the
It is no dishonorable trait in the character of any in America
to be born farmers; even if they pursue the occupation through
life. Their aim, however, must be to furnish themselves with the
requisites which will render them useful and happy, and those who
are round about them. Had the latter of these blessings been con
ferred on Miss Sampson s father, he might, peradventure, have
surmounted difficulties, which it is thought, tended to make him
fickle and perhaps too loose in his morals. He met with a sad dis
appointment in his father s estate, occasioned by the ill designs,
connivings and insinuations of a brother-in-law. 4 Thus, he was
disinherited of a portion that belonged to him by hereditary right.
This circumstance, alone, made such impressions on his mind, that
instead of being fired with a just spirit of resentment and emula
tion to supply, by good application and economy, that of which he
4 His father, Jonathan Sampson, senior, died in 1758. In the division of the estate, which
took place in 1759, a brother-in-law managed to deprive him (Deborah s father) of what he ex
pected as his share of the property. Whether the expectation were well founded or not, does
not appear. For aught that appears on the Probate Records, the distribution was fair, though
it may have been otherwise. The disappointment occurred only the year before Deborah s
birth, and seems to have made him desperate. Mortified pride seems to have driven him from
home. He appears to have fallen into habits of intemperance. His wife was an estimable
THE FEMALE REVIEW 39
had been unjustly deprived, he was led into opposite pursuits,
which she laments, as being his greatest misfortune.
Such was her father s local situation after his marriage with
her mother. She informs that she had but very little knowledge
of her father during her juvenile years. Despairing of accumulat
ing an interest by his domestic employments, his bent of mind led
him to follow the seafaring business, which, as her mother informed
her, he commenced before her birth. Ho\vever great his prospects
were, that fortune would prove more propitious to his prosperity
and happiness upon the ocean than it had done on the land, he was
effectually disappointed: For after he had continued this fruitless
employment some years, he took a voyage to some part of Europe,
from whence he was not heard of for some years. At length, her
mother was informed, he had perished in a shipwreck.
By this time his unsuccessful fortune, both by land and sea,
had the tendency to break up his family. Her mother, however,
by her industry and economical management, kept her family to
gether as long as possible after her husband s supposed catastrophe.
But she, meeting with sickness, and other providential misfor
tunes, was obliged, at length, to disband her family and to scatter
her children abroad. 5
It may perhaps be remarked, that nothing uncommonly sin
gular has attended Miss Sampson in the primeval stages of her
life. Yet the inquisitive and curious mind, which is never tired
in tracing the events and performances of the most distinguished
characters, is wont to extend its researches still further, and to en
quire where and how they have lived, and by what methods and
gradations they arrived at the summit of their undertakings. I
believe it is a truth to which we may generally assent, that most
5 There were five children, two sons and three daughters, viz.: Robert Shurtleff. Eph-
raim. Sylvia, who married, April 6, 1799, Jacob Cushman, b. February 29, 1747-8, son of
Benjamin Cushman of Plympton. See Cushman Genealogy. Deborah, b. December 17, 1760,
the heroine of our story. The fifth child was a daughter, whose name is to us unknown.
40 THE FEMALE REVIEW
illustrious characters originate, either from very low or very high
birth and circumstances. I therefore beg the reader s indulgence,
whilst I trace the most singular circumstances and events that oc
curred to Miss Sampson during her juvenility; which may not be
deemed wholly useless and unentertaining.
She was scarcely five years old, when the separation from her
mother was occasioned by indigent circumstances. 6 The affection
ate and prudent parent can best describe the emotions experienced
by the mother and her daughter upon this occasion. The young
Miss Sampson had already contracted an attachment to letters;
and in many other respects promised fair to crown the instructions
and assiduity of a parent, or patroness, with the most desirable
success. And it was with pain her mother saw these flattering
symptoms without being able to promote, or scarcely to encourage
them by the fosterage of parental care and affection. Nor was the
darkness of the scene dissipated, until a distant relation of her
mother s, an elderly maiden by the name of Fuller, proffered to
adopt her into her family, and take the charge of her education. 7
This was a very honest and discreet lady. She shewed her
young pupil many tokens of care and affection. But as Miss Samp
son remarked "As I was born to be unfortunate, my sun soon
clouded." She had not continued in this agreeable situation
scarcely three years, before her benefactress was seized with a vio
lent malady, which in a few days proved fatal.
6 Notwithstanding the "indigent circumstances" out of which our heroine emerged, it
should be borne in mind that some of the best blood of the Old Colony flowed in her veins. A
descendant of John Alden, of Miles Standish, of Peter Hobart, and of William Bradford, and a
cousin-german of Captain Simeon Samson, one of the distinguished naval commanders of the
Revolution, there was much in her family connections to gratify an honest pride.
7 Thus was Deborah, in the tender period of childhood, when the heart is most open to
impressions, and when it most needs the counsels and the restraints of parental love, virtually
bereft of both her parents. The loss she now sustained could never be repaired. She had al
ready exhibited indications of talent, and a thirst for knowledge. She had, under the tuition
of her mother, begun to read. Her perceptions were quick, her imagination lively, her affec
tions warm. Could her talents have been developed by proper culture, she might have adorned
an elevated position in society.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 41
Although she was, at that time, not more than eight years old,
she was much affected with the loss of her patroness. She deemed
it almost irreparable : considered herself without a home, or scarce
ly a friend to procure her one. But this scene was too distressing
to last long. Her mother, hearing of her circumstances, endeav
ored to obtain a suitable place for her, till she should come of age.
She was put into one Mrs. Thacher s family in Middleborough,
where she continued about 7 two years. 8 This lady took particular
care to gratify her favorite propensity for reading, &c., but as she
was of a slender constitution, her mother removed her to Mr.
Jeremiah Thomas s, of the same town. 9
Is it indeed, sadly true that nature, our common source of be-
8 It has been supposed, and not without reason, that this lady was the widow of Rev.
Peter Thacher, the third minister of Middleborough. Mr. Thacher was born in Milton, Oc
tober 6, 1688, and was son of Rev. Peter Thacher of that place, and grandson of Rev. Thomas
Thacher, first minister of the Old South Church in Boston. He was pastor of the Church in
Middleborough from 1709 till his death, in 1744, in the 56th year of his age. If the supposition
just mentioned be correct, Mrs. Thacher must have been, at the time when Deborah was in her
family, more than eighty years of age, as she died in 1771, aged 84. In this case, services may
have been required which a child ten years old was not able to perform. Plympton has Middle-
borough on the south-west, joining it.
9 The History of the First Church in Middleborough, printed about twelve years since, con
tains a list of all who have been members of that church from its organization, in 1695, to 1853.
This list appears to have been compiled with uncommon care. It contains the name of only
one Jeremiah Thomas; and he died in 1736, ae.ll. The individual intended in the text must
have been Benjamin Thomas, who was chosen deacon in 1776, and died January 18, 1800, ae. 78.
In the MS. memoir of Deborah Sampson, he is called "Deacon Thomas," without any mention
of his baptismal name, which Deborah had evidently forgotten. The following facts are re
lated of him in the History of the First Church, already mentioned: "Deacon Thomas, though
not of a cultivated mind in other respects, was well versed in the Scriptures, of inflexible virtue,
of sound and clear orthodoxy, and conscientious in the performance of known duty; holding on
upon the old landmarks, and refusing to let them go. In 1782, he was a representative in the
Legislature, and, in 1788, a member of the Convention which adopted the Federal Constitu
tion. A bill was under discussion for repealing the law of primogeniture. The deacon ex
pressed his doubts on the matter, because the Scriptures showed special favors to the first born.
A Boston gentleman said that the deacon mistook the Scriptures; for they said that Jacob,
though the younger brother, inherited the birthright. The deacon replied, The gentleman
had forgotten to tell us how he obtained it, how Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage,
and how Jacob deceived his father, pretending to be Esau, and how his mother helped on the
deception, he had forgotten all that! The laugh, which was at first against the deacon, was
now turned against the gentleman from Boston." The deacon was more than a match for him.
42 THE FEMALE REVIEW
ing, is unequal in her intellectual bestowments on the human species?
If not, the apparent difference must be in the manner in which they
are exhibited. This I am inclined to believe: and the greatest
remedy is education. Hence the shrewd saying "Learning keeps
him out of fire and water." An excellent stimulation for every
one. Logicians, I trust, will allow me to form an estimation of
Miss Sampson s endowments, even before she had reached her
teens. This I do, without a design to flatter her into vain con
ceits of herself, or to wheedle any one of the human species into her
favor, or esteem of the writer. It is a just tribute of respect due
to the illustrious poor.
Certain it is that she early discovered, at least to every judi
cious observer, tokens of a fertile genius and an aspiring mind: a
mind quick of perception and of strong penetration. And if it be
allowable to judge of things past by their present aspect, I hesitate
not to announce that her primeval temper was uniform and tran
quil. Though destitute of many advantages of education, she
happened to fix on many genuine principles. She may be noted
for a natural sweetness and pliability of temper a ready wit,
which only needed refinement a ready conformity to a parent s,
or patroness injunctions a native modesty and softness in ex
pression and deportment, and passions naturally formed for phi
lanthropy and commiseration.
A further enumeration might give occasion for a new apology.
Nor have I a right to describe her abilities in proportion to the im
provements she has since made. I might fall into gross errors.
Nature might complain of injustice for making a wrong estimate of
her bounties. And it is a truth, too often to be lamented, that she
oftener complains of uncultivated talents, than for not giving any
for cultivation. Our endowments, of course, must be equal, if
not superior to our improvements. Should the contrary be urged,
those principles which have dictated her exertions, might lose a
part of their energetic influence; in which she still delights. Had
THE FEMALE REVIEW 43
she shared greater advantages in education, she might have much
exceeded the proficiency in erudition, but scarcely the singularity
of character, which she has since attained.
It was a circumstance peculiarly unhappy with Miss Sampson,
during her minority, that she found less opportunities than inclina
tions for learning. The instances I shall adduce to corroborate this
assertion, will be comprised in the next chapter; where the reader
will find a general sketch of her education during this period.
I shall only add, that many of our humble peasantry in America
would have thanked fortune, if this evil had been confined to her.
It is not so great a w r onder, as it is a lamentable truth, which ob
servation in many families may evince, that they have amassed
together a greater bulk of riches than of useful science; whilst per
haps, the man who never could obtain a mediocrity of wealth,
only needed it to vie with them in every thing useful and orna
mental. Thus the most fertile genius, like that of soil, which for
want of proper cultivation is overrun with noxious \veeds, becomes
corrupted by neglect and vicious habit: and the inherent beauties
that might have eclipsed a more than ordinary show, lie dormant.
Where then, could the Guardians of science have been secret
ed! or had they not taken an universal charge of this growing em
pire! Instances of this kind, however, are more rarely met with
than formerly. And this error will always find the best apology
in the population of new countries, where the means for subsistence
unavoidably demand the most attention. But affluence, without
being regulated by refined education, cloys the sight of the beholder;
and the possessors are unqualified for duty. The minds of people
are now roused by the introduction of new scenes and objects.
And it is here to be repeated, to the honor of the citizens of New
England, and the United States in general, that they are, with suc
cess, endeavoring to counterbalance this once prevailing evil; at
least they would make an equilibrium between their wealth and
44 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Let not, therefore, any who have talents for improvement, des
pair of success in any situation. Though a Franklin has become
extinct, a Washington survives. Our native land smiles under the
fostering hand of industry and economy. It will still produce our
men of government, our guardians of science, and our encouragers
and promoters of virtue.
Miss Sampson s propensities for learning, and the obstacles she met with in it, contrasted.
View of her education during her juvenility hi which tune, she contracts a taste
for the study of nature or natural philosophy; which teaches her regular ideas of
Deity the necessity of morality and decorum in her pursuits.
WE are now to view Miss Sampson advancing into the bloom
and vigor of youth. In this season comes on the trial of
virtue and of the permanency of that foundation, upon
which improvements have begun. The passions having assumed
greater degrees of vigor, and still susceptible of quick and delicate
impressions from their natural attachment to the sexes, and other
alluring objects of pursuit, it becomes accountable that so many of
both sexes, especially those deprived of genuine education, fail
of that uniform course of improvement in knowledge and virtue
which is the only barrier against vice and folly, and our surest
guidance through life. If she be found, at this age, persevering in
these duties and surmounting the principal allurements to inde
corum and vice, I need not hesitate to announce her a singular
paradigm for many in better circumstances and in higher life.
From the time she went to live in Mr. Thomas s family, 10 till
10 Deborah lived in the family of Deacon Thomas from the age of ten to that of eighteen.
His house was in a retired spot, about two miles east of the central village of Middleborough
Four Corners. It was a substantial building, the timbers and roof-boards being made of
white-oak. Here Deborah was well clad, and her physical wants were well supplied. The
deacon had a good farm, and he and his family were good livers. Deborah s health became
confirmed, and she acquired a bodily vigor which fitted her to encounter the hardships of sub
sequent years. She became acquainted with almost all kinds of manual labor proper to her sex.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 45
she was eighteen, it may be said she lived in common with other
youth of her own sex; except in two very important respects:
She had stronger propensities for improvement, and less oppor
tunities to acquire it. Industry and economy excellent virtues!
being hereditary in this family, she was of course inured to them.
And as their children were numerous, and chiefly of the masculine
sex, it is not improbable that her athletic exercises were more in
tense on that account. As they appeared more eager in the amass
ing of fortune than of scientific acquisition, she was obliged to check
the bud, which had already begun to expand, and to yield the palm
of the fulfilment of her duty to her superintendents in the manner
they deemed best, to the sacrifice of her most endearing propensities
But painful was the thought that she must suffer the bolt to be
turned upon this, her favorite pursuit. Wounding was the sight
of others going to school, when she could not, because she could not
be spared. Her reflections were singular, considering her age,
when contrasting her privileges with those of other children, who
had parents to take the charge of their education. It was a circum
stance effectually mortifying to her, that she could not hold familiar
ity, even with the children of the family, on their school topics.
But the ambition that agitated her mind made her wont to believe
her lot as good as that of orphans in general.
Happy it was for her, at this age, that neither mortification
nor prohibition impeded her inherent propensity for learning. This
instead of being weakened, was strengthened by time; though she
had not devised any effectual method to gratify it. She had often
heard that a forward and promising youth is short lived. But
she did not believe it. And in this respect her longevity was rested
She learned to spin and weave, accomplishments which were then thought indispensable to a
young woman. She could also, when occasion required, harness the family horse, and ride
him to plough, or to the village on errands. She was not only familiar with the work of the
dairy, but when a shower was coming up could rake hay, and help to stow it away in the barn.
She was, moreover, a tolerable mechanic. If she wanted a basket, a milking-stool, or a sled,
she could make it. Indeed, she acquired the habit of adapting herself to existing circumstances,
whatever they might be.
46 THE FEMALE REVIEW
on as good safety, as was that of the wisest man: Nor have I the
least inclination to censure either. The preceptor knows it is a
task to kindle sparks of emulation in most children; and reason in
forms him, when they are naturally kindled, it is an injurious en
gine that extinguishes the flame.
It is the pride of some undisciplined, tyrannical tempers to
triumph over supposed ignorance, distress and poverty. In this
our better-deserving orphan found a source of mortification. 11 But
magnanimity and hope ever soothing companions! elevated her
above despair. The ideas of being rivalled by her mates in learning
and decorum, guarded their proper receptacle, and prompted the
establishment of the following maxims: Never neglect the least
circumstance that may be made conducive to improvement: Op
portunity is a precious companion ; which is too often sadly verified
by the fool s companions, folly and procrastination thieves that
rob the world of its treasure.
Her method was to listen to every one she heard read and
speak with propriety. And when she could, without intrusion,
catch the formation of a letter from a penman, she gladly embraced
it. She used to obtain what school books and copies she could
from the children of the family, as models for her imitation. Her
leisure interims were appropriated to these talks with as little re
luctance as common children went to play.
Availing herself of such methods with unremitted ardor, to
gether with promiscuous opportunities at school, she at length
found herself mistress of pronunciation and sentences to such a de
gree, that she was able to read, with propriety, in almost any book
11 There is no reason to suppose that anything of this sort was true of Deacon Thomas or
any of his family. He was a most worthy man, careful and conscientious in all things; but,
like most of the New England farmers of that age, he could not comprehend the value of learn
ing, except as it contributed to immediate practical results. Deborah was bound to him till
the age of eighteen; and he considered himself entitled to her services whenever they were
wanted. She attended school a part of the time; and, when out of school, she induced the chil
dren of the family to teach her. The scanty opportunities allowed, she improved to the ut
THE FEMALE REVIEW 47
in her language. The like application, in process of time qualified
her to write a legible hand. As soon as she could write, she volunta
rily kept a journal of common occurrences; an employment not
unworthy the humblest peasant, or the most renowned sage. 12
The anxiety and aspirations of her mind after knowledge at
length became more notorious to many, who made learning their
element. As catechetical tuition, in some respects, was more in
use thirty years ago than now, she committed to memory, at an
early age, the Catechism by the Assembly of Divines, and could
recite a prolix proof of it verbatim. 13 By this she secured the es
teem and approbation of her village curate; 14 which he expressed
by many flattering expressions, and a donation of a few books. And
to mention the epistolary correspondence, which she commenced
at the age of twelve, with a young lady of polite accomplishments
who had not only offered to supply her with paper, but with what
ever instructions she could, would be reminding her of a debt
which she could only repay by her gratitude for such obliging con-
descention. The correspondence was of much utility to her in her
Thus, so much genius and taste were not always to remain
sequestered, like a pearl in the bowels of the deep, or in an inac
cessible place. Nor must I insinuate that she was here deprived
of many other principal advantages of education. She fared well
12 She kept this journal on the singular plan of recording her good deeds on the first, third,
fifth, &&lt;?., pages, and her bad deeds on the opposite pages. As might be expected, the opposite
pages were soonest filled.
13 The Catechism was doubtless committed to memory by all the young members of the
family. This was a family of the good old Puritan stamp, exact in the observance of the Sab
bath, regular attendants on public worship, punctual in their daily devotions. The parents
disapproved, and indeed prohibited to those under their care, all gay and frivolous amuse
ments; and taught them, both by precept and example, the strictest lessons of morality and
virtue. But so much serious religion was irksome to the buoyant spirit of Deborah; and she
contracted a disrelish for it which remained in after-life.
14 "Her village curate" strange expresson! was Rev. Sylvanus Conant. He was pastor
of the First Church in Middleborough from March 28, 1745, till his death, December 8, 1777.
48 THE FEMALE REVIEW
for food and raiment; and that, she reflected, was better than could
be said of many of her surrounding companions. It is with res
pect and gratitude she speaks of her superintendents on many
other accounts. She has often said with emotion that the most
mortifying punishment she ever received from her master, was
"You are always hammering upon some book I wish you would
n t spend so much time in scribbling over paper." Had he been
possessed of Miss Hannah More s beautiful satire, he might, more
politely, have recited the same ideas:
"I wish she d leave her books, and mend her clothes:
I thank my stars, I know no verse from prose."
They not only carefully habituated her to industry and domestic
economy in general, but from them, her mistress in particular, she
experienced lessons of morality and virtue, which she thinks could
not have failed to have been beneficial to any one whose heart had
not been too much tipped with adamantine hardness, or whose
faculties had not been totally wrapped in inattention. Indeed,
the laborious exercises to which she was accustomed during her
stay in this family, may be considered of real service to her. They
added strength and permanency to her naturally good constitu
tion; kept the mind awake to improvements (for the mind will
doze, when indolence seizes the body), and thus prepared her to
endure the greater hardships which were to characterize her future
It is with peculiar pleasure I here find occasion to speak of
Miss Sampson s taste for the study of Nature, or Natural Philos
ophy. More agreeable still would be my talk, had she enjoyed
opportunities, that her proficiency in it might have been equal to
her relish for it.
That Philosophy should ever have been treated with indiffer
ence, much less with intentional neglect, is an idea that affords
singular astonishment to every rational mind. The philosopher
has been considered as not a man of this world ; as an unsocial and
THE FEMALE REVIEW 49
unfit companion, and wanting in the general duties of life. * Such
ideas must have been the result of a very erroneous acceptation of
the word, or of a mind not a little tinctured with prejudice. I
have always conceived that philosophy is a scientific sphere, in
which we are enjoined to act by nature, reason and religion ; which
serve as a directory, or auxiliaries to accelerate us in it. The phi
losopher, then, instead of being rendered a useless object in society,
and wanting in the general duties of life, is the person most eminent
ly qualified for a useful member of society, the most agreeably
calculated for an intercourse and union with the sexes, best ac
quainted with the social and enjoined duties of life; and is thus
preparing himself for a more refined being in futurity.
It must then have been merely from the abstruseness, which
many people have falsely imagined attends this most plain and
useful of all sciences, that they have been deterred from the pur
suit of it. But however reprobated and useless the study of phi
losophy may have been deemed for the man of sense, and much
more dangerous for the other sex, it is certain that it is now emer
ging from an obsolete state to that of a fashionable and reputable
employment. Ignorance in it being now the thing mostly to be
dreaded. And many of both sexes are not ashamed of having the
appellation conferred on them in any situation in life.
I learn from Miss Sampson s diurnals, and from the credibility
of others, that she early discovered a taste for the contemplation of
the objects and appearances exhibited in creation. She was no
torious for her frequent interrogatories relative to their nature,
use and end. Nor is this, in a degree, unnatural for children in
general. Natural Creation is a source that first excites the notice
and attention of all. I have myself observed even infants, after
long confinement, appear reanimated and filled with admiration
on being again brought into the refulgence of the Sun or Moon, the
*I here particularly allude to a small performance, which contains, among these, many
excellent moral maxims. It was written by a female, and entitled "The Whole Duty
50 THE FEMALE REVIEW
spangled appearance of the stars, the enamelled mead, the aspir
ing grove, or a single floweret. Thus they make it a voluntary act
to enquire into their origin, use and end. Whereas it often hap
pens, that the same child, by reason of some nursed, ill habit of
temper, will brook no controul by the best moral precept or ex
ample, except it be from the dread of corporeal punishment.
This, therefore, should rouze the attention of parents. As the
first dawning of reason in their children displays itself in this way,
they should make it their peculiar care to assist and encourage it
in every respect. Nature, indeed, may be considered as a general
monitor and instructor. But it is from experience and practical
experiments that we are facilitated in the acquisition of knowledge.
Here taste for the cultivation of plants and vegetable produc
tions in general, appears to have been somewhat conspicuous in her
early years. And she has intimated an idea of this kind, which,
from its justness, and the delicate effects it has on many of the
softer passions, induces me to notice it. It has been a source of
astonishment and mortification to her that so many of her own,
as well as of the other sex, can dwell with rapture on a romantic
scene of love, a piece of painting or sculpture, and, perhaps, upon
things of more trivial importance; and yet can walk in the stately
and venerable grove, can gaze upon the beautifully variegated land
scape, can look with indifference upon the rose and tulip, or can
tread on a bank of violets and primroses, without appearing to be
affected with any peculiar sensations and emotions. This certain
ly proceeds from a wrong bias of the mind in its fixing on its first
objects of pursuit. And parents cannot be too careful in the pre
vention of such errors, when they are forming the minds of their
offspring for the courses which are to affect the passions, and give
sway to the behavior during life.
I know not whether it \vas from her mental application to books,
instructions from public or private preceptors, or from her own
observations on nature, that she acquired the most knowledge of
THE FEMALE REVIEW 51
philosophy and astronomy. Perhaps it was from some advantage
of the whole. I am however authorized to say, both from her
infant memorandums and verbal communications, that she did
obtain, during her juvenility, many just ideas respecting them.
She has assured me the questions she used to ask, relative to the
rising and setting of the Sun, Moon, &c., never ceased agitating her
mind till she had formed proper ideas of the spherical figure of the
Earth, and of its diurnal and annual revolutions. In this manner,
she acquired a smattering of the Solar System. But she has no
wish even now, for having the appellation philosopher or astron
omer, conferred on her. But my readers may conclude it is merely
on account of her fancied ignorance of those sublime sciences.
She frequently made it her custom to rise in the morning be
fore twilight. During the Spring, Summer and Autumn, it seems,
she was peculiarly attached to rural speculation. And, as though
she had been a Shepherdess, she was frequently seen in some ad
jacent field, when the radiant orb of day first gleamed on the hill
tops to cheer and animate vegetable nature with his prolific and
The studious and contemplative mind can best interpret her
motive in this, and the utility of it. To those who have seldom
or never enjoyed the delicious repasts of this tranquil hour, it may
be said the mind, like the body, having rested from the toils and
bustle of the day, awakes in a state of sereneness the best calculated
for contemplation, for the reception and impression of ideas, which
this season, above all others, seems capable of affording. The
physician may also inform, that early rising is a cordial and preser--
vative of health. It creates a lively carnation on the cheek, adds
vigor and activity to the limbs and senses, which no one wishes to
exchange for the languishing constitution, the pallid countenance,
and mind staggering with the weight of an inactive body, of him
who takes too much repose on his downy pillow.
The dawning of day \vhen the sun is dissipating the darkness,
52 THE FEMALE REVIEW
all nature assuming reanimation, each tribe of instinct hastening
to its respective occupation, and man, who had been confined in
morbid inactivity, reassuming strength and cheerfulness is em
blematic of Creation rising out of its original chaos or non-exis
tence. Surely then, this scene cannot fail of filling the philosophic
mind with just and sublime ideas, and with the purest love and
gratitude to that Being, who caused them to exist and who still
regulates and superintends the whole.
Miss Sampson has repeatedly said, that her mind was never
more effectually impressed with the power, wisdom and benefi
cence of Deity than in the contemplation of his Creation. It affords
ideas the most familiar and dignified, and lessons the most strik
ing, captivating and beautifully sublime.
The Earth, which is computed to be 25,038 English miles in
circumference, and to contain about 199,512,595 square miles of
surface, is indeed a large body. * The thoughts of its construction,
of its convenient situations for its innumerable species of inhabi
tants, and of the abundance of good it affords them, are sufficient
to warm the human breast with all that is tender and benevolent.
But our creative faculties in their researches are not limited
to this globe. The sight is attracted into boundless ether, to roam
amongst the other revolutionary orbs and spangled situations of the
fixed stars. f In this nature is our prompter, and reason our guide.
Here we are led to believe, without doubt, that such orbs as are
visible to the eye, occupy immensity. And the probability is that
millions, yea, an infinite number of such bodies are peopled by in
habitants not dissimilar to our own. And when we further con
sider the immense distance there is between each of these planets,
stars or suns, and the certainty of the regularity and mutual har
mony that forever subsists between them, although they are per-
*See Esq. Guthrie s and Dr. Morse s Geographies.
tConsidered by modern philosophers and astronomers, as suns.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 53
petually whirling with the most inconceivable veloicty ; what august
and amazing conceptions do we have of that Being who has fabri
cated their existence! Surely then the mind that is not lost to all
sense of rectitude and decorum, must be filled with ideas the most
dignified, with sentiments and passions the most refined, and with
gratitude the most abundant and sincere.
As Miss Sampson had a natural attachment to the study of
creation, it would have been unnatural, and even criminal, to have
been negligent in forming an acquaintance with her own nature
with its important use and end. Everything in nature, as well
as in reason, enjoins this as a duty. The uniformity everywhere
observable in creation, doubtless was influential and subservient
to the regulation of her moral and civil life. This may excite an
idea of novelty with those who do not studiously attend the lec
tures of Nature. But had we no other directory by which we could
regulate our lives and conduct, and were it not possible to deviate
from this, there would be less danger of the confusion so often visi
ble among mankind, of immorality, and of the sword, which is even
now deluging such a part of the world in blood.
From an habitual course of speculations like these, she may
be said to have been reasonably impressed with the following
theoretical conclusions drawn from them: That human nature is
born in imperfection; the great business of which is refinement, and
constant endeavors of approximation to perfection and happiness;
That ignorance and the general train of evils are the natural off
spring of inattention, and that all tend to the degradation of our
nature; And that diligent application is the great requisite for
improvement; which only can dignify and exalt our nature and our
These traits, I venture to affirm, are some of the primeval
exertions of those endowments, which are so peculiarly characteris
tic of our rectitude and worth. They are leading principles of
54 THE FEMALE REVIEW
life. I take the liberty to call them spontaneous; because they are
more or less natural to every one.
Impelled by desires to promote virtue and decorum, as well as
by justice, I here mention one more trait of her juvenility: and I
could wish it might not distinguish her from others at this day.
During this season, it may be said, she was generally a stranger and
showed an aversion to all irregular and untimely diversions. Nor
is she more deserving a panegyric on this account than her super
intendents. She despised revelry, gossipping, detraction and or
gies, not because she was originally any better than others, but
because they were unfashionable in her neighborhood; and es
pecially, because her master and mistress not only disapproved,
but prohibited them. This theory is certainly good, however bad
her practice hereafter may appear. Their practice, rather than
their name should be struck out of time.
Perhaps I make a greater distinction than many do between
what is called the universal ruin of nature, and that occasioned by
wrong education. We call nature corrupt: instead of which, we
may say corporeal substance. The immortal part of man is pure;
and it is the pride of genuine nature to keep it so. It is embarrassed
many times by a vicious body: but it will remain uncontaminated,
though the body tumbles into dissolution.
Custom bears great sway; even the palate may be made to
relish any diet by custom. But this argues not that anything
can be received by the stomach without danger. We are the pilots
of our children; and on us they depend for safety. They learn by
imitation, as well as by precept. And I have either read, heard or
thought (no matter which) that children will always be gazing on
the signs their parents have lettered. We wish for reformation in
youth; but let age be careful to lay the foundation stone.
It is not presumed that Miss Sampson was at this age, with
out particular blemishes and foibles. Like others destitute of prin-
THE FEMALE REVIEW 55
cipal advantages of education, she was doubtless culpable for the
misimprovement of much time and many talents. Whilst her super
intendents may corroborate this, they are ready to do her the jus
tice of saying, that she was a lover of order in their family punc
tual in the fulfilment of her duty to them, and assiduous to heighten
their regard for her. And that her obligations of this nature did
not terminate here, many of her cotemporaries, I dare say, can
testify. Studious to increase a reciprocity of affection with her
relations and surrounding companions, she was successful. To
behave with temperance to strangers, is what she deemed a step
of prudence: But to show an indifference, or actually to disoblige
a friend or companion, could only be repaid by redoubled attention
to restore them to her favor, and by acknowledged gratitude for
On the whole, we must look upon her endowments, in general,
during her juvenility, as the statuary may look upon his marble
in the quarry; or as any one may look upon a rich piece of painting
or sculpture, which combines uniformity with profusion; yet where
the hand of the artist has not discovered every latent beauty, nor
added a finishing polish to those that are apparent.
Analysis of Miss Sampson s thoughts on the rise and progress of the American War, with
a concise account of the Lexington and Breed s Hill engagements including a re
THE motives that led to hostilities between North America
and Great Britain, and the period that terminated our re
lation to and dependence on that nation are events the most
singular and important we have ever known: singular, because
in their very nature, they were unnatural; important, because on
them depended the future welfare and lustre of America.
56 THE FEMALE REVIEW
The operations of these affairs, both before and after the first
engagement at Lexington, are well known to have affected the
minds, even of both sexes, throughout the Colonies, with sensations
and emotions different from whatever they had before experienced.
Our progenitors had suffered almost every hardship in their first
settlement of this country, and much bloodshed by the Aborigines.
But these are events that naturally attend the population of new
countries; and consequently, naturally anticipated. But when
our property, which our ancestors had honestly acquired, was in
vaded; when our inherent rights were either prohibited or infring
ed, an alarm was universally given; and our minds were effectually
awakened to the keenest sense of the injuries, and naturally re
mained in distress, till we became exempt from their jurisdiction.
Perhaps the public may not be surprised that events, so in
teresting and important, should arrest the attention of any one.
But when either of the sexes reverses its common sphere of action,
our curiosity is excited to know the cause and event. The field
of war is a department peculiarly assigned to the hero. It may
therefore appear somewhat curious, if not interesting to many,
when they are informed that this uncommonly arrested the atten
tion of a Young Female of low birth and station. Miss Sampson
is the one who not only listened to the least information relative
to the rise and progress of the late American War; but her thoughts
were, at times, engrossed with it. I will analyze them, as I find
them sketched in her credentials, or as I learn them from credible
Before the blockade of Boston, March 5th, 1775, by the British,
the Colonies had been thrown into great confusion and distress
by repeated acts of oppression by the British, that produced riots
which, in Boston, were carried to the greatest extremities. It was
not till this time that Miss Sampson obtained information of the
arrival of the King s troops, and of the spirited opposition main
tained by the Americans. She justly learned that it was the Acts
THE FEMALE REVIEW 57
of the British Parliament to raise a revenue,* without her consent,
that gave rise to these cruel and unjust measures. 15 Had she possess
ed information and experience on the subject, like many others,
she would doubtless, like them, have seen the impropriety that
England should have an unlimited controul over us, who are sep
arated from her by the vast Atlantic, at least, three thousand
But so it was. From the first established settlement in North
America, to the Declaration of our Independence, we acknowledged
the sovereignty of the British Government and thus continued
tributary to her laws. And as though it had not been enough that
she had driven many of our ancestors from their native clime, by
the intolerant and unrelenting spirit of her religious persecution,
to seek a new world, and to suffer the distress naturally consequent
they insisted still, that our property, our conduct and even our
lives must be under their absolute controul. Thus, we remained
subject to the caprice of one, the influential chicanery of a second,
and the arbitrary decision of the majority. And it is not my pre
rogative to say we should not have remained loyal subjects of the
Crown, to this day, had not our affections been alienated by the
administration of laws, in their nature unjust, and calculated to
injure none but those the least deserving of injury.
Perhaps there is no period in our lives in which the principles
of humanity and benevolence can better take root, than in that
of the juvenile age. And it has been a rare instance, that the sit
uation of any nation has been so effectually calculated to bring
these to the act of experiment, as ours was at the juncture of our
revolution. The distressed situation of the inhabitants of Mass
achusetts, and particularly of those in the metropclis, after the
15 There was no "blockade of Boston, March 5, 1775," aside from the closing of the port,
under the "Boston Port Bill," which went into effect June 1, 1774. Several British regiments
were stationed in Boston from the middle of June, 1774. "Without her consent!" Without
58 THE FEMALE REVIEW
passing of the Port Bill, can never be remembered without starting
the tear of humanity, and exciting the indignation of the world.
Miss Sampson, though not an eye witness of this distress, was
not insensible of it. She learned that the inhabitants of Boston
were confined by an unprovoked enemy; that they were not only
upon the point of perishing for want of sustenance, but that many
had been actually massacred, their public and private buildings
of elegance shamefully defaced, or quite demolished; and that
many of her own sex were either ravished, or deluded to the sacri
fice of their chastity, which she had been taught to revere even as
dear as life itself.
These thoughts filled her mind with sensations to which she
had hitherto been unaccustomed with a kind of enthusiasm which
strengthened and increased with the progression of the war; and
which, peradventure, fixed her mind in a situation from which she
afterwards found it impossible to be extricated, until the accom
plishment of the object after which it aspired.
During her residence in Mr. Thomas s family, they granted
her many domestic privileges; such as the use of a number of
fowls, sheep, &c., upon condition, that she would appropriate the
profit from them to the attainment of objects useful and ornamen
tal. This was an effectual method to inure her to method and a
proper use of money. She applied herself to the business with
diligence and success. And at this time she had accumulated a
small stock, which was appropriated, agreeably to her notion, per
fectly coincident to the injunction. The poor people of Boston
were reduced to the piteous necessity of asking charity, or contri
bution from the country inhabitants. This was no sooner known
to her than she experienced an anxiety, that could brook no con-
troul, until she had an opportunity of casting in her mite: Upon
which she sincerely congratulated herself, not upon the principle
that any one owed her any more gratitude ; but upon the conscious
ness of having endeavoured to relieve the innocent and distressed.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 59
Though I am as much disinclined to have faith in common
dreams as in any invented fable, or to spend time in reciting their
ominous interpretations, yet as they proceed from that immortal
part of man, which no one ought to slight, they may sometimes be
of use. I cannot help noticing in this place, a phenomenon pre
sented to the mind of Miss Sampson during her nocturnal repose,
April 15, 1775, in the fifteenth year of her age, and but four days
before the battle at Lexington. I insert the principal part of it
in her own language, and some of the latter part, verbatim. 16
"As I slept, I thought, as the Sun was declining beneath our
hemisphere, an unusual softness and sereneness of weather invited
me abroad to perambulate the Works of Nature. I gladly em
braced the opportunity; and with eager steps and pensive mind
quickly found myself environed in the adjacent fields, which were
decorated with the greatest profusion of delights. The gentle
ascending ground on one side, upon which were grazing numer
ous kinds of herds; the pleasant and fertile valley and meadow,
through w r hich meandered small rivulets on the other; the aspiring
and venerable grove, either before or behind me; the zephyrs,
which were gently fanning the boughs, and the sweet caroling of
the birds in the branches; the husbandmen, intent upon their
honorable and most useful employment, agriculture; the earth,
then cloathed with vegetation, which already filled the air with
ravishing odours; all conspired to fill my mind with sensations
hitherto unknown, and to direct it to a realization of the Author
of their being whose power, wisdom and goodness are, as they
manifest, as infinite as they are perpetual.
Studious in contemplating the objects that surrounded me, I
16 In the MS. memoir of Deborah Sampson, she is represented as having had this dream
on three successive nights, the last of which immediately preceded the "Lexington Alarm."
Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego. In that memoir, the dream is told with much enlargement,
and in extremely high-flown language. It is there represented as a prophecy of the American
Revolution. Pretty well for a girl of fourteen! It is difficult to believe that this dream ever
had any existence, save in the brain of Herman Mann. It is a pity to spoil with it so much
60 THE FEMALE REVIEW
should have been barbarous, and perhaps have deprived myself of
advantages which I never might again possess, had I abruptly
quitted my ramble. I prolonged it till I found myself advanced
upon a lofty eminence that overlooked a far more extensive and
beautiful prospect, both of the ocean and continent.
Having reached the summit, I sat down to indulge such
thoughts as the scene seemed altogether capable of inspiring.
How much, thought I, is it to be regretted that I am not always
filled with the same sensations, with such sublime ideas of Crea
tion, and of that Being who has caused it to exist! Indeed, I
fancied I could joyfully have spent my life in researches for knowl-
ledge in this delightsome way.
But how great was my astonishment and horror at the rever
sion of the scene! An unusual appearance, different from what
ever my eyes beheld, or imagination suggested, was at once cast
on everything that surrounded me. The sky, which before was
so pleasant and serene, suddenly lowered, and became instan
taneously veiled with blackness. Though not altogether like a
common tempest, incessant lightning and tremendous peals of
thunder seemed to lacerate the very vaults of nature. The am
brosial sweets of vegetation were exchanged for the nauseous
stenches of sulphur and other once condensed bodies, that seemed
to float in ether.
Happening at this instant to cast my eyes upon the liquid
element, new amazement was added to the scene. Its surface,
which before was unruffled, was now properly convulsed, and
seemed piled in mountains to the sky. The ships that before were
either anchored, or riding with tranquillity to their harbors, at
once dismasted, dashing against rocks and one another, or flounder
ing amidst the surges. The industrious farmers, many of whom
were visited by their consorts in their rural occupations, seemed
dispersed, and flying for refuge to the nearest place of safety.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 61
And the birds and bestial tribes seemed at a loss where to go being,
in as great confusion as the elements.
Filled with astonishment at this distraction of the elements,
without any fixed precaution what method to take for safety; on
the one side the earth, a volcano which shook with the perpetual
roar of thunder, and on the other side the liquid element foaming
to the clouds my reason seemed entirely to forsake me, on be
holding the most hideous serpent roll itself from the ocean. He
advanced, and seemed to threaten carnage and destruction wher
ever he went. At length he approached me, with a velocity which
I expected would instantly have cost me my life. I happened to
be directed homeward; but looking back and perceiving the streets,
through which he passed, drenched in blood, I fell into a swoon.
In this condition, I know not how long I remained. At length I
found myself (as I really was) in my own apartment; where I
hoped not to be again shocked with the terrific and impending de
struction of the elements or monster.
But to my repeated grief and amazement, I beheld the door
of the apartment open of itself; and the serpent, in a more fright
ful form and venomous in looks, reappeared. He was of immense
bigness; his mouth opened wide, and teeth of great length. His
tongue appeared to have a sharp sting in the end. He entered the
room, but it was not of sufficient dimensions for his length. As he
advanced towards my bedside, his head raised, as nearly as I con
jectured, about five or six feet, his eyes resembled balls of fire. I
was frightened beyond description. I thought I covered my head
and tried to call for assistance, but could make no noise.
At length, I heard a voice saying, "Arise, stand on your feet,
gird yourself and prepare to encounter your enemy." This seemed
impossible, as I had no weapon of defence. I rose up, stood upon
the bed; but before I had time to dress the serpent approached,
and seemed resolved to swallow me whole. I thought I called on
62 THE FEMALE REVIEW
God for assistance in these distressing moments: And at that in
stant, I beheld, at my feet a bludgeon, which I readily took into
my hand, and immediately had a severe combat with the enemy.
He retreated towards the door from whence he first entered. I
pursued him closely and perceived, as he lowered his head, he at
tempted to strike me with his tail. His tail resembled that of a
fish, more than that of a serpent. It was divided into several
parts, and on each branch there were capital letters of yellow gilt.
I pursued him after he left the apartment, several rods, striking
him every opportunity; till at length I dislocated every joint, which
fell in pieces to the ground: But the pieces reunited, though not
in the form of a serpent, but in that of an Ox. He came at me a
second time, roaring and trying to gore me with his horns. But
I renewed the attack with such resolution, and beat him in such
a manner, that he fell again in pieces to the ground. I ran to
gather them; but on survey found them nothing but a jelly.
And I immediately awoke."
This very singular Dream had an uncommon effect on her
mind, and seemed to presage some great event. The novelty and
momentous ideas it inspired, induced her to record it; but she kept
it secreted from others. At that time she attempted no particular
interpretation of it.
Although the nature and limits of these Memoirs will not ad
mit of a connected sketch of the American War, yet, as the mo
tives that led to open hostilities, and the actions in which the first
blood was shed, so peculiarly occupied the mind of a young Fe
male, I cannot help following the example : especially as these were
the opening of the great Drama, so singular in its nature and im
portant in its consequences, and in which she afterwards became
so distinguished an Actress. 17 These, added to a prompt regard
and honor to the memory of those Heroes who fell the first sacri-
17 The long account which follows of the opening events of the American Revolution is
omitted in the MS. memoir, as wholly irrelevant. It was evidently inserted here merely to
fill up the space.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 63
fices in the cause of their country, induce me to dwell for a few
minutes on those scenes, the remembrance of which, while they
fire the mind and passions with genuine love of liberty and patriot
ism, must bring up recollections shocking and melancholy to every
The repeated and unjust Acts of Parliament, which they more
strenuously endeavoured to enforce on the Colonies, seemed to
threaten general destruction, unless they would, in One mutual
Union, take every effectual method of resistance. For this pur
pose, a Congress had been formed, whose first business was to re
monstrate and petition for redress. At the same time they had
the precaution to take methods for defence, in case their voice
should not be heard in Parliament. Great encouragement was
given for the manufacture of all kinds of military stores and ap
paratus. The militia w r ere trained to the use of arms.
Whilst things were going on in this manner, a detachment of
troops commanded by Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn \vere sent
from Boston to possess or destroy some stores at Concord, twenty
miles from Boston. At Lexington a few companies were collected
for the purpose of manoeuvring, or to oppose the incursions of the
British. These, as some accounts say, were ordered by the British
commander, with the epithet of damn d rebels, to disperse.
Whether they so readily complied with the injunction as he wished,
or not, he ordered his troops to fire upon them; and eight men were
instantly the victims of death.
After the dispersion of the militia, the troops proceeded to
Concord and destroyed a few stores. But by this time the militia
had collected from the adjacent towns, and seemed unanimously
resolved to avenge, by severe retaliation, the death of their inno
cent brethren. This the troops effectually experienced during
their precipitate march to Boston.
Who but the actors and spectators, being themselves un-
64 THE FEMALE REVIEW
accustomed to scenes of this kind, can best describe the anguish
of mind and emotions of passion excited by it! The loss of the
Americans was small compared to the British. But view them
once tranquil and happy in the midst of social and domestic com
pact. No music more harsh than the note of the shepherd, of
friendship and innocent glee. With the lark each morn was wel
comed, as a prelude to new joy and satisfaction. Now beholdf the
reverse of the scene! As if nature had been convulsed, and with
just indignation had frowned on some unpardonable offence, their
peace, and every social and private endearment was at once broken
up. But she stands acquitted; whilst the pride of man could be
satiated only with the dear price of the scourge the havoc of war.
On that fatal day when their fields and streets, which had so often
re-echoed with rural felicity, suddenly assumed the aspect of the
regular battalia, resounding with nothing but the din of war and
the agonies of expiring relatives and friends, the Earth seemed to
precipitate her diurnal revolution, and to leave the Sun in fright
ful aspect. The shepherd s flocks stood aghast. Birds forgot
to carol, and hastened away with astonished muteness. And
think while the tender female breast turned from the scene in
distraction, how it must have humanized the most savage temper,
and have melted it into sympathy, even towards a relentless en
The news of this battle spread with the rapidity of a meteor.
All America was roused and many companies of militia from re
mote parts marched day and night, almost without intermission,
to the relief of their friends in Massachusetts. Thus in a short
time the environs of Boston exhibited, to the view of the enemy,
the formidable appearance of 20,000 men.
This event had the same effect on the mind of Miss Sampson
as it had on those of every one, that was awake to the introduction
of objects so interesting and important, and whose feelings were
ready to commiserate the sufferings of any of the human race.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 65
On June the 5th, the same year, Congress unanimously appoint
ed George Washington, Esq., to the chief command of the Ameri
can Army. He is a native of Virginia and though he is a human
being, his abilities and improvements can never be called in ques
tion. He had acquired great reputation in the execution of a Colo
nel s commission in the French war. He accepted this appoint
ment with a diffidence which, while it best interpreted his wis
dom, evinced the fidelity of his heart and his patriotic zeal for the
fulfilment of the important trust reposed in him.* Of this illus
trious personage I may have further occasion to speak in the
progress of these Memoirs.
Lexington battle was soon succeeded by that of Breed s Hill
in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a mile and a half from Boston.
The 16th of this month, a detachment of Provincials under the
command of Col. Prescott was ordered to intrench on Bunker s
Hill the ensuing night. By some mistake, Breed s Hill was marked
out for the intrenchment, instead of Bunker s, it being high and
large like it, and on the furthermost part of the peninsula next to
Boston. They were prevented going to work till midnight. They
then pursued their business with alacrity and so profound was their
silence, that they w^ere not heard by the British on board their
vessels lying in the harbour. At daybreak they had thrown up a
small redoubt; which was no sooner noticed by the Lively, a man
of war, than her cannon gave them a very heavy salute.
The firing immediately rouzed the British camp in Boston,
and their fleet to behold a novelty they had little expected. This
diverted their attention from a scheme they meant to have prose
cuted the next day ; which was now called to drive the Americans
from the hill.
Notwithstanding an incessant cannonade from the enemy s
ships, floating batteries and a fort upon Copp s hill in Boston, op-
*He arrived at Head Quarters in Cambridge on the 2d of July following.
66 THE FEMALE REVIEW
posite the American redoubt, they continued laborious till noon,
with the loss of only one man. By some surprising oversight, one
detachment had labored incessantly four hours, with being relieved,
or supplied with any refreshment.
By this time the Americans had thrown up a small breast
work, extending from the east side of their redoubt towards the
bottom of the hill; but were prevented completing it by the in
tolerable fire of the enemy.
Just after twelve o clock, the day fair and excessively hot, a
great number of boats and barges w r ere filled with regular troops
and apparatus, who sail to Charlestown. The Generals Howe and
Pigot take the command. After they were landed they form, and
remain in that position till they are joined by another detachment,
consisting of infantry, grenadiers and marines; which make in all
During these operations, the Generals Warren and Pomeroy
join the American force. General Putnam continues ambitious
in giving aid as occasion requires. 18 They are ordered to take up
a post and rail-fence, and to set it not quite contiguous to another,
and to fill the vacancy with some newly mown grass, as a slight
defence to the musketry of the enemy. They are impatiently
waiting the attack.
In Boston, the Generals Clinton and Burgoyne had taken their
stand on Copp s Hill to contemplate the bloody operations now corn-
is General Joseph Warren was on the field that day, but with no asserted authority.
On entering the redoubt thrown up by the troops, Colonel Prescott offered him the command;
but Warren replied that he had not received his commission, and should serve as a volunteer.
He had been chosen major-general by the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts only three
days before. He gave no order during the action, though his presence and example were of
great service. He took a musket, and mingled in the thickest of the fight. [Frothingham s
Siege of Boston ; Coring s Hundred Boston Orators.]
General Seth Pomeroy, a veteran who had behaved with great gallantry at Louisburg,
also served as a volunteer on Bunker Hill, and fought in the ranks with a musket in hand. He
was at the rail-fence. General Israel Putnam was also at the rail-fence, in command of the
Connecticut troops, and rendered important service. [Frothingham s Siege of Boston.]
THE FEMALE REVIEW 67
mencing. General Gage had previously determined, when any
works should be raised in Charlestown by the Americans, to
burn the town : and whilst his troops were advancing nearer to the
American lines, orders came to Copp s Hill for the execution of the
resolution. Accordingly a carcass was discharged, which sat fire
to the hither part of the town; which being fired in other parts
by men for that purpose, was in a few minutes in a general flame.
What scenes are now before us! There a handsome town,
containing 300 houses, and about 200 other buildings, wrapt in one
general conflagration ; w r hose curling fl ames and sable smoke, tower
ing to the clouds, seem to bespeak heavy vengeance and destruc
tion! In Boston, see the houses, piazzas and other heights crowd
ed with the anxious inhabitants, and those of the British soldiery,
who are not called upon duty! Yonder the adjacent hills and
fields are lined with Americans of both sexes, and of all ages and
orders. Now turn to the American lines and intrenchments. Be
hold them facing the most formidable enemy, who are advancing
towards them with solemn and majestic dignity! In a few mo
ments, must be exhibited the most horrid and affecting scene that
mankind are capable of producing!
Although the Americans are ill supplied with stores, and many
of theirmuskets without bayonets, yet they are generally good marks
men, being accustomed to hunting. The British move on slowly,
instead of a quick step. The provincials are ordered to reserve
their fire till the troops advance within ten or twelve rods; when
they begin a tremendous discharge of musketry, which is returned
by the enemy, for a few minutes, without advancing a yard. But
the stream of American fire is so incessant and does such astonish
ing execution, that the regulars break and fall back in confusion.
They are again with difficulty rallied; but march with apparent
reluctance to the intrenchments. The Americans at the redoubt,
68 THE FEMALE REVIEW
and those who are attacked by the British infantry in their lines
leading from it to the water, are ordered, as usual, to reserve their
fire. The fence proves a poor shelter: and many are much more
exposed than necessity obliges; so that the British cannot, in
future, stigmatize them with the name of cowards, who will fly at
the sight of a grenadier s cap, nor for fighting in an unfair manner.
They wait till the enemy is within six rods; when the earth again
trembles with their fire. The enemy are mown down in ranks and
again are repulsed. General Clinton observes this, and passes over
from Boston without waiting for orders. The British officers are
heard to say, "It is downright butchery to lead the troops on
afresh to the lines." But their honor is at stake, and the attack is
again attempted. The officers are seen to use the most violent ges
tures with their swords to rally their troops : and though there is an
almost insuperable aversion in them to renew the attack, the officers
are once more successful. The Americans are in want of ammuni
tion, but cannot procure any. Whilst they are ordered to retreat
within the fort, the enemy make a decisive push : the officers goad
on the soldiers with their swords redouble their fire on all sides;
and the redoubt is attacked on three sides at once. The Americans
are unavoidably ordered to retreat, but they delay, and fight with
the butt end of their guns, till the redoubt is two-thirds filled with
regular troops. In their retreat, which led over a neck leading from
Cambridge to Charlestown, they were again in the greatest jeopardy
of being cut off by the Glasgow man of war, floating batteries, &c.
But they effected it without much loss, and with greater regularity
than could be expected from men who had never before seen an
engagement. General Warren, being in the rear, was shot in the
back part of his head; and having clapped his hand to the wound,
dropped down dead.
The number of Americans engaged, including those who dared
to cross the Neck and join them, was only 1,500. Their loss was
small compared with the British. The killed, wounded and miss-
THE FEMALE REVIEW 69
ing were 453; of which, 139 were slain. Of the British, the killed
and wounded were 1,054; of which, 226 were killed. 19
It has been said by a veteran officer, who was at the battles of
Dettingen, Minden, and several others, in Germany, that for the
time it lasted he never knew anything equal it. The British dis
played great heroic bravery, and there was a perpetual sheet of
fire from the Americans for half an hour; and the action was intense
ly hot for double that time.
Among the slain of the British, they particularly lament the
deaths of Lieut. Col. Abercromby and Major Pitcairn, who occasion
ed the first shedding of blood at Lexington. Among the Ameri
cans, we lament, in particular, the fall of General Warren, the
Colonels Gardner, Parker, Chelmsford, &c. 20 But the fall of Gen
eral Warren is the most effectually felt. By his fall the public
sustain the loss of the warm patriot and politician, the eminent
orator and physician; with which were blended the other endear
ing and ornamental accomplishments. And though an amiable
consort and a number of small children had rendered his existence
more desirable, he distinguished himself this day, by fighting as a
volunteer; and fell an illustrious example in the cause of liberty
and the rights of man.
About this time the country inhabitants, near Boston, were
frequently alarmed by idle and ignorant reports that the British
19 The British force in the battle was stated by General Gage, in his official account, as
something over 2,000. It would seem, therefore, that half their number were killed or wounded.
Stedman, Bissett, and LordMahon, British historians, say the British force was 2,000; Marshall,
Ramsay, and Barry, Americans, and Thacher, in his "Military Journal," say 3,000. Contem
porary MSS., and the Journal of the Provincial Congress, say, between 3,000 and 4,000. The
American force was about 1,500.
20 General Warren was killed just as the Americans were leaving the well-contested field.
It was with the greatest reluctance that he left the redoubt. He was retreating slowly, which
brought him next to the British. Colonel Thomas Gardner of Cambridge, and Lieutenant-
colonel Moses Parker, were mortally wounded. Gardner died, July 3; Parker died, a prisoner,
July 4. Major Willard Moore, who that day led Doolittle s regiment, was also mortally wound
ed. There was no officer of the name of Chelmsford in the battle (See Frothingham s Siege
70 THE FEMALE REVIEW
troops had broken through the American lines, were penetrating,
with the greatest rapidity into the country, ravaging, plundering
and butchering all before them. And more than once was Miss
Sampson persuaded to join her female circle, who were as ignorant
of what passed in the armies as herself, to seek security in the dreary
desert or deserted cottage. But she peculiarly noted the day of
Breed s Hill engagement, as did many others, by the incessant roar
of the cannon. A fertile eminence, near which she lived, is a stand
ing monument of the pensive thoughts and reflections she experi
enced during the melancholy day. 21 She has said that for some
days after the battle, having had an account of it, sleep was a stran
ger to her. It seems, her attention was of a different nature from
that of many of her sex and youth. Whilst they were only dread
ing the consequences, she was exploring the cause of the eruption.
This, as she had heard, or naturally apprehended would terminate,
at least, in New England s wretchedness or glory.
It is indeed too much to sport with the lives of any animals.
But when a large number of men, many of whom perhaps are invol
untarily led into the field, and many more, without knowing or car
ing for what reason, march within a few paces of each other, that
their lives may be made a fairer mark for the sport of the avarice,
pride and ambition of a few licenced incendiaries nature must re
coil, or the whole system of intellects forget there is a higher dignity
She had frequent opportunity of viewing the American sol
diers, as they marched from one part to another. One day, having
gone some distance to see a number of regiments, her curiosity was
arrested by an officer, who boasted much of his courage and heroic
achievements. A young female domestic being near him, he thus
21 The meaning is, she heard the cannon, on the day of the battle, from a hill near her
residence. The distance is at least thirty miles. Besides the firing from the British ships and
floating batteries, and from Copp s Hill, a furious cannonade was kept up on the American lines
in Roxbury, to divert the attention of the right wing of the American army, and to prevent
reinforcements being sent to the troops on Bunker Hill.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 71
addressed her: "You Slut, why are you not better dressed when
you come to see so many officers and soldiers!" Miss Sampson
seeing her confused, thus replied to the arrogant coxcomb:
"Elegance in dress, indeed, Sir, becomes the fair, as well as your sex.
But how must that soldier feel who values himself so highly for
his courage, his great exploits, &c. (perhaps where there is no dan
ger), should they forsake him in the field of battle!"
Hostilities having commenced throughout the Colonies, a new
and effectual school was opened for the hero, politician and states
man; and which was a stimulation, even to the philosophic moralist.
The consequence of which was the declaration of our Independence,
July 4, 1776. This momentous event took place two hundred
and eighty-four years after the discovery of America by Columbus
one hundred and seventy, since the first established settlement
in Virginia and a hundred and fifty-six since the settlement of
Plymouth in Massachusetts; which were the first permanent settle
ments in North America. And whilst this Era will forever be held
a Jubilee by every votary of American Freedom, it must bring to
our minds two very affecting periods: First, the time when we,
with the most heart-felt satisfaction, acknowledged the sovereignty
of our parent country: And secondly, when we were distressed, and
like her dutiful offspring asked her lenity and compassion but
could not share, even in her parental affection!
But out of great tribulation, it is believed, anguish has not
been the greatest result. Those necessitous events were doubt
less conducive to the raising our Empire to that rare height of per
fection in the moral, as well as in the political wx>rld, in which it
now so conspicuously shines.
72 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Miss Sampson continues in Mr. Thomas s family after she is of age, without meeting any
incidents more uncommon, than her increasing propensities for learning and the
mode of interesting herself in the Cause of her Country. Engages in a public school
part of two years successively. An outcry of religion hi her neighborhood. Her
thoughts upon it. Summary of what she deemed the truest religion.
WE are now to view the state of Miss Sampson s mind com
parable to him who has planned some great achievement,
which he believes, will be of the greatest utility and impor
tance to him; but who finds his opportunities, rather than abilities,
inadequate to its completion. I know not that she ever was de
serving the name of fickleness in her pursuits; yet, I have the strong
est reason to conclude that her mind, during her juvenility, was so
crowded with inventive ideas for improvements as to throw it into
uncommon anxiety. And notwithstanding her invention proposed
many schemes, yet, as they tended to the same comparative object,
they ought rather to be applauded than aspersed. Neither would
I think it gratifying to any to account for this upon any other
score. To assign no other motive for these intellectual exertions
than the attainment of gewgaws, superfluity in dress and the night
consumption, would not only be doing injustice to her but men
tioning a train of evils, which it must be confessed characterize too
great a part of our youth at this day; and which every legislator
should discourage, and every parent prohibit.
Before this time, Congress had taken effectual methods to en
courage the manufacture of our own apparel, and every other con
sumption in America. And the reflection is pleasing, that Mr.
Thomas s family was not the only one who had not the reformation
to begin. As though they had always been apprehensive of the
utility and honor they should gain by it, they had always practised
it; and the voice of Congress was only a stimulation, so that Miss
Sampson s employments were not much altered. And she has,
somewhere, suggested that had we continued this most laudable
THE FEMALE REVIEW 73
and ever-recommendable employment, in the same degree, to this
day, we should not only have increased commerce with many
foreign nations, but, have retained immense sums of money, which
are now piled shining monuments of the opulence of other nations,
and of our own vanity and inattention. In this opinion, I am con
fident, every well-wisher to his country is still ready to concur.*
Necessity, our dreadful, but useful friend, having taught us
the advantages of our own manufactures for the support and con
veniences of life, continued still favorable to our intellectual powers,
and prompted them to the study of arts and sciences. The pro
priety of this is ratified by our Independence. Nor was Miss
Sampson the only one who realized it, but she has often said, she
hoped every one who had, or may have, the same propensities for
it, may have freer access to it. Her situation of mind was very
applicable to the maxim "Learning has no enemy but ignorance."
She was not now of age; but she resolved, when that period should
arrive, to devise some more effectual method to attain it.
It is natural for fear to subside, when danger flees out at the
door. This doubtless was the case with many good people in Mass
achusetts, after the seat of w r ar was removed to distant parts; when
they \vere not so suddenly alarmed by its havoc. To whatever
degree this may have been the case with Miss Sampson, it appears
that its first impressions, instead of being obliterated by time, were
more strongly impressed on her mind. In fact, it seems she only
needed a different formation to have demonstrated in actions what
she was obliged to conceal through restraint of nature and custom.
Just before she was eighteen, 1779, she was employed, much
*Miss Sampson has just shown me pieces of lawn and muslin which were manufactur
ed with her own hands, soon after the commencement of the war. I consider them as
nothing more than specimens of Columbian abilities, genius and taste. It is wounding
to me to hear "We can buy cheaper than we can make." No doubt And so long as we
encourage foreign manufacture by sending them our specie, there is no doubt, but they
can sell cheaper than we can make. And even when they have entirely drained us of our
money, there will be one cheerful certainty left they will laugh at our credulity.
74 THE FEMALE REVIEW
to her liking, six months in the warm season, in teaching a public
school in Middleborough. 22 In this business, experience more
effectually convinced her, that her education, rather than her en
dowments, was inadequate to the task. But her success more than
equalled her expectations, both with regard to the proficiency of
her pupils, and the approbation of her employers.
The next season her engagement was renewed for the same
term in the same school. She now found her talk easier, and her
success greater, having had the advantage of a good man-school
the preceding winter. The employment was very agreeable to her;
especially as it was a source of much improvement to herself.
Not far from this time, there began to be an uncommon agita
tion among many people in her neighborhood; as had been, or soon
followed, in many towns in New England. This penetrating dis
order was not confined to old age. It violently seized on themiddle-
aged, and as she remarked, even children caught the contagion.
There are but few mischiefs that war is not capable of effecting. 23
22 This school was taught in the warm season of 1779, when Deborah had completed her
eighteenth year. Until the age of eighteen, she was bound to the service of Mr. Thomas.
Her term of service was now expired, and she was at liberty. The school taught by her was at
the village of Middleborough Four Corners, two miles from the house of Deacon Thomas.
The house in which she taught stood on the spot where Major Tucker now resides; the building
having subsequently been removed to Water Street, and occupied as a dwelling-house. At
this time, she boarded in the house of Abner Bourne, which now stands opposite to Peirce
Academy. [Rev. Stillman Pratt.]
The range of study in her school was not extensive; and it may be taken as a specimen of
the summer schools generally in New England at this time. The books used were "The New
England Primer," here and there a Spelling Book, "The Psalter," and a few Testaments. A
sheet of paper was sometimes allowed to the boys for the exercise of penmanship, while the
chief occupation of the girls was to learn to knit and sew! One forward lad brought to school
a dilapidated copy of Fisher s "Young Man s Best Companion." A few books which Deborah
brought to the school for her own improvement completed the catalogue. Such is the account
she gives in the MS. memoir, where it is implied, though not expressly stated, that "The As
sembly s Catechism" was taught in this, as in other schools, every Saturday. When the editor
taught school, forty years ago, this was the practice in Massachusetts.
23 It is to be hoped that very few readers of this volume will sympathize with the ir
religious spirit exhibited in these remarks, and in those which follow. They are very properly
THE FEMALE REVIEW 75
But some well-minded people were ready to term this the
working of the Spirit, of the Holy Ghost a reformation in religion.
Whether it originated from the unusual and influential exertions
of the clergy, who took advantage of this unparalleled crisis to
add to their number of converts in the Christian religion; or whether
it was a voluntary act of the mind, or a natural cachexy, or whether
it is a characteristic trait of the Divine Character I have not
time here to conjecture.
She was in the midst of it, and was excited to observe its opera
tions. But she had the wise precaution to study well its purport,
omitted in the MS. memoir. The facts of the case, derived from authentic sources, were the
During the ensuing autumn and winter, there was in Middleborough, and in several other
towns, an unusual interest felt in the great concerns of religion. Notwithstanding the heavy
pressure of the war, many of the people were led to feel that there are higher interests than
those which pertain merely to the present life. Nothing, surely, could be more rational, nothing
more capable of a satisfactory vindication. A revival of religion is the greatest blessing which
can be bestowed upon any people. It is a mark of stupendous madness when immortal beings,
ruined by sin, and hastening to the judgment, can remain, year after year, wholly indifferent
and thoughtless. They are the fanatics who neglect the great salvation!
Many, both old and young, in Middleborough, at this time, were making the earnest in
quiry, "What shall I do to be saved?" Among the number thus tenderly and solemnly affected
was Deborah Sampson, the subject of our story, then nineteen years of age. At length she
entertained the hope that she had experienced renewing grace and that her sins were forgiven.
Ever since coming to live in Middleborough, at the age of eight years, she had attended public
worship with the First Congregational Church in that town, whose meeting-house was at the
"Upper Green," so called. This church, at the time indicated in the text, had no settled pastor.*
The Rev. Abraham Camp, who was then preaching there, is said to have entertained a high
opinion of Deborah s talents and character, and to have regretted her departure from the con
gregation; for, as the revival extended into other sections of the town, it was greatly promoted
by the labors of Rev. Asa Hunt,t a Baptist minister in the south part of Middleborough, at a
locality known as "The Rock," on the borders of Rochester. Deborah was induced to attend
on his preaching, and not long after joined herself in covenant with his church. The Records
of the First Baptist Church in Middleborough show that she was received by them as a member,
November 12, 1780. She continued in that relation less than two years. It appears that she
renounced her covenant with the Church, and learned to speak lightly of experimental religion.
"The First Church In Middleborough was organized December 26, 1694, although materials for a
church had long existed. Rev. Sam l Fuller, their first minister, (son of the excellent Dr. Samuel Fuller
of the Mayflower*,, had preached in the town from 1679, and probably from the incorporation of the town
in 1669. After the death of the Rev. Sylvanus Conant, in 1777, there was no settled minister there till
1781. Mr. Abraham Camp, a graduate of Yale College in 1773, was preaching to this church at the
time mentioned in the text. The people were greatly interested in his preaching, and gave him a
unanimous call to be their pastor, in February, 1779, and again called him, by a vote of twenty-two to
five, in November, 1780. He concluded not to settle in Middleborough.
tMr. Hunt was from Braintree, and was ordained at Middleborough, October 30, 1771; d. Septem
ber 2, 1791.
76 THE FEMALE REVIEW
rather than to suffer the fugitive to take her by surprise. But
let its tendency have been what it might, it answered a good pur
pose for her. It served to rouze her attention, and to bring about
these important enquiries: From whence came man? What is
his business? And for what is he designed? She considered her
self as having been too inattentive to religion, which, as she had
been taught and naturally conceived, is the most indispensable duty
enjoined on man, both with regard to his well-being here, and to
the eternal welfare of his immortal part.
But from her best conclusive arguments drawn from a con
test of this nature, she saw no propriety in it. Reason being per
verted or obstructed in its course, the whole system of intellects is
thrown into a delirium. This being the case, as she conceived,
in this outcry of religion, its subjects were of course, not only dis
qualified for useful business, which was certainly wanted at that
time, if ever, but rendered totally incapacitated for the adoration
and worship of Deity, in a manner becoming his dignity, or the
dictates of sound reason.
At this age, she had not professionally united herself to any
religious denomination; 24 as was the practice of many of her cotem-
poraries. She considered herself in a state of probation, and a free
agent; and consequently at liberty to select her own religion. In
this she was in a measure mistaken. Had her mind been free from
the manacles of custom and unswayed by education, she might
have boasted of an advantage superior to all others, and might per-
ad venture, have entertained the world with a set of opinions dif
ferent from all other sects and nations. But these were her com
batants. As she advanced on the stage of life to establish a re
ligion, her prospect was that of the Christian world and her assent
to it was at once urged by her mode of education. Indeed this
was the only religion of which she had any knowledge, except that
which simple nature always teaches.
24 So far is this from being true, that she professed to be a subject of the revival, and united
herself to the Baptist Church, as already stated.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 77
But her researches in Christianity did not occasion so much
surprise to its votaries as they did to herself. On examination, in
stead of finding only one denomination, she must have been enter
tained more probably, alarmed on finding almost an infinite num
ber of sects which had sprung out of it, and in each sectary a dif
ferent opinion all right, infallibly right, in their own estimation.
A great diversity of scenery in the same drama, or tragedy, upon
the stage, perhaps has nothing in it wonderful or criminal. But a
religion, which is believed to be of divine origin, even communicated
directly from God to Man, consequently intended for the equal
good of all, but still subject to controversy differently construed
and differently practised she conceived, has every thing of the
marvellous, if not of an inconsistent nature. Thus, when she would
attach herself to one, the sentiments of a second would prevail, and
those of a third would stagnate her choice: and for a while she was
tempted to reject the whole till thorough examination and the aid
of Him, who cannot err, should determine the best. And I am
not certain there are not many, who have made their profession,
who ought to disapprove her resolution.
To have called in question the validity and authenticity of the
Scriptures would only have been challenging at least one half
America, and a quarter of the rest of the globe to immediate com
bat; for which she had neither abilities nor inclination. She began
to reflect, however, that the being bound to any set religion, by
the force of man, would not only be an infraction of the laws of
Nature, but a striking and effectual blow at the prime root of that
liberty for which our nation was then contending.
I would not leave the public to surmise that she derived no
advantage from Christianity. Though divines utterly disallow
that the plan of the Gospel can be attained by the dim light of
nature, or by the boasted schools of philosophy, yet, we have already
found in these Memoirs, that, as feeble as they are, they lead with
out equivocation to the knowledge and belief of Deity, who every
78 THE FEMALE REVIEW
one acknowledges, is the first and great object of our reverence and
devotion. Christian morality, she acknowledges with more warmth
than I have known in many, who have had greater advantages of
education. Setting aside the doctrines of total depravity, election,
and a few others, which were always inadmissible by her reason,
she is an adherent to its creed. By her dissidence she is willing,
however, that her ignorance should be so far exposed to the public
as to declare, that she knows not whether it is more from the light
of Gospel revelation, or the force of education, that she is led to
the assent of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. 25
This view of her religious sentiments will be concluded by the
following summary of what she now believes to be genuine religion :
and under whatever denomination it may fall, it must always con
tinue without a precedent.
That religion which has a tendency to give us the greatest
and most direct knowledge of Deity, of his attributes and works,
and of our duty to Him, to ourselves and to all the human race, is
the truest and best; and by which only we can have consciences
void of offence.
I take the liberty to close this chapter with a few digressional
Sensible I am, that when we can be made sensible that religion
in its truest sense, ought to be made the ultimate end and object
of our pursuit that it is the greatest requisite for our general felicity
both here and in futurity; or should it be found that, as we dis
regard, or attend to it, our temporal interest will be affected, as it
is by our legislative government I am inclined to believe, not a
mystery, or hidden part in it will long remain unexplored, but es
tablished or rejected, as it may be deemed genuine. Civil govern
ment and religion have, briefly, this difference: Civil govern-
25 The author here delivers his own sentiments rather than those of Deborah Sampson.
He reminds us of the fable of the viper biting the file.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 79
ment serves as a directory necessary for the accumulation and pres
ervation of temporal interest and conveniencies for life: religion
teaches us how to set a proper estimate on them and on all other
enjoyments in life. It expands and elevates the mind to a sense
and knowledge of Deity, and to the dignity of human nature. It
pervades the whole soul, and fills it with light and love. It is a
source from which only, can be derived permanent satisfaction,
and teaches us the true end of our existence. For want of a knowl
edge or realization of this, into how many gross errors and ab
surdities have mankind inadvertently fallen, or inattentively been
led. When impositions of this kind have been multiplied upon
them, when they have been stigmatized by this name or by that,
in matters cf sentiment; seems they have rested comfortably easy,
without enquiring into their truth or justice, or passed them off
with flighty indifference. But touch our interest that bright,
momentary gem! the cheek is immediately flushed, and the whole
heart and head are upon the rack set to invention for redress.
So contracted and interwoven with lucrative, fantastical gain are
the views and pursuits of men.
Remarkable anxiety of Miss Sampson s mind relative to the War, and to gain a knowl
edge of her country. For once she is tempted to swerve from the sphere of her sex,
upon the mere principle of gratifying curiosity and of becoming more effectually
instrumental in the promotion of good. There are but two methods for the accom
plishment of this, in which her inclinations lead her to concur. The first is that of
travelling in the character of a gentleman. The second, that of taking an effective
part in the Cause of her Country, by joining the Army in the character of a volun
tary soldier. The latter, after many severe struggles between prudence, delicacy
and virtue, she resolves to execute.
IT is impossible to conjecture what would have been Miss Samp
son s turn of mind, had she obtained the most refined educa
tion. But it requires no great force of logic to discover her
leading propensities in her present situation. She was formed for
enterprise: and had fortune been propitious, she might have wanted
80 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Among all her avocations and intervening occurrences in her
juvenility, her thirst for knowledge and the prevailing American
contest, appear, by her diurnals, to have held the most distinguish
ed and important sway in her mind; distinguished, because they
were different from the generality of her sex; important, because
on that depended the future welfare and felicity of our country.
Her resolutions on these accounts, and the execution of them will
now employ our attention.
From the maturity of her years, observation and experience,
she could determine with more precision on the nature of the war
and on the consequence of its termination. This may be said to be
her logic: If it should terminate in our subjection again to Eng
land, the abolition of our Independence must follow; by which we
not only mean to be free, but to gain us the possession of Liberty
in its truest sense and greatest magnitude; and thus secure to
ourselves that illustrious name and rank, that adorn the nations of
This, and her propensities for an acquaintance with the ge
ography of her country, were alternately severe in her mind. Her
taste for geography must have been chiefly spontaneous; as the
study of it in books was unfashionable among the female yeomanry.
I am happy to remark here, that this useful and delightsome science
is now become a polite accomplishment for ladies.
It was now a crisis with her not often to be experienced: and
though it was painful to bear, it was doubtless conducive to im
provement. Invention being upon the rack, every wheel in the
machine is put in motion, and some event must follow. It pro
duced many pertinent thoughts on the education of her sex. Very
justly did she consider the female sphere of action, in many re
spects too contracted; in others, wanting limits. In general she
deemed their opportunities, rather than abilities, inadequate for
those departments in science and the belles-lettres, in which they
are so peculiarly calculated to shine, From this, let me infer that,
THE FEMALE REVIEW 81
although custom constitutes the general standard of female educa
tion, yet the best method that occurs to my mind to be used in this
important business, is that dictated by reason and convenience.
But the public must here be surprised in the contemplation
of the machinations and achievements of female heroism and vir
tue: which if not the most unparalleled, are the most singular that
have ever sprung out of Columbia s soil. And it is but reasonable,
that we exercise all that candor and charity, that the nature of the
circumstances will admit. By ideally putting ourselves in similar
circumstances the reasonableness will be fully evinced. Though
independent and free, custom in many respects rules us with des
potic sway; and the person who greatly deviates from it exposes
himself to numberless dangers. An indelible stigma may doom
him to infamy; though perhaps his original design was to effect
some useful and important event. But on the other hand, liberty
gives us such ascendancy over old habit, that unless it bind us to
some apparent and permanent good, its iron bands are subject to
dissolution. We have, in some measure seen Miss Sampson s
motives for achievement; the rest will be illustrated in the sequel.
Having come of age, her former resolution* remained to be
executed. 26 For this purpose she planned many schemes and
fabricated many castles; but on examination found them chimeri
cal, or of precarious foundation. Every recent information of the
geography of the continent served only to stimulate propensities
which she had no desire to stifle. But the news of the war served
but to engross her mind with anxieties and emotions she had long
labored to suppress. And it must here be mentioned to her honor,
that she used arguments for and against herself in every important
proposition drawn for enterprise. Her chief problems for solu
tion may have been these: Must I forever counteract inclination
*See Chap. IV.
26 Her resolution to travel, and to obtain a knowledge of her country, induced her to en
list in the Continental army.
82 THE FEMALE REVIEW
and stay within the compass of the smoke of my own chimney?
never tread on different soils nor form an acquaintance with a
greater circle of the human race? Stifle that spirit of heroic patriot
ism, which no one knows but Him who foreknows all events but
may terminate in the greatest good to myself, and in some degree
promote the cause of my country? Yield the palm of custom to
the force of that philanthropy which should warm the bosoms of
both sexes and all ages? In fact, shall I swerve from my sex s
sphere for the sake of acquiring a little useful acquisition; or shall
I submit (without reluctance, I cannot) to a prison, where I must
drag out the remainder of my existence in ignorance: where the
thoughts of my too cloistered situation must forever harass my
bosom with listless pursuits, tasteless enjoyments and responsive
Contrasting this argumentation with the superior advantages
of many of the human race for acquiring knowledge, she was
ready, for a moment, to find fault with her formation: but happily
it was but momentary. As if she had been instantly cured of a
frenzy, she could scarcely be reconciled with herself for such pre
sumption. It being not only an indignity to her own sex, but the
basest ingratitude to her Maker, and derogatory to his laws. Her
humble solicitations were, that she never might be so lost to all
sense of virtue and decorum, as to act a part unworthy her being,
thereby not only bring infamy on herself, but leave a blemish and
stigma on the female world.
For this purpose, she resolved to think no more of projecting
adventures, of leaving the tranquillity of her domestic retirement
her endearing circle of relations and friends, to visit distant
parts; as the good she anticipated in the result was uncertain, and
might, in a fatal manner, prove fallacious. Her flights of imagina
tion had furnished a clue the most requisite for the maxim, which
every one more or less needs "When fancy rides, let reason hold
the reins." She likewise resolved to suspend all further enquiries
THE FEMALE REVIEW 83
and anxiety about the war. Vain attempts! The prohibitions
proved a source of mortification and discontent. And it seems, a
prevention of these enquiries would have been as much impossible
as it would to have brought the war to a close without negotiation,
or by inaction itself. It seems, she could not hear of its success
without feeling the victory. She had heard of many beautiful
cities, rich soils, healthy climates and different customs with the
inhabitants, and the thought of being prohibited from augmenting
her acquaintance with them, was but anticipating her dissolution
too soon. 27
In this dilemma she continued several months without any
fixed resolution. At length, her propensities for viewing distant
places, &c. gained such a perfect ascendancy over cooler reason,
that her propensities could brook no control. She determined
to burst the bands which, it must be confessed, have too often held
27 While Deborah, as in the text, is pondering her future course, let us consider what she
was at this time.
She was now a few months over twenty years of age; had been deprived of the advantages
resulting from a proper training under the parental roof, and, in great measure, of opportunities
for intellectual improvement. She had good natural capacity; was of a studious, contemplative
turn of mind; an ardent lover of nature; a careful observer of passing events. She was fond
of adventure, and had a great deal of energy. Her temper was bold, enterprising, independent,
fearless; and she was disposed to have her own way, regardless of consequences. The sphere
in which she had hitherto moved she found too quiet and too narrow for her aspiring tempera
ment: she longed for something higher and better, she knew not what. Under proper culture
and discipline, she might have become an ornament to her sex and a blessing to the world. But
she had none to guide, to train, to admonish her, scarcely any to sympathize with her, Con
sequently, her efforts were misdirected, her energies misemployed. To a considerable extent,
she was a day-dreamer, and a builder of castles in the air. She had a strong desire to see the
world, to visit distant regions, to behold society in new lights and under unusual aspects. She
determined that she would, at all events, quit the ignoble employments to which she had been
accustomed in a farmer s family in Middleborough, of feeding pigs and poultry, of plying the
spinning-wheel and the loom.
She resolved, therefore, to put on male attire, and travel; and to this end spun and wove,
with her own hands, cloth, which (she says) she employed a tailor to make up as a suit for a
gentleman, pretending that it was for a young man, a relative of hers, who was about leaving
home for the army. She found these garments became her so well, that even her mother, whom
she visited at Plympton in this costume, did not know her. This is the statement which is made
in the MS. memoir, where it is also stated that she procured and put on these garments several
times, to try them, in the autumn of 1780. It was certainly a year later when this was done.
84 THE FEMALE REVIEW
her sex in awe, and in some mode and measure, stretch beyond the
boundaries of her own neighborhood; by which means she might
be convinced whether what she had read or heard be true "That
one half of the world does not know how the other half lives."
But here fresh scenes of difficulties awaited her; though many had
been before anticipated. Prudence, as usual, appeared in her
plain, but neat attire, and called her resolution in question. Deli
cacy trimmed her dislocated hair; and virtue brought her amaran
thine wreath. The thought of travelling without a companion
or protector, was deemed by prudence a step of presumption. Not
to have travelled at all, might have deprived her of much good, with
increasing anxiety; and there was an avenue to it both ways. But
her greatest obstacle was the want of that current specie, which is
always sure to gain the esteem of all people. Without it, she must
have been liable to have incurred the appellation of an idler, a
bonaroba, or a vagabond, and so have failed in her design, which
was the acquisition of knowledge without the loss of reputation.
Whilst she was deliberating on these matters, she privately
dressed herself in a handsome suit of man s apparel and repaired
to a prognosticates 28 This, she declares, was not to stimulate, but
to divert her inclinations from objects which not only seemed pre
sumptuous, but impracticable. She informed him she had not come
with an intention to put entire confidence in his delusory sugges
tions; but it was partly out of principle, but mostly out of curiosity.
He considered her as a blithe and honest young gentleman. She
heard his preamble. And it was either by art or accident, that he
told her, pretty justly, her feelings that she had propensities for
uncommon enterprises, and pressed to know why she had held
them in suspension so long. Having predicated, that the success
of her adventures, if undertaken, would more than compensate a
few difficulties, she left him with a mind more discomposed than
when she found him. But before she reached home she found her
28 Or fortune-teller. Her interview with him undoubtedly contributed much to strengthen
and confirm her resolution.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 85
resolution strengthened. She resolved soon to commence her
ramble, and in the same clandestine plight, in which she had been
to the necromancer. She thought of bending her first course to
Philadelphia, the metropolis of America.
In March, 1781, the season being too rough to commence her
excursion, she proposed to equip herself at leisure, and then appoint
the time for her departure. A handsome piece of cloth was to be
put to a use of which she little thought, during the time she was
employed in manufacturing it. Ye sprightly Fair, what is there
in your domestic department that necessity, ingenuity and resolu
tion cannot accomplish? She made her a genteel coat, waistcoat
and breeches without any other assistance, than the uncouth pat
terns belonging to her former master s family. The other articles,
hat, shoes, &c. were purchased under invented pretexts. 29
Before she had accomplished her apparatus, her mind being
intent, as the reader inust imagine, on the use to which they were
soon to be appropriated, an idea no less singular and surprising
than true and important, determined her to relinquish her plan
of travelling for that of joining the American Army in the char
acter of a voluntary soldier. 30 This proposal concurred with her
29 During her abode in the family of Mr. Thomas, he had allowed her the income arising
from a number of fowls and sheep, with the understanding that it should be applied to useful
purposes. The burning of Charlestown and the siege of Boston had occasioned severe suffer
ing to the inhabitants of those places; and Deborah had contributed out of her scanty stock
for their relief. This small fund also enabled her to purchase the materials for a suit of mas
culine apparel. During several weeks of the winter, she was employed in spinning and weaving
a piece of handsome woolen cloth. As spring advanced, and the weather became more com
fortable, she retired, as we are informed, to a beautiful recess in the grove above the Borden
Hills, and there, with the aid of patterns, cut and made for herself a coat, vest, and breeches.
(Pantaloons reaching to the ankles were not then worn.) [Rev. S. Pratt.]
30 Her original plan of travelling as a gentleman was soon laid aside, from the lack of that
very necessary article, which, as the royal preacher well says, "answereth all things." There
remained no other method for gratifying the roving propensities which had now acquired full
possession of her mind, but this, to enlist as a soldier in the Continental army. There is no
need of denying that she felt also the impulse of earnest and genuine patriotism; but this seems
not to have been the principal motive. From the beginning of the Revolutionary struggle,
she had, though a young girl, sympathized intensely with the cause of liberty, and had, with
86 THE FEMALE REVIEW
inclinations on many accounts. Whilst she should have equal
opportunities for surveying and contemplating the world, she
should be accumulating some lucrative profit; and in the end, per
haps, be instrumental in the cause of liberty, which had for nearly
six years enveloped the minds of her countrymen.
Here I might bring forward her former monitors, and repre
sent the affecting dialogues which no virtuous mind wishes to dis
pute, she held with them on this trying occasion. But I leave this
for the poet, novelist, or some more able pen. Suffice it to say, the
following motto is the chief result of her debates: "There may be
an heroic innocence as well as an heroic courage." Custom, not
virtue, must lose its name by transition; unless custom be made
the criterion of virtue. She debated, with all the force of elo
quence that a sense of duty to a parent or mistress could produce,
whether to communicate her intentions to them, or to make a con
fident of any one in so important an undertaking. She resolved in
the negative, for this reason: If her pursuits should terminate in
an event that should cause her to lament her engagement, she
should not reflect upon herself for having gone counter to their
advice and injunctions; though she might, for not asking and ad
hering to them. In either case, she meant to make an expiation.
Females! you have resolutions and you execute them. And
you have, in a degree, the trial of the virtues and graces, that adorn
your sex. Then, by ideal similitude, put yourselves in the situa
tion of our Heroine (for thus she must be distinguished in future),
and then grant her such favors as you might wish from her. I
am your friend, and would do honor to that which dignifies your
character, and renders you the amiable companions of man. Heaven
who has aided Columbia s Cause, recognize my sincerity! And al
though it has been purchased, mostly, at the dear expense of her
deep emotion, listened, from a hill near her residence, to the boom of cannon on the day of Bun
It seems very clear that an enlistment as a soldier was not the original plan, nor patriotism
the original impulse.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 87
sons; you have not remained uninterested nor without the pang
of the distressed lover. I cannot desire you to adopt the example
of our Heroine, should the like occasion again offer; yet we must
do her justice. Whether that liberty which has now cemented
us in so happy an union, was purchased through direct, or indirect
means, we certainly owe the event to Heaven. And enterprise in
it can better be dispensed, than in many other eminent cases. Let
your imagination, therefore, travel with me through the toils and
dangers she has passed. And if you exercise that propriety and
sweetness of temper which I have known in many of you, in the
contemplation of other less interesting scenes and objects, I am
sure, I shall never be tired with your company.
The time prefixed for her personating the soldier. Reflections on her bidding adieu to
her relations, friends, &c. Takes a Western, circuitous route for Boston. Is hired
for a class of Uxbridge, as a soldier, for three years, or during the War. Her mode
of joining the Army at West Point. Is put into the Fourth Massachusetts Regi
IN April, 1781, having obtained what requisites she could for
her new but hazardous expedition, warm weather being generally
settled she allowed herself but a few days to compromise
matters with herself, and to take a private leave of her agreeable
circle, before her departure. 31 The thoughts of being put into a
kind of transformation were not so alarming as the dread fatality,
which she knew not but it might produce. Whilst most females
must recoil at the commencement of an undertaking of this nature,
few can have resolution to attempt a second trial. And had I a
tragic-comic pen, it might find ample scope in the scenes now be
31 It has been satisfactorily and conclusively shown in the Introduction, by official docu
ments, that "her departure" was in May, 1782.
88 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Several circumstances concurred, in this interim, which could
not have failed to excite peculiar emotions. She knew her mother
had long doted on her future felicity with a young gentleman of
fortune, and agreeable deportment; and with whom she had con
tracted an intimate and endearing acquaintance. He had given
her many cordial proofs of the sincerity of his attachment and last
ing affections. And had her mind been disencumbered with a
higher object in view, she might, doubtless, have united her affec
tions in the happiest alliance for life. 32 Already did she consider a
parent not only disappointed in her warmest wishes, but distracted
with anguish by the elopement, and for aught she knew, the fatal
and untimely catastrophe of a daughter. She felt for those who
had taken the charge of her youth ; 33 whose affections had not been
alienated by her disobedience. For him who loved her, she felt
with emotions that had not before alarmed her. Indeed, such
groups of ideas that hurried upon her mind must have been too
much for a breast naturally tender. She retired to indulge the
effects of nature, and in this seclusion, resolved, should her pur
suit succeed, to write to her mother in a manner that might pacify
her mind without disclosing the delicate stratagem.
32 That this talk about the "young gentleman of fortune" is mere "moonshine," will be
apparent from a quotation from the MS. memoir, to which I have repeatedly referred. She
"I did not, however, in this vernal season of raptures and despairs, escape the addresses
of a young man, of whom my mother, I believe, was passionately fond, and seemed struck with
wonder that I was not. She considered him regenerated. I had not her eyes to see such per
fection in this lump of a man, or that he possessed qualities that would regenerate me. I had
no aversion to him at first, and certainly no love, if I have ever understood that noble passion.
At any rate, this marry, or not to marry, was decided thus: On a certain parade day he came to
me, with all the sang froid of a Frenchman, and the silliness of a baboon, intoxicated, not with
love, but with rum. From that moment I set him down a fool, or in a fair way to be one."
This will serve to show that "The Female Review" cannot, in matters of detail, be safely
It is quite probable that a wish to escape the addresses of this young man though he is
doubtless grossly misrepresented in the extract just made was one of the motives which operat
ed in inducing her to leave home secretly, and join the army.
33 The family of Deacon Thomas, next to her mother, her best friends.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 89
But neither the rigor of a parent to induce her marriage with
one whom she did not dislike, nor her own abhorrence of the idea of
being considered a female candidate for conjugal union, is the cause
of her turning volunteer in the American War; as may here
after partly be conjectured by an anonymous writer. This must
be the greatest obstacle to the magic charm of the novelist. She
did not slight love, nor was she a distracted inamorata. She con
sidered it a divine gift: nor was she deceived. For, strike love out
of the soul, life becomes insipid and the whole body falls into lethar
gy. Love being always attended by hope, wafts us agreeably
through life. She was a lover; but different from those whose love
is only a short epilepsy, or for the gratification of fantastical and
criminal pleasure. This I trust will be demonstrated by a fact,
to which, but few can appeal. Her love extended to all. And I
know not but she continues to have this consoling reflection, that
no one can tax her for having coveted the prohibited enjoyment of
any individual. This is that love, whose original source and mo
tive induced Columbia s sons to venture their property, endear
ments their lives! to gain themselves the possession of that
heaven-born companion called liberty: and which, when applied
to conjugal union, is the same thing, only differently combined
with the other passions. And whatever effect it may then have had
on her, she has since been heard to say, without reserve that she
deemed it more honorable for one to be suffocated with the smoke
of cannon in the Cause in which she was then embarked, than to
waste a useful intended existence in despair, because Heaven had
justly denied the favorite of a whimsical and capricious fancy.
The perseverance for the object, dictated by love in both cases,
corroborates beyond doubt its efficacy and utility.
Just before her departure, she received a polite invitation to
join a circle of her acquaintance for rural festivity. She was cheer
ful; and the rest of the company more so. Among many lively
topics, it was remarked that Mr. , brother to a lady not
90 THE FEMALE REVIEW
present, had been killed in the battle at Long Island, in New York.
It was brushed into oblivion by concluding his sweetheart was
again courted. It drew involuntary tears from our intended her
oine, which were noticed. In the evening, she returned home
with emotions that might affect a lover.
Next day the weather was exceedingly pleasant; and nature
smiled with the season. Miss Sampson performed her business
with much affected gaiety and sprightly conversation but the night
was to be big with the important event. 34
34 I am sorry to spoil a good story; but there is another account given of her assumption
of male attire, far less romantic than that given in the text, and far more trustworthy. It was
given to my friend, Rev. Stillman Pratt, by a person in Middleborough who remembered
Deborah Sampson. It is also for substance confirmed by that distingusihed antiquary, Mr.
Samuel G. Drake of Boston, whose first wife was a near relative of Capt. Leonard. The account
is as follows:
During the war of the Revolution, Capt. Benjamin Leonard, a distant connection of Hon,
Daniel Leonard of Taunton, the author of the famous letters signed "Massachusettensis, 5
resided in Middleborough, eastwardly from what are now known as the Upper Namasket Works-
A negro woman of the name of Jennie, daughter of a slave of Judge Oliver, was an inmate of
his family. Here Deborah Sampson was staying for a time. By the aid of this negro woman,
Deborah dressed herself in a suit of clothes belonging to a young man named Samuel Leonard,
a son of Capt. Benjamin Leonard. Thus clad, she repaired to a recruiting-office, kept at the
house of Mr. Israel Wood. There she enlisted as a soldier under the assumed name of Timothy
Thayer, and received the bounty. Having now plenty of money, she went, thus attired, to a
tavern near the meeting-house, two miles east of Middleborough Four Corners; called for
spirituous liquors; got excited; and behaved herself in a noisy and indecent manner. During
the night she returned home; crept to bed with the negro; and when morning came resumed her
female attire, and returned to her female employments, as if nothing had happened.
She enlisted at this time, it is supposed, partly to have a little frolic, and to see how it would
seem to put on a man s clothing, but chiefly for the purpose of procuring a more ample supply
of spending money. Some of the money she now received was spent for female wearing apparel.
A few nights after this adventure, she appeared at a singing-school, held at a house near the
present residence of Mr. Earle Sproat, dressed out in a somewhat gaudy style. On this oc
casion, she made a present of a pair of long gloves to a young lady of her acquaintance, to whom
she felt indebted for special kindness in a time of sickness.
She had doubtless long meditated the design of becoming a soldier, but was not yet quite
prepared to join the army. It was now either in the winter season, or the early spring of 1782;
and it seemed best to wait a while.
When the time came for the soldiers newly enlisted in Middleborough to join their regi
ment, Timothy Thayer, to the surprise of the recruiting-officer, could not be found. His iden-
THE FEMALE REVIEW 91
Having put in readiness the materials she had judged requisite,
she retired at her usual hour, to bed, intending to rise at twelve.
She was doubtless punctual. But there was none, but the Invisi
ble, who could take cognizance of the effusions of passion on assum
ing her new garb; but especially on reflecting upon the use for
which it was assigned on leaving her connections, and even the
vicinity, where the flower of her life had expanded and was then in
its bloom. She took her course towards Taunton in hopes of meet
ing with some stranger, who was going directly to Head Quarters,
then at the Southward. 35 Having walked all night she was just
entering the Green in Taunton, when the bright luminary of day,
tity with Deborah Sampson was discovered in this manner: When the supposed Timothy was
putting his name to the articles of enlistment, an old lady, who sat near the fire carding wool,
remarked that he held the pen just as Deb. Sampson did. Deborah, having by means of a
felon, or whitlow, lost the proper use of her fore-finger, was obliged to hold a pen awkwardly
when she wrote. This was well known in the neighborhood where she had kept school, and
where, of course, she had often been seen to use a pen. This circumstance led to a strong sus
picion that she and Timothy Thayer were the same person. Inquiry being made, black Jennie
disclosed the part she had acted in dressing Deborah in men s clothes. Deborah, thus exposed,
was obliged to refund that portion of the bounty-money she had not spent, and to keep herself
out of sight for a time, lest punishment should overtake her. Traditiou affirms that Samuel
Leonard was so shocked at the idea of his clothes having been used by a woman, that he never
wore them afterwards.
There is no reason, however, to doubt that she provided herself with a suit of masculine
apparel, by the labor of her own hands, in the manner already stated. If her scheme was to be
put in execution, she must of course have a suit of her own. The clothes of Samuel Leonard
were put on merely for the occasion, and she had no intention of keeping them. The frolic
in which they were used occurred some months before her second enlistment.
The assurance given by the fortune-teller whom she visited, as stated on page 84, that
she would succeed in the plan she was meditating, seems to have contributed to confirm her
resolution to join the American army. Her repeated experiments in male attire had been
successful: she had passed for a man without suspicion; and, as she says in the MS. memoir,
she found men s clothes more convenient than those worn by her own sex. It was not without
considerable hesitation and misgiving that the final resolution was taken. The family of
Deacon Thomas had been kind to her; she had not alienated their affections even by her way
ward conduct; and to leave them utterly cost her a severe struggle. What troubled her most
of all was the thought that her mother, who still lived in Plympton, would be distressed at her
disappearance. At last however she came to the fixed determination to join the army, and
abide the consequences.
35 Taunton Green, which is the principal village in Taunton, is eight or ten miles from
Middleborough, on the west.
92 THE FEMALE REVIEW
which had so often gleamed upon her in the rusticity of a shep
herdess, then found her, not indeed impressed only with the sim
ple care of a brood of chickens or a bleating lamb but with a no
less important Cause than that in which the future felicity of Amer
ica was then suspended. The reflection startled her: but female
temerities were not to be palliated.
At this instant, she unwelcomely met Mr. William Bennett,
her near neighbor. Surely, an apoplexy could not have given her
a more sudden shock. 36 Though she was not positive he had dis
covered her masquerade, yet she knew if he had, she should be pur
sued when he reached home. After some refreshment, and supply
ing her pockets with a few biscuit, she hastened through the town,
but determined not to bend her course directly for the Army, till
she should know what had been done about her clandestine elope
ment. Fatigued with walking she took an obscure path, that led
half a mile into a thicket of wood, where the boughs of a large
pine served for her canopy during her repose till evening. Surprised
when she awoke on finding it dark, with difficulty she regained the
road; and by the next peep of dawn found herself in the environs
of her former neighborhood. 37
Dejected at the sight of the place where she had enjoyed so
much rural felicity, she half resolved to relinquish all thoughts of
further enterprize, and to palliate what had passed as a foible,
from which females are not always exempt. The debate was not
long. As usual, she must persevere and make the best of what
might prove a bad choice. The groves were her sanctuary for
meditation that day and the succeeding night. After the birds
had sung their evening carols, she lay down with intentions to
36 Her eye met his; her heart palpitated: she feared that she was known; but she passed
by him without discovery.
37 Her heart now began to fail her. Fearing that Mr. Bennett had penetrated her dis
guise, and that her friends would start in hot pursuit, she retraced her steps to Middleborough
to learn if any thing of the kind were in progress. Finding no evidence of pursuit, she resolved
to persevere in her romantic undertaking, but started in another direction.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 93
sleep: but necessity, our old alarming friend, roused her attention.
Impelled by hunger, during the tranquillity of the village she re
paired to a house she had much frequented, with intentions to ap
pease the cravings of nature. Going to a pantry where victuals was
wont to be deposited, and meeting with no better success than a
crust of bread, she again retired to her solitary asylum the caroling
of the feathered tribe having again noticed her of day, she resumed
her ramble and soon lost sight of those
Adjacent villas, long to her endear d,
By the rough piles our ancestors have rear d.
She reached Rochester that day, and the next, Bedford, a sea
port town in Massachusetts ; which had been much distressed by the
British in 1778-79. She here met with an American, Commander
of a cruiser; who, after much importunity and proffered emolu
ment, gained her consent to go [as] his waiter to sea. But she was
informed that, although he used much plausibility on the shore, it
was changed to austerity at sea. 38 She therefore requested him
to keep her month s advance, and leave to go into town on business,
and that night lodged in Rochester, and was careful not to see him
Hearing nothing concerning her elopement, she concluded to
take a circuitous ramble through some of the Western towns and
visit Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, before she joined the
army. This was partly to gratify curiosity and partly to familiarize
herself to the different manners of mankind a necessary qualifica-
*It has been reported, that she enlisted, as a Continental Soldier, for a class in Middle-
borough that she received a part of the stipulated bounty that she was immediately
discovered, and refunded the bounty. I have no account of this from her; nor is the re
port in the least authenticated. It probably has since taken its rise from this circum
38 Rochester joins Middleborough on the south. At a tavern in that place, where she
spent the next night, she saw some of her town s-people, without being known by them. The
next day she reached New Bedford, where she enlisted on board of a privateer, but abandoned
the design on being informed of the captain s bad treatment of his men.
39 For proof of the correctness of this "report," see note 34.
94 THE FEMALE REVIEW
tion for a soldier, and perhaps not detrimental to any whose minds
are properly fortified, and whose established maxim is To do
She left Rochester on Friday. The next night and the suc
ceeding, she tarried at Mr. Mann s tavern in Wrentham. From
thence she visited some of the Western towns in the State. 40 Find
ing herself among strangers, her fear of being discovered subsided,
and she found herself in an element from which she had long in
voluntarily been sequestered. She doubtless, had awkward ges
tures on her first assuming the garb of the man; and without
doubt more awkward feelings. Those who are unacquainted with
masquerade must make a difference between that which is only
to heighten beauty for fantastical amusement and pleasure
and that of sex, which is to continue perhaps for life, to accomplish
some important event. She acted her part: and having a natural
taste for refinement she was everywhere received as a blithe, hand
some and agreeable young gentleman.
It may be conjectured whether or not she meant to see the
army before she enlisted. By what follows it appears she did not.
She doubtless chose to engage for Massachusetts; not because she
could, render any more service, but because it is her native State,
and \vhich had been the opening of the first scene of the horrid
drama, and had suffered most by its actors.
In Bellingham she met with a speculator, with whom, for a
certain stipulated bounty,* she engaged for a class of Uxb ridge as
*General Washington refused any pecuniary pay for his services during the war.
Our Heroine needed, at least, his wealth, to have followed the example.
40 This is not true. From Wrentham, where she spent two days, she went to Boston,
travelling, as before, all .the way on foot. She then passed through Roxbury, Dedham, and
Medfield, to Bellingham; wishing to proceed a considerable distance from home before she en
listed. In Bellingham she met with a recruiting-officer; and, being at this time almost destitute
of money, she enlisted as a soldier, under the assumed name of Robert Shurtliffe. This was
the name of her elder brother. [MS. Memoir.]
THE FEMALE REVIEW 95
a Continental Soldier, f 41 Instead then of going to Boston, she
went back and was immediately conducted to Worcester, where she
was mustered. She was enrolled by the name of Robert Shurtliffe.
The general muster-master was doubtless glad to enrol the name of
a youth whose looks and mien promised to do honor to the cause,
in which she was then engaged. 42 Ah, females we have too long
estimated your abilities and worth at too mean a price! Pardon
an inadvertent misapplication of our intellects; as our profession
is improvement, and our propensities to redress all wrongs.
On May 13th, she arrived at West Point in company with
about fifty other soldiers, who were conducted there by a sergeant
sent for that purpose. 43 West Point was then an important post,
where was stationed a large division of the American army. It
guarded a passage in the river Hudson, sixty miles from the city
of New York. West Point will forever remain distinguished by
the infamous treason of General Arnold in 1780. His conduct, the
fThose are called Continental Soldiers, who engaged for three years, or during the
41 The male population of every town, capable of bearing arms, was at that time divided
into classes, as they were called; and each class was obliged to furnish a soldier for the army.
The class sometimes paid a very considerable bounty. Deborah enlisted, and was accepted, for
a class in Uxbridge. The enlistment was for three years, or during the war. Bellingham is
separated from Uxbridge by the town of Mendon. The man who enlisted Deborah is called a
speculator, because he withheld from her a part of the bounty-money to which she was entitled.
42 The muster-master was Capt. Eliphalet Thorp of Dedham, whose certificate has al
ready been given in the Introduction. From his certificate it appears that she enlisted May 20,
1782; more than a year later than is stated in the context, page 16.
The story told by Mrs. Ellet about Deborah s passing seven weeks after her enlistment in
the family of Capt. Nathan Thayer in Medway, and the "love passage" between the supposed
Robert Shurtliffe and a girl visiting the family, appears to be destitute of any foundation.
43 In the MS. memoir, she says that this march of ten or twelve days was very fatiguing
to her. At the close of a chill and drizzly day, on approaching a fire in a tavern, she fainted,
and fell upon the-4Joor. Recovering, she found herself surrounded by kind spirits ministering
to her relief. Particularly she noticed a beautiful young woman, the innkeeper s wife, who
offered her cordials and refreshments, with many expressions of pity and sympathy that one so
young and tender should suffer the hardships of such a march. This amiable lady insisted that
the delicate young recruit should take her place in the bed with her husband. In the memoir,
the account of the march is highly colored.
96 THE FEMALE REVIEW
preceding winter in the city of Philadelphia, had been censured;
which gave him offence. The consequence was he sought for re
venge. He conspired with Sir Henry Clinton to deliver West Point
and all the American army into the hands of the British; which
he meant to accomplish during General Washington s absence in
Connecticut. But the plot was providentially disconcerted. Ma
jor Andre, Adjutant General in the British army, an illustrious
young officer, had been sent as a spy to concert the plan of opera
tions with Arnold. On his return he was overtaken, condemned
by a court-martial, and executed.* Arnold made his escape by
getting on board the Vulture, a British vessel but his character wears
a stigma, which time can never efface.
In the morning, she crossed the Hudson near Fort Clinton.
This is one of the most beautiful and useful rivers in the United
States. It takes its name, as do many others in America, from its
discoverer. Its source is between the lakes Ontario and Cham-
plain, running in a southern direction two hundred and fifty miles,
till it falls into the ocean, where it forms a part of New York harbor.
It is navigable for ships of almost any burthen to the city of the
same name, a hundred and thirty-six miles from its mouth.
They marched on level land, and quickly had orders to parade
for inspection. The soldiers were detached into their proper com
panies and regiments. It fell to her lot to be in Capt. Webb s
company of light infantry, in Col. Shepard s regiment, and in Gen
eral Paterson s Brigade. 44
*A particular account of his behaviour, from the time he was captured to his execu
tion, would heave the most stubborn bosom and affect the magnanimous mind.
44 Our heroine enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded at that time
by Col. William Shepard of Westfield, but soon afterwards by Col. Henry Jackson of Boston.
This regiment was the old Ninth. Col. Shepard had command of it from 1777 to 1782.
George Webb was one of the captains.
Col. William Shepard was born December 1, 1737, son of Deacon John Shepard. He
entered the army at the age of seventeen; was in 1759, a captain under Gen. Amherst in the old
French war; and was in various battles, as at Fort William Henry, Crown Point, &c. He
THE FEMALE REVIEW 97
The second day she drew a French fusee, a knapsack, cartridge-
box, and thirty cartridges. Her next business was to clean her
piece, and to exercise once every morning in the drill, and at four
o clock, P. M. on the grand parade. Her garb was exchanged for
a uniform peculiar to the infantry. It consisted of a blue coat
lined with white, with white wings on the shoulders and cords on
the arms and pockets; a white waistcoat, breeches or overhauls
and stockings, with black straps about the knees; half boots, a
black velvet stock, and a cap, with a variegated cockade on one
side, a plume tipped with red on the other, and a white sash about
the crown. Her martial apparatus, exclusive of those in marches,
were a gun and bayonet, a cartridge box and hanger with white
belts. She says she learned the manual exercise with facility and
dispatch, though she lost her appetite; which, through favor, she
afterw r ards recovered.
Her stature is perhaps more than the middle size; that is,
five feet and seven inches. The features of her face are regular;
but not what a physiognomist would term the most beautiful.
Her eye is lively and penetrating. She has a skin naturally clear,
and flushed with a blooming carnation. But her aspect is rather
masculine and serene, than effeminate and sillily jocose. Her
waist might displease a coquette : but her limbs are regularly pro
portioned. Ladies of taste considered them handsome, when in
the masculine garb.* Her movement is erect, quick and strong:
gestures naturally mild, animating and graceful; speech deliberate,
with firm articulation. Her voice is not disagreeable for a female,
married Sarah Dewey, who was his wife fifty-seven years. Entering the army of the Revolu
tion as lieutenant-colonel, he was colonel in 1777, and in 1782 a brigadier-general. He fought
in twenty-two battles. He was afterwards major-general of the militia. From 1797, he was a
member of Congress six years. For thirty-four years he was a professor of religion, and a con
stant attendant upon public worship. His house was a house of prayer. He died at Westfield
Mass., November 11, 1817, aged nearly eighty. [Allen s Biog. Diet., 3d. edit.]
*She wore a bandage about her breasts, during her disguise, for a very different pur
pose from that which females wear round their waists. It is not improbable that the
severe pressure of this bandage served to compress the bosom, while the waist had every
natural convenience for augmentation.
98 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Such is the natural formation and such the appearance of the
Female whom I have now introduced into a service dreadful I hope
to most men, and certainly destructive to all. Perhaps, exclusive
of other irregularities, we must announce the commencement of
such an enterprise a great presumption in a female, on account of
the inadequateness of her nature. Love and propensity are nearly
allied; and we have already discovered the efficacy of both. No
love is without hope: but that only is genuine which has for its
object virtue, and is attended with resolution and magnanimity.
By these the animal economy is enabled to surmount difficulties
and to accomplish enterprises and attain objects, which are un
attainable by the efforts of the other passions. When love sinks
into despondency, the whole system becomes enervated, and is
rendered incapacitated for the attainment of common objects.
What is Liberty I mean, in a genuine sense? The love of it
prompts to the exposure of our property and the jeopardy of our
lives. This is the surest definition of it: For interwoven w r ith
and dependent on it, are all our enjoyments. Consequently, love,
the noblest passion in man, in no other instance can do more or
better show its effects.
March by stages from West Point to Haerlem; from thence to White Plains. Her Com
pany of infantry engage a party of Dutch cavalry. Retreat and are reinforced by
Col. Sproat. Capture of the British Army under Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown,
where our heroine does duty during the siege.
SIX years having elapsed since our revolutionary Epoch, four
years and ten months since our ever memorable Indepen
dence Columbia s Daughter treads the field of Mars! 45
And though she might, like Flora, have graced the damask rose,
45 The time when Deborah Sampson joined the army is here declared to have been May,
1781. The same statement is made in the MS. memoir; where, after relating the manner of
her leaving home in April, 1781, as she affirms; her visiting Taunton, New Bedford, Boston,
THE FEMALE REVIEW 99
and have continued, peradventure, in the contemplation and un
molested enjoyment of her rural and sylvan scenes; yet for a season
she chose the sheathless cutlass and the martial plume. She is a
nymph scarcely past her teens! Think females, think but do not
resolve till you shall have heard the sequel.
We have already found that she did not engage in this perhaps
unprecedented achievement without the precaution of reflection
and pathetic debates on the cause. And this renders her more ex
cusable than many soldiers who rush, like the horse, to the battle,
before they establish their proper ultimatum, which is derived only
from a thorough investigation of the principles of the contention.
Happy for us that a dissemination of this knowledge is oftener the
effect of a confederated Republic, than of the jurisdiction of an un
limited monarch. But neither a delirium, nor love in distraction,
has driven her precipitate to this direful extremity. In cool blood,
yet with firm attachment, we now see blended in her the peerless-
ness of enterprise, the deportment, ardor and heroism of the veteran,
with the milder graces, vigor and bloom of her secreted, softer
Dedham, and other towns; her enlistment at Bellingham, &c., she adds, "It was near the
last of April when we arrived at Worcester, where a regular muster and enrolment took place
.... A large company of us then commenced our march for the camp at West Point,
commanded by a sergeant, who was sent from the lines for that purpose." She then describes
at considerable length, and in an animated, picturesque style, the march to the Hudson. "We
crossed the Housatonic," she says, "at New Milford, on the 12th of May." A day or two
later, they crossed the Hudson at West Point, and joined the army. These statements are
made by Mr. Mann as the mouth-piece of Deborah Sampson.
Notwithstanding this fulness and particularity of statement, there is much reason to be
lieve that she did not enlist till at least a year later. In her petition to the General Court in
January, 1792, she says she enlisted May 20, 1782. Capt. Thorp, the muster-master, says
she enlisted on that day; the resolve of the General Court makes the same statement; the records
of the First Baptist Church in Middleborough say, that, in the spring of 1782, she put on men s
clothes, and enlisted as a soldier. In any ordinary case, such evidence would be decisive. In
the aforesaid petition, she would assuredly make the most of her case. If she had participated
in the campaign which resulted in the triumph at Yorktown, she would have said so. Her
silence proves, in our apprehension, that she did not. But Mr. Mann desired to make an in
teresting book; and therefore included among the experiences of Deborah Sampson the great
campaign of 1781. This matter has been fully considered in the Introduction.
100 THE FEMALE REVIEW
On the tenth day in the morning, at reveille-beat, the company
to which she belonged, with some others, had orders to parade and
march. They drew four days provision ; which, with her large sack
of clothes and martial apparatus, would have been a burden too
much for females accustomed only to delicate labor. She left
some of her clothes, performed the march, and use soon became a
As the infantry belonged to the rangers, a great part of their
business was scouting; which they followed in places most likely
for success. In this duty she continued till they arrived at Haer-
lem; where they continued a few days and then proceeded in like
manner to White Plains. Here they, in their turn, kept the lines,
and had a number of small skirmishes; but nothing uncommon
occurred in these places.
On July 3d, she experienced in a greater degree, what she had
before mostly known by anticipation. 46 Captain Webb s com-
46 We know of no reason to doubt the truth of what is related in this paragraph and that
immediately succeeding. A better statement, abridged from the MS. memoir, with some ad
ditions, is the following:
About the 10th of June, a detachment of troops, including our heroine, received orders to
go out on a scouting-party. They crossed the Hudson at Stony Point. This brought them
to the east side of that river. Their destination was the Neutral Ground between the American
and British armies. They halted for one night at Tarrytown, where the detachment was divided
into two parties. They soon came into the vicinity of the enemy s pickets, which they were
careful to elude. They proceeded as far as Haerlem, within the British lines, and only eight
miles from the city of New York, then held by the British army. After making such observa
tions of the enemy s positions as they were able, they turned back to the White Plains. About
the 25th of June, they left the White Plains, and directed their course towards the Hudson.
The next day, the skirmish happened which is related in the text. It took place in the neighbor
hood of Tappan Bay, between Sing Sing and Tarrytown. The party encountered was a de
tachment from Col. Delancey s regiment of dragoons, consisting chiefly, if not wholly, of Tories,
and then stationed at Morrisania, near the Sound. This regiment consisted in part of de
scendants of the old Dutch settlers: hence the phrase in the text, "Dutch cavalry." Delancey
was an active officer; and his regiment made frequent incursions beyond the British lines, bent
on rapine and often committing acts of great cruelty.
The enemy commenced the attack by a volley from their carbines; then suddenly wheeled
about and galloped away. The Americans, being on foot, had no opportunity to return the
fire. Repeating the attack, their second fire was answered by a most deadly discharge from
the Continentals. The enemy being re-enforced by a party of Tories on foot, the Americans
THE FEMALE REVIEW 101
pany being on a scout in the morning, and headed by Ensign Town,
came up with a party of Dutch cavalry from Gen. Delancie s core
then in Morsena. They were armed with carabines, or fusees, and
broad swords. The action commenced on their side. The Ameri
cans withstood two fires before they had orders to retaliate. The
ground was then warmly disputed for considerable time. At
length the infantry were obliged to give way : but they were quickly
reinforced by a detachment led on by Col. Sproat, a valiant officer
of the second Massachusetts regiment. 47 They were then too
much for the enemy, although a large number had landed from
boats for their assistance. The ground they had gained was then
measured back with precipitance, even to a considerable distance
within their own lines, where the action terminated.
The Americans having retired to their encampment, our fair
soldier, with some others, came near losing her life by drinking
cold water. She says she underwent more with the fatigue and
heat of the day, than by fear of being killed; although her left-
hand man was shot dead at the second fire, and her ears and eyes
were compelled to retreat to a piece of woods near by, still keeping up a scattering fire. They
were soon strengthened by the arrival of part of Col. Sproat s regiment, and poured in a des
tructive fire upon the enemy, who were speedily compelled to a hasty and disorderly retreat,
after sustaining a heavy loss.
It must have been in this encounter that she was wounded, although "The Female Re
view" and the MS. memoir represent the wound as having been received in a skirmish with a
marauding party of Tories at a later period. Both in her petition to the General Court, Jan
uary, 1792, and in her declaration under oath, September, 1818, she says she was wounded at
47 This excellent officer, Col. Ebenezer Sproat, was a native of Middleborough. He was
the tallest man in the brigade of Gen. John Glover, of which his regiment formed a part; being
six feet and four inches in height. Of the perils of the war he largely partook, being engaged in
the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, and many others. His superior excellence as
a disciplinarian attracted the notice of the Baron Steuben, inspector-general of the army, who
appointed him inspector of the brigade. After the war, he was one of the leaders in the enter
prise of settling the present State of Ohio; and was known to the Indians as the "Big Buckeye;"
whence originated the term since applied to all the people of that State. He died suddenly, at
Marietta, his residence, in February, 1805, aged fifty-three. [Hildreth s Early Settlers of Ohio.]
Our author is not careful about his spelling. In the text we have "Gen. Delancie" for Col.
Delancey; core" instead of corps; and Morrisania is transformed into "Morsena," all in a
102 THE FEMALE REVIEW
were continually tormented with the expiring agonies and horrid
scenes of many others struggling in their blood. She recollects
but three on her side who were killed, John Beeby, James Battles
and Nooble Spern. 48 She escaped with two shots through her
coat, and one through her cap.
Perhaps by this time some may be ready to tax her with ex
treme obduracy, and without mercy to announce her void of all
delicacy of sentiment and feeling. And really, had this been her
customary plight in her kitchen at home, she might not have passed
for an agreeable companion: for she was perfectly besmeared with
gunpowder. But if we reflect that this was not the effect of indo
lence or sluttishness, but for aught we know, of the most endearing
attachment to her country, it ought at least to awaken the grati
tude of those who may remain too callous to this great philanthropic
passion. It behooves every one to consider that war, though to the
highest degree destructive and horrid, is effectually calculated
to rouze up many tender and sympathetic passions. If the princi
ples of humanity and benevolence are ever to be forced into exertion,
war, which should be the last resource, must have the desired effect.
And this renders it at best, but a necessary evil ; and the promoters
of it are the subjects oi the greatest aspersion. Let us be free from
all other evils, to which dire necessity does not prompt, and we
may excuse even a female for taking arms in defence of all that is
dear and lovely. She doubtless once thought she could never look
on the battle array. She now says no pen can describe her feelings
experienced in the commencement of an engagement, the sole ob
ject of which is to open the sluices of human blood. The unfeigned
tear of humanity has more than once started into her eyes in the
rehearsal of such a scene as I have just described. 49
48 Others were killed and wounded, she knew not how many. These names she happened
to remember, as she was well acquainted with the persons. The proper spelling is John Beebe,
James Battles, Noble Sperin.
49 At this place she mentions, in the MS. memoir, that, just after this skirmish, she came
to be under the command of Col. Henry Jackson, a native of Boston. But Col. Jackson did
THE FEMALE REVIEW 103
From this time till Autumn nothing unusual in war happened
to her. Indeed it may be said everything she did in this situation
was singular; much of which might afford amusement and moral
inferences. But the limits prescribed to these Memoirs will not
admit the detail of minute circumstances. 50
In August, the Marquis de la Fayette had been dispatched
from the main army to contemplate the operations of Lord Corn-
wallis s army in Virginia. After a multiplicity of military manoe
uvres between them, his Lordship selected Yorktown and Glou
cester Point as the most conspicuous and advantageous posts for
the seat of military operations. Yorktown lies on the river of the
not assume the command of the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, in which she was a soldier,
till some time in 1782, upon the promotion of Col. Shepard, its former commander, to the rank
of brigadier-general: so that here is additional evidence that our heroine did not join the army
till May, 1782.
In the MS. memoir, in immediate connection with the mention of Col. Jackson, she also
says, "In Col. Jackson s regiment I readily recognized Dr. James Thacher of Plymouth, our
surgeon. I had before known him at his house and in its vicinity," &c. It appears from Dr.
Thacher s "Military Journal," a work of high authority in regard to the Revolutionary War,
that he was at this time surgeon of Col. Henry Jackson s regiment. "Col. Henry Jackson, who
commands our regiment," he says, "is a native of Boston. He is very respectable as a com
mander, is gentlemanly in his manners, strongly attached to military affairs, and takes a pe
culiar pride in the discipline and martial appearance of his regiment." The MS. memoir, from
which I have so often quoted, speaks of Col. Jackson in terms of the warmest eulogy. "There
was," it says, "an affability and yet a dignity of manner that won the hearts of all under his
command. This rendered obedience to orders, and submission to discipline, easy."
Col. Jackson, after the war, resided in Boston, was we believe a brigadier-general in the
militia, and had the care of Mrs. Swan s large property while her husband was a prisoner in
France. He is represented as having been an elegant and fascinating man. He died in 1809.
and his remains were deposited in Mrs. Swan s tomb in Dorchester. He was never married.
50 We now enter on the details of the glorious and decisive campaign of 1781. The var
ious operations included in this campaign are related with much more fulness in the MS. memoir
than in this volume. The account extends through eighty pages, equalling in length the pre
vious portion of the memoir. But this account, it is perfectly evident, was not furnished by De
borah Sampson, but was taken by Mr. Mann, the compiler, from the printed accounts of those
transactions, especially from Thacher s "Military Journal." This work must have been before
him all the while; for he borrows from it constantly, and uses the very words of Dr. Thacher in
more than twenty instances; and yet Deborah Sampson is represented as the speaker through
the whole. This portion of the MS. memoir is written in a better style than the preceding and
subsequent portions, indicating its origin. Dr. Thacher was present at the siege of Yorktown.
104 THE FEMALE REVIEW
same name, which empties into the Chesapeak. It forms a capa
cious harbor, admitting ships of great burthen. Gloucester
Point being on the opposite side, and projecting so far into the river
that the distance being but about a mile, they entirely command
the navigation of it. Thither Cornwallis with 7,000 excellent
troops repaired, strongly fortified the places, and made other good
About the last of August Count de Grasse arrived with a
powerful French fleet in the Chesapeak, and blockaded Yorktown
by water. Soon after, Admiral Graves with a fleet appeared off
the capes of Virginia. The French immediately slipped their
cables, turned out of their anchorage ground, and an action suc
ceeded; and though both sides sustained considerable loss, it was
The Generals Washington and Rochambeau had previously
moved their main armies to the southward: and when they heard
of the French Admiral s arrival in the Chesapeak they made the
most rapid marches till they arrived at the head of the Elk. With
in an hour after their arrival they received an express from De
Grasse, with the joyful intelligence of his arrival and situation.
The combined armies embarked on board the vessels which the
French Admiral had previously prepared to transport them down
the Chesapeak; and by the 25th of September they landed at
Williamsburgh. The American and French Chief Commanders
had reached Williamsburgh by excessive travelling eleven days
sooner. They immediately proceeded to visit the Admiral on
board the Ville de Paris. A council being called and their plan of
co-operation settled, they returned; and all the Americans and
allied troops soon formed a collision at W T illiamsburgh. 51 Fayette
had previously been joined by 3,000 under the Marquis de St.
Simon: The whole regular force thus collected amounted to nearly
12,000 men, exclusive of the Virginia militia, which were called
51 "Formed a junction," "united their forces," the writer means to say.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 105
to service, and commanded by Governor Nelson. Preparations
were then made with great dispatch for putting the army in a
situation to move on to Yorktown.
It is almost needless to mention the hardships that common
soldiers must have undergone in so long and rapid a march. The
deficiency of clothing, particularly of shoes, but most of all, the
scanty and wretched quality of provisions, augmented their suffer
ings. Our heroine sustained her march from some part of New
York with good heart, and without faltering, till the day on which
she landed with the troops at Williamsburgh. She was then much
indisposed; which was not the only time she had experienced the
inconveniences of the concealment of her sex. She puked for
several hours without much intermission ; which she imputed chiefly
to the rolling of the vessel. With the rest, she here drew good pro
vision and spirits: and by the next day, she was revived; and the
lustre and august manoeuvring of the army seemed to perfect a
cure beyond the reach of medicine.
On the morning of the 28th of September, after parade and
review, General Orders were read to the armies; wherein his Ex
cellency, Gen. Washington, emphatically enjoined "If the enemy
should be tempted to meet the army on its march, the General
particularly enjoins the troops to place their principal reliance on the
bayonet, that they may prove the vanity of the boast, which the
British make of their peculiar prowess in deciding battles by that
weapon." After this, the American and French Chief Comman
ders personally addressed their armies. Our blooming soldier,
always attentive to understand every new manoeuvre and event
ful scene, happened to stand so near his Excellency Gen. Washing
ton, that she heard distinctly what he said. He spoke with firm
articulation and winning gestures : but his aspect and solemn mode
of utterance affectingly bespoke the great weight, that rested on
his mind. The common soldiers were before mostly ignorant of
106 THE FEMALE REVIEW
the expedition, upon which they were going. 52 Being now in
formed by General Orders and the affectionate addresses of their
leaders, every countenance, even of many who had discovered a
mutinizing spirit, wore an agreeable aspect, and a mutual harmony
and reverential acquiescence in the injunctions of their commanders
were reciprocated through the whole.
The phalanx composed the advanced guards, and was mostly
commanded by De La Fayette. Our heroine was one of these;
and by reason of the absence of a non-commissioned officer, she
was appointed to supply his place. Just before the setting of the
sun, Col. Scammell, being officer of the day, brought word for the
army to halt two miles from Yorktown. The officers and soldiers
were strictly enjoined to lie on their arms all night.
Such language (strange to say) was perfectly familiar to our
fair soldier. It did not even excite in her a tremor, although it
was a prelude to imminent danger. She had been used to keep her
martial apparatus bright and in the best order, as they were often
prematurely wanted. Anticipating no greater danger than she
had often actually experienced, although she foreboded a great
event, she acquiesced in the mandates of her officers with a calm
ness that might have surprised an unexperienced soldier.
Next morning, after roll-call, their equipments again reviewed,
they went through the quick motions of loading and firing blank
cartridges by the motion of the sword. They formed in close
column, displayed* to the right and left, and formed again. The
grand division then displayed, formed by platoon, when they were
ordered to march in the best order. The next day, Col. Scammell,
approaching the enemy s works, was mortally wounded and taken
prisoner by a party of horse in ambuscade. Yorktown was this
day strongly invested by the allied armies. Their lines being
52 No soldier in the American army, after reaching Philadelphia, could have been igno-
nrat as to the design of the expedition.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 107
formed, the French extending from the river above the town to a
morass, where they were met by the Americans on the right, their
hard fatigues begun. They continued more than a week laborious,
sustaining a very heavy cannonade from the besieged. This busi
ness came near proving too much for a female in her teens. Being
naturally ambitious, it was mortification too severe for her to be
outdone. Many apparently able-bodied men complained they
were unfit for duty, and were relieved. Among others, she affected
pleasure in giving them the mortifying consolation that, although
she believed their fever was settled upon them, she hoped it would
prove nothing worse than the cannon or gunpowder fever.
The fifth night she was one of a party who was ordered to
work on a battery, the completion of which had been prevented by
a too intense rain of bombs. Before morning she was almost ready
to yield to the horrors of despair. Her hands were so blistered
that she could scarcely open or shut them : and it was nearly twenty-
four hours since she had taken much nourishment. But she re
solved to persevere as long as nature would make her efforts;
which she effected almost beyond credibility.
On the ninth, the American intrenchments being completed,
a severe cannonade and bombardment commenced by them on the
right, and continued all night without intermission. Next morn
ing, the French .opened their redoubts and batteries on the left; and
a tremendous roar of cannon and mortars continued that day with
out ceasing. Our heroine had never before seen either of the main
armies together. Being thus brought into view of them and led
on to a general engagement, doubtless excited in her sensations
and emotions different from what she had before experienced.
And I should need the pathos of a Homer, and the polished num
bers of a Hume or Pope to do justice to her feelings, or to exceed
the reality of this scenery. The ground actually trembled for
miles by the tremendous cannonade, which was incessantly main
tained by both sides day and night. Notwithstanding it was not
108 THE FEMALE REVIEW
so horribly destructive as is generally the consequence of an open
field action; yet the contemplation of two immense armies, headed
by the most illustrious leaders, each strenuously contending for
victory, must have afforded ideas peculiarly shocking and august.
The nights exhibited scenes to the highest degree solemn and aw
fully sublime. Perpetual sheets of fire and smoke belched, as
from a volcano, and towered to the clouds. And whilst the eye
was dazzled at this, the ear was satiated and stunned by the tre
mendous explosion of artillery and the screaming of their shot. 53
I shall here notice a heroic deed of this gallantress; which,
while it deserves the applause of every patriot and veteran, must
chill the blood of the tender and sensible female.
Two bastion redoubts of the enemy having advanced two
hundred yards on the left, which checked the progress of the com
bined forces, it was proposed to reduce them by storm. To in
spire emulation in the troops, the reduction of one was committed
to the Americans, and the other to the French. A select corps
was chosen. The command of the infantry was given to Fayette,
with permission to manage as he pleased. He therefore ordered
them to remember Cherry Valley and New London Quarter, and
to retaliate accordingly, by putting them to the sword, after having
carried the redoubts. 54 Our Heroine was one of these! At dark
they marched to the assault with unloaded arms, but with fixed
bayonets; and with unexampled bravery, attacking on all sides at
once, after some time of violent resistance were complete victors of
the redoubts. There were two women in the one attacked by the
53 The cannonade, on the part of the British, commenced September 27; on the part of
the allied army, not till the completion of their trenches, October 9.
54 There is much reason for doubting the truth of this statement. Dr. Thacher, who
gives a particular account of the assault and capture of these two redoubts, makes no allusion
to such orders. He says distinctly "not a man was killed after he ceased to resist." "Such
was the order displayed by the assailants, that all resistance was soon overcome." A New
Hampshire captain, wishing to avenge the death of Colonel Scammell threatened to take the
life of Major Campbell, who commanded the redoubt on the left of the British line; but Col.
Alexander Hamilton, who led the storming party, would not suffer it to be done.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 109
Americans, and when our fair soldier entered the third was unknown.
After entering the carnage was shocking for a few minutes. She,
standing near one of the women, heard her pronounce Yankee,*
which was no sooner articulated, than she saw a bayonet plunged
into her breast, and the crimson, vital liquid, that gushed from the
incision, prevented her further utterance! After this, they cried
and begged so on their knees for quarter, that the humanity of the
Americans overcame all resentment, and they spared all who ceased
to resist; for which they were afterwards applauded by their
humane officers. Before they left the fort, one clapped her on the
shoulder, and said "Friend, fear not; you are only disfigured be
hind." She took no apparent notice of what he said, till an op
portunity presented: when, happy for her, she found it no worse!
The lapelle of her coat dangled by string; which must have been
the effect of a broad sword, or of a very close shot. 56
Was not this enterprise, alone, in a female, worth the attain
ment of liberty? Yet, where is the fair one who could again
hazard it! Methinks I see the crimson cheek of the female turn
ing pallid, her vigorous limbs relaxing and tottering in the re
hearsal of this eventful scene. Yet, let no one imagine I have
painted it to the life. The fact is simply narrated; and the proper
*The derivation of this word is from farmer Jonathan Hastings of Cambiidge about
1713. He used it to express a good quality. Thus, a yankee horse and yankee cider,
were an excellent horse and excellent cider. 55 The British used it wrongly, as a word of
contempt to the Americans. Thus, when they marched out of Boston in 1775, they play
ed a march, called Yankee Doodle; though the prediction of an active boy was that their
retrograde march would be to Chevy Chase. During this siege, two bombs having fell,
their fuses were extracted whilst burning; one by a Female, the other by a Soldier. The
contents of one were squash, of the other, molasses.
55 This account of the derivation of the word "Yankee" is borrowed from Thacher s
"Military Journal," p. 19. It is, nevertheless, wholly unsatisfactory. The more probable
derivation is from the word "English," corrupted by the Indians into Yenglees, then Yanklees,
and finally Yankees.
56 Was Deborah Sampson here at this time? Did she work in the trenches, with blistered
hands, on the night of the 7th October? Was she one of the storming-party on the night of the
15th? Did she witness the surrender of Cornwallis? We confess we have our doubts on the
110 THE FEMALE REVIEW
coloring is left for those peculiar inmates of the female benevolent
and heroic breasts. I hasten to drop the scene.
The French commanders, whose services demand the grati
tude of every American, led on their troops with a heroic bravery,
scarcely to be excelled. And whilst De Grasse displayed much
valor, and w r as doing great execution with his Armada, the Ameri
cans, headed by the ever dear and unrivalled Washington redoubled
their activity and resolution. Nothing thus but inevitable ruin,
or an entire surrender, awaited Cornwallis and on then 19th of
October, after three \veeks severe storm, 57 an armistice having
taken place for twenty-four hours, he was glad to accept the terms
of capitulation. He was not permitted to march out with colors
flying an honor that had been refused to Gen. Lincoln the pre
ceding winter, when he, with all the American garrison, was cap
tured in Charleston, South Carolina, 58 Lincoln was now appoint
ed to receive his sword and the submission of the royal army pre
cisely in the mode his own had been conducted.
The marching out of such an immense army, as prisoners of
war, must have been a scene the most solemn and important.
The magnanimity which was discovered in Gen. Washington upon
this occasion, was inexpressibly peculiar. Tears trickled from his
eyes during the most of the scene. 59 And a view of him in these
moments must have forced a tear of reverential gratitude from the
most obdurate. He thought of his Country! Remember the
Patriot remember the Philanthropist!
57 The allied forces, about 12,000 strong, arrived before Yorktown September 27. They
were engaged till October 9 in throwing up intrenchments; suffering all the while a severe can
nonade from the town. On the evening of the 9th they first opened fire on the British lines.
58 Gen. Lincoln with his army, and the city of Charleston, surrendered to the British
forces under Sir Henry Clinton, May 12, 1780.
59 Gen. Washington was not inclined to weep, and it is not likely that he wept on this
occasion. Dr. Thacher, who was an eye-witness of the scene, and describes it with great par
ticularity, makes no mention of such want of self-control on the part of the American comman-
THE FEMALE REVIEW 111
Thus was the grand pillar of war at length broken down, and
an ample foundation laid for the establishment of the so much
celebrated and wished for palladium of peace. We certainly owe
this event, at least, in a great measure to our generous auxiliaries.
Had they not lent us their powerful and timely aid, America, for
anything we can tell, might have still clanked her chain under a
monarchical and despotic sway. Must not a remembrance of their
Leaders, particularly of Fayette, start the tear of gratitude, and of
filial and sympathetic attachment? He generously and nobly
made Columbia s Cause his own. Unhappy man! Happy per
haps he might have continued, had not his philanthropic designs
been baffled in his exertions to put them in execution in his native
country. Disappointed in these, his warmest wishes, behold him
dragging out a more useful intended existence in a loathsome dun
geon!* O wretched, inhuman return for philanthropy the best
services of man!
See vegetable nature all conspire
To make man blest, his ultimate desire :
Yet, mark how erring to great nature s plan,
That man, made wi.se, should be unjust to man!
Whilst our blood can never cease to thrill with indignation for his
*Soon after the revolution in France, an accusation was decreed against him; and
in attempting to escape, he was apprehended in Magdeburg and imprisoned. Heaven
grant, he may have been liberated before this time! 60
60 On the memorable 10th of August, 1792, the populace of Paris rose in arms, attacked
the Palace of the Tuileries, massacred the Swiss guards, and dethroned the king. Lafayette,
who, during the earlier part of the French Revolution, had concurred in the constitutional re
forms decreed by the National Assembly, and who was at this time in command of an army
stationed on the frontiers to oppose the Prussian invasion, now felt his own life to be in peril
from popular violence. He was, indeed, at this juncture, accused of treason by the popular
leaders, and a price was set upon his head. He therefore, on the 17th of August, quitted the
army and the territory of France with twelve officers of rank, intending to proceed to the
United States. They had travelled but a short distance, when they were all taken prisoners
by the Prussians; and Lafayette was put in close confinement in the castle of Magdeburg, once
the abode of Baron Trenck, and was soon after imprisoned in the strong fortress of Olmutz.
To the honor of Napoleon it should be said that one of the articles of the Treaty of Campo
Formio, October 18, 1797, negotiated under the pressure of that conqueror s great successes in
Italy, stipulated for the release of Lafayette, after Washington had interceded for him in vain.
112 THE FEMALE REVIEW
sufferings, may our gratitude and reverence never cool towards
this illustrious but distressed nobleman. May a reciprocity of
friendship and affection conciliate and cement us more strongly
with France, our once helpful and now sister republic. We solicit
England to shake hands with Columbia, her natural offspring.
Let the banners of war be forever furled, the sword of contention
sheathed in its proper place; and may she always forget to prove
inimical to her established Cause. May philanthropy become as
extensive as the nations of the earth. Men shall then quite their
fallacious pursuits, retire to their respective and proper occupations,
and learn humility and propriety of conduct. Then shall mutual
harmony, peace and prosperity pervade the world.
I shall leave our fair Soldier, or as she was frequently called,
the blooming boy, in winter quarters not far from West Point and
the banks of the Hudson, or North River, in what were called the
York huts. She arrived at this place in December, much debilitated
and dispirited by hard marches and fatigues. She was destitute
of shoes, as were most of the soldiers during the march; excepting
raw hides, which they cut into straps and fastened about their feet.
It was not uncommon to track them by the bleeding of their feet
on the snow and ice. 61 And it appeared, their officers fared not
much better; although they used their greatest efforts to soothe,
animate and encourage the soldiers, principally with the prospects
of peace and the great honor they should gain by persevering to
Just before their arrival, one of her company having been
severely chastised for stealing poultry, importuned her to desert
with him and two others. But she not only disdainfully refused,
but used all the eloquence of which she was mistress, to dissuade
them from so presumptive an attempt. Having hazarded one
desperate presumption herself, she chose to take her lot in the
61 There is nothing of this sort in the MS. memoir, nor in Thacher s "Military Journal."
Of course, there is exaggeration here.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 113
present and future ills ; though peradventure her sex might in some
measure have justified her breach of contract. The arguments she
enforced were that it would not only be an evidence of disloyalty
to their country, a token of cowardice, a breach of civil obligation,
but the greatest jeopardy of their lives. As female eloquence is
generally irresistible, they here yielded to its energy : although they
were insensible that it was articulated through female organs.
Having repaired the huts, in which business she froze her feet
to that degree that she lost all her toe-nails, the soldiers were culled,
in order that all who had not had the small-pox might be inoculated.
The soldiers who were to be inoculated, paraded; when our heroine
for the first time, shewed an aversion to it. Determined to hazard
taking this malignant distemper unaware, she would even have
falsified the truth of her having had it, sooner than have gone to the
hospital; where the pride and glory of her sex, the source of the
blooming boy, might have been disclosed. 62
She did duty, sometimes as a common soldier and sometimes
as a serjeant; which was mostly on the lines, patrolling, collecting
fuel, &c. As the winter was very intense, the snow the most of the
time deep, I shall leave it for the considerate to imagine the unusual
hardships of a female in this situation. She went cheerful to her
tasks, and was never found loitering when sent on duty or enter-
62 In the MS. memoir, she says, "Dreading the exposure of my person, and the consequent
discovery of my sex, far more than death, I told a plump lie to the surgeon, in the statement that
I had long since experienced that disease. I preferred to hazard taking the small-pox rather
than go to the hospital. I was therefore excused, and by the favor of a kind Providence escaped
the contagion, though often exposed to it."
Dr. Thacher places the inoculation of the troops for small-pox in January, 1782. Of
course, it took place before her enlistment. He inoculated, he says, about two hundred, in
cluding women and children.
114 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Building of the colonnade on West Point after the opening of the Campaign. Writes to
her mother. A severe skirmish, where she receives two wounds, and is left in the
French hospital. Returns to the army on their lines. Is left with a sick soldier in
a Dutchman s family, who is a Tory and treats her ill. Heroic adventure in her
mode of Retaliation. She and a party, being attacked by a party of Dutch Cavalry,
are obliged to ford a dangerous ferry. The main Army retire to Winter Quarters
at New Windsor. She is one of a detachment sent to reinforce Gen. Schuyler in sub
duing the Indians on the Frontiers above Albany; where a number of horrid scenes
HAVING now furnished a clue by which the succeeding com
mon occurrences of our distinguished Fair, whilst a soldier,
may be gathered, I shall not tire the patience of the reader
in their enumeration. Though, as common as they then were to
her, could they be exhibited afresh by an indifferent female, I am
confident I have not a reader but would think his leisure interims
luxuriantly employed in their recital. But I hasten to a narration
of those on which to dwell must be luxury and wonder; but to pass
them unnoticed, criminal injustice.
Though peace had not longer been anticipated than wished
for, yet the conduct of both armies after the opening of the cam
paign seemed to place it as a matter of extreme uncertainty. The
opening of this campaign was distinguished by the building of a
Colonnade, or rather a Bowery, on West Point. It was begun on
the 2d of May, and completed after about three weeks fatigue.
In this business our heroic Female often worked against the most
robust and expert soldier: and had not the delicate texture of her
frame been concealed, it would doubtless have been judged that
she was very unequally mated.
When this delightful building was finished, the officers held
a meeting of social intercourse and conviviality. The full, spark
ling bowl was here handed cheerfully round. Many toasts of
health and long life were drank to the half-divine Washington
to the true sons of freedom and republicanism to the increase and
THE FEMALE REVIEW 115
perpetuity of our alliance with France, and giving three cheers for
the newborn Dauphin of that realm, they concluded the day. 63
The reader has long enough been in suspense to know what
effect her elopement had on her mother and connections, and what
method she took to pacify, as we may suppose, their half distracted
minds. Though she received her education in obscurity, the news
of her elopement, or among other conjectures, that she had come to
some untimely catastrophe, flew to a great distance. Her mother,
raising a thousand doubts and fears was almost inconsolably
wretched. Sometimes she harbored the too often poignant reflec
tion, that her too rigorous exertions to precipitate her union with
the gentleman I have before mentioned had driven her to some
direful and fatal alternative. The like dire, alternate thoughts
filled her undissembled lover with emotions he could ill conceal.
And like a man of sense and breeding he commiserated each of
their misfortunes. Frantic at times, when reflection had pictured
to his imagination all her frightful groups of ideas and images,
he would curse his too overbearing importunity and too open dec
laration of his passions. These, he too late surmised, were the
cause of her leaving him abruptly (which, by the bye, is the reverse
of common circumstances), and for aught he knew of her casual
exit from all earthly objects; or, that the too warm pressure of his
love had rendered him odious, and that she had too justly punished
63 Dr. Thacher notices the erection of this edifice, and the magnificent festival in it after
it was finished. The festival was on the 31st of May, 1782. About one thousand men were
employed about ten days in the construction of this curious edifice, under the direction of Major
Villefranche, an ingenious French engineer. It was on the esplanade of West Point, and was
composed of the simple materials which the common trees of that vicinity afforded. It was
six hundred feet in length, and thirty in width, supported by a grand colonnade of one hundred
and eighteen pillars made of the trunks of trees. The roof consisted of branches of trees curious
ly interwoven, and the walls were of the same materials, leaving the ends entirely open. "This
superb structure," he says, "in symmetry of proportion, neatness of workmanship, and ele
gance of arrangement, has seldom, perhaps, been surpassed on any temporary occasion." The
festival held in this remarkable edifice was in honor of the new-born Dauphin of France and of
the French alliance. The MS. memoir, from which I have often quoted, describes the edifice
and the festival in exact accordance with the account given by Dr. Thacher; in no less than
twelve instances, using his very words. Of course, this could not be by mere accident.
116 THE FEMALE REVIEW
him by throwing herself into the embraces of a more agreeable rival.
He determined however, were it practicable, once more to see her,
and to congratulate her on her union with a better companlbn
than he could make; or, should she conceive as he once thought she
had, a growing affection for him, he should rejoice to find himself
in the road for that happiness which alone could render his existence
satisfactory, or scarcely desirable.
For this purpose one of her brothers made a fruitless expedi
tion a number of hundred miles to the Eastward among some of
her relations. 64 Her suitor took his route to the westward, and
among his rambles, he visited the seat of war; where he saw his
half adorable object of love. But as fortune, adverse or propitious,
would have it, he knew not that she who appeared in martial at
tire was the tender object who occupied the most distinguished
seat in his bosom. Her eyes were not deceptory; and when she
heard the articulation of her name in his enquiries, it was not be
cause she slighted him, nor because she was enraptured with his
love, that she a second time hastened from his presence. The big
tear trembled in her eye, and when she turned to conceal her emo
tions, she silently and reluctantly bid him adieu. 65
After many wearisome steps and unsuccessful researches, he
returned home; when it was concluded that she must have crossed
the wide Atlantic, or have found an untimely sepulchre in her own
country. She was preserved; and she only could cure the cruel
suspense and racking sensations which [it] would be brutal to suppose
64 This brother went to Meduncook, now Friendship, on the seacoast of Maine, to see
if she had not taken up a residence there with the children of Joshua Bradford, who had mar
ried her mother s eldest sister, Hannah Bradford. See note, page 37. This place is a few
miles west of Penobscot Bay.
65 The account here given is not accurate. Deborah saw him: it is not certain that he
saw her. Some of her comrades told her of the inquiries he was making respecting her. By
this means, also, she actually heard from home; heard that her mother and other friends were
well; that a great excitement had been occasioned by her elopement. She says she felt tenderly
towards him, and would gladly have thanked him for his interest in her welfare; but she did
not speak to him, and would not risk a discovery of herself to him. He therefore returned with
THE FEMALE REVIEW 117
did not pervade their bosoms on this occasion. The mind is scarce
ly capable of picturing a contrast more trying to the tender passions
than this. And no doubt, she allotted her sequestered retirements
to indulge the sorrowing, unnoticed tear; when the anguish of a
mother, of her relatives and of him whose felicity she knew was
perfectly interwoven with her own, took complete possession of her
mind together. After striving a long time in vain to ease the dis
tress of her mother, and to exonerate the too intense burden of her
own mind by writing, she found an opportunity, and enclosed to
her the substance of the following: 66
On the margin of one of those rivers, which intersects and
winds itself so beautifully majestic through a vast extent of terri
tory of the United States, is the present situation of your unworthy,
but constant and affectionate daughter. I pretend not to justify,
or even to palliate my clandestine elopement. In hopes of pacify
ing your mind, which I am sure must be afflicted beyond measure,
I write you this scrawl. Conscious of not having thus abruptly
absconded by reason of any fancied ill treatment from you, or
disaffection towards any, the thoughts of my disobedience are truly
poignant. Neither have I a plea that the insults of man have
driven me hence: And let this be your consoling reflection that I
have not fled to offer more daring insults to them by a proffered
prostitution of that virtue which I have always been taught to
preserve and revere. The motive is truly important; and when
I divulge it, my sole ambition and delight shall be to make an
expiatory sacrifice for my transgression.
I am in a large, but well regulated family. My employment
is agreeable, although it is somewhat different and more intense
66 This letter was doubtless composed, like some of Cicero s orations, long after the time
when it was said to have been written. It is given in the MS. memoir with considerable varia
tion in the words, and in a more ambitious style. It is the composition of Mr. Mann, not of
Deborah Sampson. The style differs not at all from that of the rest of the book.
118 THE FEMALE REVIEW
than it was at home: But I apprehend it is equally as advantageous.
My superintendents are indulgent; but to a punctilio, they de
mand a due observance of decorum and propriety of conduct. By
this you must know, that I have become mistress of many useful
lessons, though I have many more to learn. Be not too much
troubled, therefore, about my present or future engagements; as I
will endeavor to make that prudence and virtue my model for
which, I own, I am much indebted to those who took the charge
of my youth.
My place of residence and the adjacent country are beyond
description delightsome. The earth is now pregnant with vegeta
tion; and the banks of the river are already decorated with all the
luxuriance of May. The cottages that peep over the rising grounds
seem perched like eagles nests; and the nobler buildings, well culti
vated plantations and the continual passing and re-passing of vessels
in the river below, form one of the most pleasingly variegated and
noble prospects, I may say, in the world. Indeed were it not for
the ravages of war, of which I have seen more here than in Mass
achusetts, this part of our great continent would become a paradi
saical elysium. Heaven condescend that a speedy peace may con
stitute us a happy and independent nation : when the husband shall
again be restored to his amiable consort, to wipe her sorrowing tear,
the son to the embraces of his mourning parents and the lover to the
tender, disconsolate and half distracted object of his love.
This letter, being intrusted with a stranger, was intercepted.
Let us now resume her progress in war.
Passing over many marches, forward and retrograde, and num
berless incidental adventures and hardships peculiar to war, I come
to other Memoirs, which must forcibly touch the passions of every
bosom that is not callous to reflection and tenderness of feeling.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 119
The business of war is devastation, rapine and murder. And
in America, these brutal principles were never more horribly exem
plified than in this war. Hence the necessity of scouting ; which was
the common business of the infantry, to which our heroine belonged.
And some time in June of this year, she, with two sergeants, re
quested leave of their Captain to retaliate on the enemy, chiefly
refugees and Tories in New York for their outrageous insults to
the inhabitants beyond their lines. He replied You three dogs
have contrived a plan this night to be killed, and I have no men to
lose." He however consented; and they beat for volunteers.
Nearly all the company turned out; but only twenty were permit
ted to go. 67 Near the close of the day they commenced their ex
pedition. They passed a number of guards and went as far as
East Chester undiscovered; where they lay in ambush to watch
the motions of those who might be on the plundering business.
They quickly discovered that two parties had gone out; and whilst
they were contriving how to entrap them, they discovered two
boys, \vho were sent for provisions to a private cellar in the wood.
One of them informed that a party had just been at his mother s,
and were then gone to visit the Yankees, who were guarding the
lines. Concealing from them that they were Americans, they ac
companied them to the cellar, or rather a cave, which they found
well stored with provision, such as bacon, butter, cheese, crouts,
early scrohons and jars of honey. They made a delicious repast,
filled their sacks and informed the boys they were Yankees; upon
which the cave loudly rung with their cries. Dividing into two
parties, they set out centinels and again ambushed in place called
in Dutch, Vonhoite.
About four in the morning, a large party, chiefly on horseback
and w r ell armed, were saluted by one of the centinels; which was no
sooner done than they returned a number of pistol and fusee shots
67 The MS. memoir says about thirty were permitted to go, and that they belonged to
three different companies. East Chester is four miles east of the Hudson. Tories were nu
120 THE FEMALE REVIEW
at the flash of his gun. 68 A severe combat ensued. The Ameri
cans found horses without riders : they had then light-horse and foot.
Our Gallantress having previously become a good horseman, im
mediately mounted an excellent horse. They pursued the enemy
till they came to a quagmire, as it appeared by their being put to a
nonplus. They rushed on them on the right and left, till as many
as could escaped; the rest begged quarter. The dauntless Fair at
this instant thought she felt something warmer than sweat run
down her neck. Putting her hand to the place, she found the blood
gushed from the left side of her head very freely. She said nothing,
as she thought it no time to tell of wounds, unless mortal. Coming
to a stand she dismounted, but had not strength to walk, or stand
alone. She found her boot on her right leg filled with blood; 69
and in her thigh, just below her groin, she found the incision of a
ball, whence it issued. Females! this effusion was from the veins
of your tender sex, in quest of that Liberty you now so serenely
She told one of the sergeants she was so wounded she chose
rather to be left in that horrid place, than be carried any further.
They all, as one, concluded to carry her in case she could not ride.
Here was her trial! A thousand thoughts and spectres at once
darted before her. She had always thought she should rather die
than disclose her sex to the army! And at that instant, almost in
despair, she drew a pistol from a holster, and was nearly ready to
execute the fatal deed. But divine goodness here stayed her hand:
68 About two in the morning, according to the MS. memoir. The sentinel was stationed
by the party to which our heroine belonged, to give notice of the approach of the party of refu
gees, who, according to the information obtained from the boy, were expected soon to repair
to the d6pot of provisions. The sentinel gave notice by firing his gun; upon which, Deborah s
party fired at the party of refugees, killing several, and putting the others to flight, after a short
but severe struggle.
69 The left leg, according to the MS. memoir. This shows that our author was not
accurate in matters of detail.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 121
and the shocking act and idea of suicide were soon banished by her
cooler reason. 70
Having rested a little, being destitute of any refreshment, her
wounds became excessively painful; but nothing we may judge,
to the anguish of her mind. Coming in view at length of the
French encampment, near what was called Cron Pond, she says,
it was to her like being carried reluctant to the place of execution.
70 "I considered this as a death-wound, or as being equivalent to it; as it must, I thought,
lead to the discovery of my sex. Covered with blood from head to foot, I told my companions
I feared I had received a mortal wound; and I begged them to leave me to die on the spot; pre
ferring to take the small chance I should in this case have of surviving, rather than to be car
ried to the hospital. To this my comrades would not consent; but one of them took me before
him on his horse, and in this painful manner I was borne six miles to the hospital of the French
army, at a place called Croon Pond.* On coming in sight of the hospital, my heart again
failed me. In a paroxysm of despair, I actually drew a pistol from the holster, and was about
to put an end to my own life. That I did not proceed to the fatal act, I can ascribe only to the
interposition of Divine Mercy.
The French surgeon, on my being brought in, instantly came. He was alert, cheerful,
humane. How you lose so much blood at dis early hour? Be any bone broken? was his
first salutation; presenting me and the other wounded men of our party with two bottles of
choice wine .... My head having been bound up, and a change of clothing becoming a
wounded soldier being ready, I was asked by the too inquisitive French surgeon whether I had
any other wound. He had observed my extreme paleness, and that I limped in attempting to
walk. I readily replied in the negative: it was a plump falsehood! Sit you down, my lad
your boot say you tell fib! said the surgeon, noticing that the blood still oozed from it. He
took off my boots and stocking with his own hands with great tenderness, and washed my leg to
the knee. I then told him I would retire, change my clothing, and if any other wound should
appear, I would inform him.
Meanwhile I had procured in the hospital a silver probe a little curved at the end, a needle,
some lint, a bandage, and some of the same kind of salve that had been applied to the wound in
my head. I found that the ball had penetrated my thigh about two inches, and the wound was
still moderately bleeding. The wine had revived me, and God, by his kind care, watched over
me. At the third attempt, I extracted the ball, which, as a sacred relic, I still possess, t
This operation over, the blood was stanched, and my regimentals, stiff enough with blood
to stand alone, had been exchanged for a loose, thin wrapper, when I was again visited by the
surgeon. In his watchful eye I plainly read doubts. 1 told him that all was well; that I felt
much revived, and wished to sleep. I had slept scarcely an hour, when he again alarmed me.
Approaching me on my mattress of straw, and holding my breeches in his hand, dripping from
*Crom Pond, east of Peekskill.
tin the Report of the Committee of Congress, January 31, 1837 (see Introduction, page xxi.i, it is
stated that the ball was never extracted, and "that the effect of the wound continued through life, and
probably hastened her death."
122 THE FEMALE REVIEW
They were conducted by the officer of the guards to an old hospital,
in which was a number of soldiers, whose very looks, she says, were
enough to make a well man indisposed, and the nauseous smell to
infect the most pure air. The French surgeon soon came; who,
being informed of their circumstances, gave them two bottles of
choice wine, and prepared to dress their wounds. His mate, wash
ing her head with rum, told her, he supposed it had not come to its
feeling, as she did not flinch. Judge, my readers, whether this
was not the case, as her other wound so much affected her heart!
the wash-tub, How came this rent? said he, putting his finger into it. I replied, It was oc
casioned, I believe, on horseback, by a nail in the saddle or holster. Tis of no consequence.
Sleep refreshes me: I had none last night. One-half of this, certainly, was true. But I had
less dread of receiving half a dozen more balls than the penetrating glance of his eye. As I
grew better, his scrutiny diminished.
Before the wound in my thigh was half healed, I rejoined the army on the lines. But had
the most hardy soldier been in the condition I was when I left the hospital, he would have been
excused from military duty." [MS. Memoir.]
There is no doubt that she was wounded, as now related; for it is stated in her petition to
the Legislature, and in other authentic memorials. But her petition and her declaration say
that she was wounded at Tarrytown, which place is not mentioned in the foregoing account.
This account locates the skirmish at or near East Chester, four or five miles east of the Hudson;
whereas Tarrytown is situated on that river. The encounter with a party of Delancey s dra
goons, related a few pages back, was therefore the occasion when she was wounded; and the
Female Review is here, as in many other places, inaccurate.
Mrs. Ellet says, "She was a volunteer in several hazardous enterprises; the first time by a
sword-cut on the left side of the head." This must have been in the cavalry encounter at Tarry-
town. "About four months after her first wound, she received another severe one, being shot
through the shoulder. Her first emotion when the ball entered she described to be a sickening
terror at the probability that her sex would be discovered. She felt that death on the battle
field were preferable to the shame that would overwhelm her, and ardently prayed that the
wound might close her earthly campaign.
Many were the adventures she passed through: as she herself would often say, volumes
might be filled with them. Sometimes placed unavoidably in circumstances in which she feared
detection, she nevertheless escaped all suspicion. The soldiers were in the habit of calling her
"Molly," in playful allusion to her want of a beard; but not one of them ever dreamed that the
gallant youth fighting by their side was in reality a female." [Women of the Revolution],
Mrs. Ellet had never seen the Female Review, but received her information "from a lady
who knew her personally, and had often listened with thrilling interest to the animated descrip
tion given by herself of her exploits and adventures." Yet some of Mrs. Ellet s details are un
THE FEMALE REVIEW 123
She requested the favor of more medicine than she needed for her
head; and taking an opportunity, with a penknife and needle, she
extracted the ball from her thigh; which, by that time, had doubtless
come to its feeling.
They never rightly knew how many they killed or wounded.
They took nine prisoners and seven horses, and killed a number of
others on the spot. Of their wounded was Rose, Stockbridge,
Plummer and the invincible Fair. Diston was killed.
After suffering almost every pain but death, with incredible
fortitude, she so far healed her wound unbeknown to any, that she
again joined the army on the lines. But its imperfect cure, had it
been known, would have been sufficient to exempt the most hardy
soldier from duty.
In August, on their march to the lines from Collabarack,*
she requested to be left with a sick soldier named Richard Snow;
mostly because she was unable to do duty with the army, and partly
out of compassion for the poor object, who was sick. 71 But the
fortune of war to her proved adverse. The fears and distress that
here awaited her, were far greater than those when with the army.
The old Dutchman, whose name was Van Tassel, with whom she
was left, was not only a Tory and entertained the banditti, who
plundered the Americans, but refused them all kinds of succor.
When she begged a straw bed for the expiring soldier, he virulently
exulted "The floor is good enough for rebels." They were lodged
in a dirty garret without windows; where the heat rendered it still
*Probably Claverack in the present Columbia County.
71 "About a fortnight after I rejoined my company, I obtained permission to stay and
nurse a sick soldier, whose name was Richard Snow, at a place called Collebarack. Opportu
nity was thus afforded not only for the exercise of humanity to a distressed comrade, but for
the more speedy cure of my wound, which the duties of the camp would not allow to be per
fectly healed." [MS. Memoir.]
It never was perfectly healed.
124 THE FEMALE REVIEW
One night, expecting to become a prey to the relentless cruelty
of the rabble, she charged both their pieces, resolving to sacrifice
the first who might offer to molest. 72 She likewise made fast a rope
near an opening in the garret, by which to make her escape, in
case they should be too many. Thus she continued constant to
him, till almost exhausted for want of sleep and nourishment. On
the tenth night, he expired in great agonies, but in the exercise of
his reason (of which he was before deprived), and much resigned
to the will of God; which may be a consolation to his surviving rela
After Snow was dead, she rolled him in his blanket and sat
at the avenue. 73 She saw a party ride up to the house, and the old
churl go out to congratulate them. They informed, the horses they
then had, with other plunder, were taken from the Americans.
Whilst the house was again infested with their ungodly career, it is
not in my power to describe her melancholy distress in a dark garret
with a corpse. A multitude of cats swarmed in the room; and it
was with difficulty she disabled some with her cutlass, and kept
the rest from tearing the body to pieces. At length she heard foot
steps on the stairs. Her heart fluttered; but her heroism had not
forsaken her. Hastening to the door, she put her hanger in a po
sition to dislocate the limbs of any who should enter. But the
voice of a female, who spoke to her in English, allayed her fear.
It was Van Tassel s daughter, who seemed possessed of humanity,
and who had before often alleviated her distress.
At daybreak, she left the garret; but finding the outer doors
bolted, she was returning, when she again met the young female,
who bid her good morning, and said "If you please, Sir, walk into
my chamber." She followed; and seating themselves by a window,
72 "The rabble" means the Tories, who resorted to the house, and were at the time in the
lower part of the house, revelling in the spoil they had taken from honest people in the vicinity.
"Both their pieces," her gun and the sick soldier s.
73 "After Snow was dead, I wrapped him in his blanket, and seated myself at the open
window to inhale fresh air."
THE FEMALE REVIEW 125
they regaled themselves with a glass of wine and a beautiful, serene
air. After entreating her agreeable guest not to let the ill treat
ment she had received from her father make her forsake the house,
she bordered on subjects that might have enraptured the other
sex. 74 Summoned at this instant by her mother, they withdrew.
Our heroine, with the assistance of two others, buried the
dead; then sat out to join her company. She acquainted the Cap
tain of the toryism of Van Tassel, of his treatment of her, and
thought it best to surprise him. The affair was submitted to her
management. She frequented the house; and having learned that
a gang was to be there at such a time, she took command of a party
and found them in their usual reverie. 75 Some thought best to rush
immediately upon them; but she deemed it more prudent to wait
till their intoxicated brains should render them less capable of resis
tance. At midnight she unbolted the stable doors, when they
possessed themselves of the horses; then rallied the house. They
came out with consternation, which was increased when they were
told, they were dead men if they did not yield themselves prisoners
of war. They conveyed them to their company as such. 76 The
Captain enquired of the gallant Commander, the method of cap
turing them; which she detailed. He gave her a bottle of good
spirits and told her to treat her men. This done, she requested
that the prisoners might fare in like manner. The Captain said
44 Will you treat men who would be glad to murder us?" But she
pleading the cause of humanity, he gave her another bottle. Un-
losing the hands of a sergeant, he drank but in making them fast
74 Instead of the clause, "she bordered on subjects," &c., the MS. memoir has, "I replied
that her father would soon be obliged to leave his house, and his country took uuless he changed
his course. She spoke strongly against her father s Toryism, from which she herself had often
75 For "reverie" read "revelry." The meaning is, the tories were rioting on the plunder
they had taken.
76 Without shedding any blood, our heroine s party captured fifteen Tories and nine
horses, and brought them safely to camp. The MS. memoir spreads this affair over six pages.
126 THE FEMALE REVIEW
again, he acted on the defensive, and struck her to the ground.
She arose, when he made a second attempt; but she warded the
blow. His compeers chided him for his folly, as they had been well
used. He vented many bitter oaths; alleging, she had not only
taken him prisoner, but had caused his girl (meaning Van Tassel s
daughter) to pay that attention to her she once bestowed on him.
He, however, received fifty stripes on the naked back for his in
solence; then was sent to Headquarters, and after trial, to the
Provost, with the rest at West Point.
The beginning of Autumn she, with Lieut. Brown and others,
had a boisterous cruise down the Hudson to Albany on business; 77
soon after, a scouting tour into the Jersies; and she was with the
armies on the 19th of October in their grand Display at Virplank s
Point. 78 I only instance these as parties of pleasure and a day of
jubilee, when compared with the rougher events of \var. 79
We come now to the first of December, when she and a party
were surprised by a party of Dutch cavalry from an ambuscade
and drove with impetuosty to Croton Ferry; where their only al
ternative was that of fording it or of risking their lives with the
assailants: each of which seemed to the last degree dangerous.
Without time for hesitation, compelling a Dutchman to pilot them
on the bar, they entered the watery element ; and by the assistance
77 They could not go "down the Hudson" from West Point to Albany.
78 About the middle of September, there was a grand display of the army at King s Ferry,
on account of the return of Count Rochambeau from the South." [MS. Memoir.]
This review is noticed by Dr. Thacher in his "Military Journal." It was on the 14th of
September, 1782. As usual, the compiler of the MS. memoir borrows some of Thacher s ex
79 On the former of these occasions, the scouting-party, or raid, as it would now be called,
went out to capture Tories, an employment in which our heroine delighted. She considered
them, as they really were, by far the worst enemies of the country. Never did a hunter in
pursuit of game, with the pack in full cry, feel better than did she when in pursuit of Tories.
She says, "I loved to watch by these Tories, and to steal away their dreams. And yet in no
part of my military career have I been more exposed to danger. On this occasion we had little
success, these freebooters having mostly taken refuge within the British lines." This expedi
tion was chiefly in New Jersey.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 127
of that Being who is said to have conducted the Israelites through
the Red Sea, they reached the other shore. 80
They went to the house of the Widow Hunt; who, under pre-
tentions of friendship, sent black George for refreshment. 81 But
our heroine, more acquainted with the cunning of her sex, advised
them not to adhere to her smoothness of speech. Accordingly,
they went back to the ferry ; and they can best describe the wretch
edness of their situation during a cold winter night. In the morn
ing, though the river was frozen, they determined to recross it, lest
the enemy should drive them to a worse extremity. Before they
had two-thirds crossed, the strength of our young Female was so
exhausted that the briskness of the stream, which was in height to
her chin, carried her off the bar; when it was concluded, she was
for ever ingulphed in a watery tomb. As she rose, summoning
the last exertions of nature, she got hold of a string, which they
buoyed to her; and thus providentially regained the bar and shore.
Frozen and languid as they then were, they reached a store; where
not being well used, they burst in the head of a brandy cask, drank
their fill, gave a shoe-full to the negro of the widow, whom they had
before taken; then left him in a better situation than he said his
mistress meant to have left them. She rendezvoused with her
company at Pixhill Hollow. 82
80 "In the second of these expeditions, about the 1st of December," says the MS. memoir,
though it could not have been later than early in November, "We fell into an ambuscade
formed by the enemy s cavalry. Endeavoring to escape, we had no alternative but to ford
Croton River, or risk an engagement with treble our number. We chose to ford the river; and,
compelling a Dutchman to conduct us to a place where the water was but breast high, we reach
ed the opposite shore in safety." Our heroine s party were on foot.
81 "We went to the house of a Widow Hunt, who proved to be a desperate female Tory.
She sent her slave, black George, ostensibly for refreshments, but really to give information
to the enemy, the party whom we had just escaped. During that cold winter night, we were
without shelter, and my wound not yet perfectly healed." They had just forded the river.
Of course, their clothes were drenched with the water, which froze upon them. "Before we
had recrossed the river a large body of the enemy appeared in pursuit," etc.
82 This should be, as in the MS. memoir, "Peekskill Hollow." This was a noted military
post on the Hudson in the Revolutionary War.
128 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Soon after the army retired to Winter Quarters at New Wind
sor, the clarion of war was again sounded for a reinforcement to
assist Gen. Schuyler in subduing the Indians on the frontiers, on to
Saratoga. 83 The officers chose to form their detachment of volun
teers; as the soldiers were worn down with the hardships of war.
Heavens! what will not resolution and perseverance surmount,
even in the fair sex! Our heroine offered her service; though an
inflammation of her wound would have deterred a veteran: it
being an open sore a few days before she crossed the river. 84
Their marches were over the ruins of Indian barbarity. On
their return they flanked into parties, and took different routes
83 According to Thacher s "Military Journal," the left wing of the army, under Gen.
Heath, after a march from Verplanck s Point, reached the vicinity of New Windsor, on the
west of the Hudson, where they were to erect log-huts for winter-quarters, on the 28th of Octo
ber. Dr. Thacher makes no mention of this Indian expedition, though he is careful to note
all passing occurrences, and even the news from a distance.
84 This winter expedition to the Indian country, is, in the MS. memoir, expanded into
twenty-eight pages, which we will not materially abridge.
Soon after the army retired to winter quarters, and therefore in November, 1782, a large
detachment was ordered to proceed to the head-waters of the Hudson, to repress the incursions
which the Indians were making on the white settlements. Our heroine, though not yet fully
recoverd from her wound, volunteered to go. They marched on the banks of the Hudson, and
visited Fort Edward, Fort George, and Ticonderoga. At Fort Edward they found Gen. Schuy
ler, on whom the compiler of the MS. memoir bestows two pages of panegyric. Lake George,
with the scenery around, also Ticonderoga and Crown Point, are described, occupying three
or four pages.
From Ticonderoga the party struck off to the west. The weather had hitherto been fine,
though cold, with little or no snow on the ground. But now they encountered a severe snow
storm, and marched through snow a foot deep; not "three feet deep," as says the Female Re-
vi w. Near the place now known as Johnsburgh, in Warren County, they had an encounter
with a party of about a hundred Indians, who had just been murdering white families, and burn
ing their houses. These Indians fought desperately, but were overpowered, and put to flight.
"We came upon the Indians unexpectedly, at the distance of a pistolshot; and our first
fire dealt terrible destruction among them. Raising their horrid war-whoop, they returned our
fire .... Three of our party were wounded, but not mortally. Fifteen of the Indians
were slain, and many more were wounded. Numbers of the enemy eluded our shots, and made
their escape into the woods. Observing one man, light of foot, entering the forest, I happened
to be foremost in pursuit of him. I had scarcely come up with him, when he cried for quarter.
My first impulse was to bayonet him; but an instant sympathy turned away the pointed steel.
My next thought was, that his imperfect Indian dialect was counterfeit. Thrusting my hand
into his bosom, and making a wide rent in his inner garment, I discovered that he was the child
of white parents, while his face, and his heart too, were as black as those of any savage.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 129
through the wilderness. She was in a party commanded by Capt.
Mills. Not far from Bradport, an English settlement, the snow
having fallen three feet deep, they saw a man fleeing for his life.*
On inquiry, he informed, that the Indians had surrounded his
house, and were then in the heat of their butchery. Hastening with
him to the place, they found the infernals had not finished their
hellish sacrifices. The house was on fire, his wife mangled and lay
bleeding on the threshold. Two children were hung by their heels;
one scalped, and yet alive; the other dead, with a tomahawk in its
brains. They took them. Females, have fortitude. The daunt-
*The shades of evening were now settling down about us. Returning with our captive
white Indian to the general slaughter-ground, a scene of indescribable horror presented itself
to our view. The flames had levelled the house [of the man whom they saw fleeing for his life]
nearly to the earth. The mother lay dead and horribly mangled a few feet from the threshold.
Two children were hung by their heels upon a tree," &c. "While this was going on, a fine little
girl was discovered by her piteous plaints. She had concealed herself under some straw. She
was brought forth, not only stiff with the cold, but having a bad wound in the shoulder from a
tomahawk. At sight of her, the wretched father sunk down upon the snow, as if never again
to rise, exhausted by the loss of blood from his own wound, as well as by the scene that surround
ed him . . .
We now retraced our course to Fort Edward, frequently tinging the snow and ice with our
own blood. Our shoes were worn through, and our clothing torn by the thick undergrowth of
Here two pages are devoted to the tragic story of Jane McCrea, murdered by the Indians,
on the advance of Burgoyne s army, in August, 1777. Six pages are then occupied with a brief
resume of the Northern campaign of 1777, especially the battle of Bemis s Heights, on the 7th
of October; taken from Thacher s "Military Journal" and other histories.
At Albany, the MS. memoir affirms that she was sent for by Gen. Schuyler to visit him at
his residence, and complimented for her distinguished bravery in the Indian expedition. Six
or seven pages are given to this interview, and to the conversation which is said to have there
taken place. One of Gen. Schuyler s daughters, recently married to Col. Alex. Hamilton, is
introduced as detailing to our heroine the friendly reception given by the family to Gens.
Burgoyne, Philips, Reidesel, the Baroness Reidesel, Lady Acland, and their children, after the
surrender at Saratoga, including what was said and done on that occasion. Credat Judaeus
"About the last of January, 1783, we reached the winter-cantonments of the army on the
Hudson, having seen hard service, but without having lost a man. Scarcely had I taken a
night s repose in camp before the expressions hero, champion, victor, applied to myself, ran
currently through my regiment. I have since thought it wonderful that I was not inflated
with pride, which sometimes lifts one above himself into the airy region of fools." Not De
borah Sampson, but Mr. Mann, the compiler of the MS. memoir, is responsible for this lan
guage and the preceding statements.
130 THE FEMALE REVIEW
less of your sex thrust her hand into the bosom of one, and rent his
vesture. The effect was the discovery of his being of the complex
ion of an Englishman, except where he was painted. They sent
him to Head Quarters, but executed the rest on the spot.
Before they reached the army, their feet once more crimsoned
the snow a token of their sufferings. But her name resounded
with plaudits; which would have been enhanced had the discovery
of her sex then taken place.
She goes to live in a General Officer s family. Miscellaneous incidents. Marches with
1,500 men for the suppression of a mutiny among the American soldiers at Philadel
phia. Has a violent sickness and is carried to the hospital in this city. Discovery
of Sex. A young Lady conceives an attachment for our blooming soldier.
IN the Spring of 1783, peace began to be the general topic; and
which was actually announced to Congress. A building was
erected in which the officers held their concerts. It would
contain a brigade at a time for the exercise of public worship. The
timber was cut and dra\vn together by the soldiers, and mostly
sawn by hand. Our heroine worked against any hardy soldier,
without any advantage in her yoke. In its raising, a joist fell and
carried her from a considerable height to the ground; but without
doing any essential injury, except the dislocation of her nose and
On the first of April, Gen. Paterson selected her for his Waiter;
as he had previously become acquainted with her heroism and
85 There is no reference in the MS. memoir to anything of this sort.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 131
fidelity. 86 Cessation of hostilities was proclaimed on the 19th. 87
The honorary badge of distinction, as established by Gen. Washing
ton, had been conferred on her; but for what particular exploit I
cannot say. Her business was here much less intense; and she
found a superior school for improvement.
The General s attachment towards his new attendant was
daily increasing. Her martial deportment, blended with the milder
graces and vivacity of her sex and youth, filled him with admiration
and wonder. Anxious to avail himself of every advantage to in
spire his troops with emulation in the cause of their country, it is
86 "Directly after our return to headquarters, I found myself appointed waiter, or, as the
more courtly phrase is, aide-de-camp, to my much-esteemed general, Paterson, and taken into
his family. This was in consequence of the illness of Major Haskell, who had served as his
Dr. Thacher speaks of Major Haskell as being aide-de-camp to Gen. Paterson, and says he
was a native of Rochester, Mass. It is not very probable that Robert Shurtliffe should have
been taken from the ranks, or from the position of sergeant, which she is said to have held, to
be aide-de-camp to a general officer.
"Waiter" usually means a personal servant. what in modern Army phrase is termed
a "striker." [En.]
"I was furnished with a good horse and fine equipments, and found myself surrounded with
the comforts, and even the elegancies, of life. I no longer slept on a pallet of straw on the damp,
cold ground, but on a good feather-bed. And here, I presume, curiosity will be awake to in
quire whether I always slept alone; and if not, with whom, and on what terms. I will tell the
truth frankly, and challenge contradiction. In the first place, a soldier has not always his
choice of lodgings or of bed-fellows. He often lies down in promiscuous repose with his com
panions, without other partition than his blanket, his knapsack, and his musket.
"But, in Gen. Paterson s family, my couch invited to soft, undisturbed repose, such as I
actually enjoyed. My bed-companions were, sometimes one officer, and sometimes another.
But no one was inferior to myself, either in rank or in virtuous principle, to say the least and
the worst of them. They as little suspected my sex, as I suspected them of a disposition to
violate its chastity, had I been willing to expose myself to them and to act the wanton. If this
explanation is not satisfactory, if any still imagine that in my situation nothing short of a con
tinued miracle could have kept me unpolluted, I must content myself with the inward satisfac
tion which conscious purity and virtue always afford, leaving them to struggle as they may with
their doubts on the subject."
There is reason to believe that all the while she slept alone.
87 The Preliminary Treaty of Peace was signed at Paris, November 30, 1782, but not
published by royal proclamation in London till February 15, 1783. The cessation of hostilities
was proclaimed in the American camp, by order of Gen. Washington, on the eighth anniversary
of the battle of Lexington.
132 THE FEMALE REVIEW
said, perhaps justly, that when he saw a delinquency or faint
heartedness in his men, he often referred them to some heroic
achievement of his smock-faced boy, or convinced them by an ocular
Knowing she had his commendations, she found new stimula
tions for perseverance, and scarcely any injunctions would have
been too severe for her compliance. Hence it seems he was led to
conceive that such an assemblage of courage and refinement could
exist but in the superior order of his sex; and that such a youth was
highly calculated to shine either in the sphere of war, or in the
profession of a gentleman of taste and philosophic refinement.
Thus, Females, whilst you see the avidity of a maid in her
teens confronting dangers and made a veteran example in war, you
need only half the assiduity in your proper, domestic sphere, to
render your charms completely irresistible.
General orders were, every warm season, for the soldiers to go
into the water, as well to exercise themselves in the art of swimming,
as to clean their bodies. 89 These injunctions were so directly in
point, that her compliance with them would unavoidably have been
unbosoming the delicate secret. To have pled indisposition would
have been an argument against her; as the cold bath might have
wrought her cure: and to have intimated cowardice would have
entitled her to less lenity than when before in the Ferry. So, after
lying awake the first night, she concluded to be the first to rise at
roll call. Accordingly, the regiment paraded and marched to the
river. She was expert in undressing with the rest. After they
were mostly in the water, what should ravish her ear but the sound
of a sweet fountain, that percolated over a high rock near the
river s brink. It was thickly enclosed with the aspen and alder.
88 Here belongs the story related in the Appendix, respecting her journey from West
Point to "a place called the Clove."
89 This account is omitted in the MS. memoir It is wholly improbable.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 133
Thither she unnoticed retired. And whilst the Hudson swelled
with the multitude of masculine bodies, a beautiful rivulet answered
every purpose of bathing a more delicate form. Nor were there
any old, letcherous, sanctified Elders to peep through the rustling
leaves to be inflamed with her charms.
One more incident may amuse those ladies, who are fond of
angling. 90 One day, she, with some others, at the ebb of tide, went
to the Hudson for this purpose. Near the boat, she discovered a
beautiful azure rock, well situated for fishing. Too careless of her
famed predecessor s disposition, she disembarked from the boat to
the rock. Soon after, they purposely weighed anchor and left
her surrounded with water. She continued not long before, to her
surprise, as well as the rest, the rock became a self-moving vehicle,
and sat out to overtake her company. Dreading the passage, she
leaped into the water and mire and had many severe struggles be
fore she reached land. The rock proved a prodigious Tortoise.
And lest antiquity should not be cured of credulity and superstition,
[and] thereby enhance the prodigy to their generation that a female
was once a navigator on the back of a Tortoise, that he finally
swallowed her and some time after spouted her alive on the fertile
land; it is only needful to mention that they gaffed him, with much
difficulty towed him reluctant to the shore, and soon after, on a day
of festival, ate him.
This Summer a detachment of 1,500 men was ordered to
march to Philadelphia for the suppression of a mutiny among the
American soldiers. 91 She did not go till four days after the General
90 This unlikely story is also omitted in the MS. memoir.
91 At the close of the war, it was found extremely difficult, and indeed impossible, to pay
off the soldiers of the Continental army. The United States were a nation; but there was no *
national government, only a confederation. Congress did not possess the power of taxation; ,
and no means existed for raising a revenue for national purposes. The powers of government,
so far as any existed, were held by the several States, which were slow to exercise them when
they were likely to bear hard upon the people. Congress had resorted to loans; immense quan
tities of paper-money had been issued during the war, but the Continental currency had de
preciated rapidly, till in the latter part of 1780, it became worthless, and ceased to circulate.
134 THE FEMALE REVIEW
left West Point. She then rode in company with four gentlemen,
and had a richly variegated prospect through the Jersies and a part
of Pennsylvania. In Goshen they were invited to a ball; where she
was pleased to see, especially in the ladies, the brilliancy and polite
ness of those in New England. They were here detained two days
on account of Lieut. Stone, who was confined for a duel with Capt.
Hitchcock, who was killed. 92 She found the troops encamped on a
hill; from which, they had a fine prospect of the city and of the
Allegany, which rises majestic over the intervening country. Here
she had frequent occasion to visit the city, sometimes on business,
and often curiosity led her to view its magnificence. The gentility
of her dress and agreeable mien gained her access to company of
both sexes of rank and elegance.
The storm of war having subsided, an agreeable prospect once
more gleamed on the face of Columbia. But fortune had more dan-
There were therefore no funds, at the close of the war, to pay the troops. The greater part
of them bore the evil with commendable patience, submitting to it as a matter of unavoidable
necessity. In many cases, however, there was discontent, and, in a few cases, as here, open
A small body of Pennsylvania troops Thacher says about eighty encamped at Lan
caster, in that State, in the month of June, 1783, clamored for their pay, rose in revolt, and
marched to Philadelphia, sixty-seven miles distant, determined to enforce their claim upon Con
gress at the point of the bayonet. Arriving in that city on the 29th of that month, they pro
ceeded to the barracks; and being joined by two hundred troops from Carolina, and obtaining
artillery, they marched, with drums beating, to the State House, where Congress was then
assembled. Placing guards at every door, they sent in a message, accompanied with a threat,
that, if their demands were not complied with in twenty minutes, they would proceed to open
The members of Congress succeeded, however, in making their escape, and sent informa
tion of the affair to Gen. Washington, who immediately ordered a detachment of troops on
whom he could rely, fifteen hundred strong, under the command of Major-Gen. Robert Howe,
to proceed to Philadelphia, and to uppress the mutiny. This affair gave occasion for our
heroine to visit Philadelphia. Happily, the insurgents submitted at once. Some of the ring
leaders were tried and sentenced, two to suffer death, and four to other punishment. But Cou-
gress pardoned them all. Dr. Thacher notices this affair. He says, "On the 29th of June, abont
eighty new-levy soldiers of the Pennsylvania line marched to Philadelphia," &c.
92 The duel took place at Goshen. Very likely, it originated in that ballroom. "We
left Hitchcock, who had been a good officer, dead upon the field, and Stone in prison. This de
tained us two days."
THE FEMALE REVIEW 135
gers and toils assigned her. An epidemic disorder raged in the
city: and she was quickly selected a victim, and carried once more
to the hospital with all the horrible apprehensions of her situation. 93
Death itself could scarcely have presented a more gloomy prospect :
and that seemed not far distant, as multitudes were daily carried
to the Potter s Field. She begged not to be left in the loathsome
bunks of soldiers. Accordingly, she was lodged in a third loft,
where were two other officers of the same line, who soon died. Alone
she was then left to condole her wretchedness: except Doctor
Bana 94 and the Matron, Mrs. Parker, whose solicitude she remem
bers with gratitude.
How poignantly must reflection have here brought to her
memory those soft and tranquil seasons, wherein she so often de
prived herself the midsummer s morning dream, to breathe with
the lark the fresh incense of morning! when with hasty steps she
brushed the dews from vegetation, to meet the sun on the rising
grounds*: by which, to catch fresh hints of Creation, and to inhale
Thee, buxom health, from every opening flower! But she is now,
not indeed, like Egyptian mummies, wrapped in fine linen and
laid on beds of spices, but on the naked floor, anticipating the Archer
Death, in all the frightful forms of his equipage.
But at length she was deprived of the faculty of reflection.
The Archer was about to execute his last office. The inhuman
sextons had drawn their allowance, and upon her vesture they were
casting lots. One Jones, the only English nurse, at that instant
93 "A malignant fever was then raging in Philadelphia, particularly among the troops
stationed there and in the vicinity. I was soon seized with it. I scarcely felt its symptoms be
fore I was carried to the hospital. All I distinctly remember was the prospect of death, which
seemed not far distant. I was thrown into a loathsome bunk, out of which had just been re
moved a corpse for burial; soon after which, I became utterly insensible." [MS. Memoir.]
Would the authorities of the hospital have treated in this manner an aide-de-camp of Gen.
94 Dr. Binney, the surgeon of the hospital, is here intended. Dr. Thacher mentions that
he dined in Philadelphia, September 9, 1782, with "Doctor Binney of the hospital."
*Mr. Mann had read Gray s Elegy!
136 THE FEMALE REVIEW
coming in, she once more rallied the small remains of nature and
gave signs of life. The sextons withdrew, and Jones informed the
Matron such a one was yet alive; which she discredited. 95 Doc
tor Bana at that instant entered; and putting his hand in her bosom
to feel her pulse, was surprised to find an inner waist-coat lightly
compressing her breasts. Ripping it in haste, he was still more
shocked, not only on finding life, but the breasts and other tokens
of a female. 96 Immediately she was removed into the Matron s
own apartment; and from that time to her recovery, treated with
all the care that art and expense could bestow. 97
95 "It was not long before I came to some degree of consciousness, when I perceived prep
arations making for my burial. I heard the funeral-undertakers quarrelling about some part
of my clothing, which each of them wished to possess. One Jones, the only English-speaking
nurse in the hospital, coming in, I succeeded, by an almost superhuman effort, in convincing
him that I was still alive. I well remember that he not only threatened these monsters, but
used actual force to prevent their dragging me to the Potter s Field, the place of burial for
strangers. The undertakers at length withdrew, when Jones informed the worthy matron,
Mrs. Parker, that Robert Shurtliffe, a soldier in bunk No. , who had been supposed to be
dead, was actually alive. This she was inclined to doubt. It was said that they came to as
certain the fact. But I know it not; for I had sunk once more into a state resembling death."
96 "They had scarcely retired a second time, when Dr. Binney, the surgeon, visited the
hospital, to whom Jones made known the fact of my partial re-animation. He immediately
came to my apartment, and called me by name. Though I distinctly heard him, I could make
no reply. He turned away for a moment to some other patients. I thought he had left me
again to the ravenous undertakers. By a great effort, I made a kind of gurgling in my throat
to call his attention to me. Never can I forget his elastic step, and apparently deep emotion,
as he sprang to my bed-side. Thrusting his hand into my bosom to ascertain if there were
motion at the heart, he was surprised at finding an inner vest lightly compressing my breasts,
the instant removal of which not only ascertained the fact of life, but disclosed the fact that
I was a woman! He forced, by some instrument, a medicine into my stomach, which greatly
revived me, and caused me to exhibit further signs of life." [ibid.]
97 This remarkable discovery the benevolent surgeon imparted to none but Mrs. Parker,
the matron of the hospital, charging her to confine the knowledge of it to her own bosom. Our
heroine was, after being conveyed to Mrs. Parker s apartment, nursed with the greatest care.
She now slowly recovered; and, as soon as she was able to ride, she was taken to Dr. Binney s
house, and treated with the most delicate attention. As her recovery proceeded, she began to
suspect that a discovery had been made, to her most unwelcome. She could account in no
other way for the tenderness with which she was treated. Her kind friends, Mrs. Parker and
Dr. Binney, were careful to conceal from her the knowledge they had acquired; but it was evi
dent to her mind that they did not expect that she would resume her military attire.
"But in this," says Deborah, "they were mistaken; and so was I mistaken in the use which
THE FEMALE REVIEW 137
The amiable physician had the prudence to conceal this im"
portant discovery from every breast but the Matron. From that
time, the once more discovered female became a welcome guest in
their families. And they recommended her to others, as an object
worthy their attention and affection. But there remains another
event, perhaps, the most unparalleled of its kind, to be unfolded.
A young lady of the suburbs of Baltimore, beautiful in form,
blest with a well cultivated mind, and a fortune, had often conversed
with this illustrious soldier. 98 The gracefulness of her mien, mixed
with her dignified, martial airs, enraptured her. At first she at
tempted to check the impulse, as the effect of a giddy passion;
but at length suffered it to play about her heart unchided. Cupid,
impatient, at length urged his quiver too far, and wounded the
seat of love. O Love! how powerful is your influence! how un
limited your domain! The gallant Solomon could not have com
posed three thousand proverbs and his madrigals to his love, with
out much of your conviviality. The illuminations of Venus were
known in those days. And it was by her rays the Preacher of love
so often strolled with his Egyptian belles in his vineyard, when the
flowers appeared on the earth, the mandrakes gave a good smell,
and the time of the singing of birds had come; when they recipro
cated their love amidst the dews of dawn.
I presumed would be made of the discovery of my sex. Emaciated and pallid, I was intro
duced by the good Dr. Binney to his wife and daughters as a young and gallant soldier who had
met in battle the enemies of our country, and had now risen, as it were, from the bed of death.
This introduction was sufficient to commend me to their warmest sympathies. In their com
pany, I rambled through the streets of the city, attended public exhibitions, sailed upon the
Delaware, and strolled in the groves and flowery meads. The Doctor had no fears of the re
sult. I was admitted as a guest in many wealthy families, still known only as a Continental
98 This love-story is told in the MS. memoir with considerable variation. It is there said
that the young lady, the writer of the ensuing letter, was seventeen years of age, the daughter
of wealthy parents in Baltimore, and now an orphan; that the acquaintance commenced in
September, 1781, during the stay of the American army at Annapolis when on its way to York-
town, and that they became mutually and tenderly attached. The letter in the MS. memoir is
138 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Sufficient it is that this love is preserved, and that it will re
main incontrovertible. And happy it is, that it is not only enjoyed
by the prince of the inner pavillion. It leaps upon the mountains;
and, under the shadow of the apple tree, it is sweet to the taste.
From the moss covered cottage it is pursued, even amidst the thun
ders of war and the distraction of elements. And the nymph of
Maryland was as much entitled to it, as the mistress of him who
had the caressing of a thousand. Hers was sentimental and es
tablished: and she was miserable from the thought that it might
not be interchangeable.
On this account, the productions of her plantation were no
longer relished with pleasure. The music of her groves became
dissonant, her grottos too solitary, and the rivulets purled but for
her discontent. From these she flew in search of him whom her
soul loved, among the bustling roar of the city. And the third
morning after she was confined in the hospital, a courier delivered
her a letter and a handkerchief full of choice fruit. Inclosed was
the substance of the following:
Fraught with the feelings of a friend, who is, doubtless, beyond your conception, in
terested in your health and happiness, I take liberty to address you with a frankness,
which nothing but the purest friendship and affection can palliate. Know, then, that
the charms I first read in your visage brought a passion into my bosom for which I could
not account. If it was from the thing called Love, I was before mostly ignorant of it,
and strove to stifle the fugitive; though I confess the indulgence was agreeable. But re
peated interviews with you kindled it into a flame, I do not now blush to own: and should
it meet a generous return, I shall not reproach myself for its indulgence. I have long
sought to hear of your apartment: And how painful is the news I this moment receive,
that you are sick, if alive, in the hospital! Your complicated nerves will not admit of
writing. But inform the bearer, if you are necessitated for any thing, that can conduce
to your comfort. If you recover, and think prop< r to enquire my name, I will give you an
opportunity. But if death is to terminate your existence there, let your last senses be
impressed with the reflection, that you die not without one more friend, whose tears will
bedew your funeral obsequies. Adieu.
Some have been charmed, others surprised by love in the dark,
and from an unexpected quarter; but she alone can conceive what
effect, what perturbation, such a declaration had on her mind; whose
THE FEMALE REVIEW 139
nearest prospect seemed that of her own dissolution. She humbly
returned her gratitude, but happily was not in want of money,
owing to a prize she in company had found in the British lines, con
sisting of clothes, plate and coin." In the evening she received a
billet inclosing two guineas. The like favors were continued during
her illness. 100 But she knew not in whose bosom the passion vibrat
ed. Her recovery must make the next chapter eventful.
Her critical situation. Commences a tour towards the Ohio with some gentlemen. In
terview with her lover. They meet a terrible tempest. She is left sick with the
HEALTH having reanimated the so much admired Virago,
one might conclude she had business enough on hand: And,
gracious Powers! what had she not on her heart and mind?
Suspicious that a discovery had been made during her illness, every
zephyr became an ill-fated omen and every salutation, a mandate
to summon her to a retribution for her imposition on the maculine
Such embarrassments foreboded the winding up of her drama.
And she was doubtless careful to picture the event in the blackest
colours. A retrospection of her life must have brought, to her mind
a contrast, unknown to many and dreaded by all. But having
stood at helm during the severity of the storm, she concluded, if a
concession must be extorted from her, it might appear less dastard
ly after a beautiful, serene day had commenced; and that it mat
tered little whether it should happen among the insatiable throng
of the city, or the ruder few of the desolate heath. Thus the lioness,
having pervaded every toil and danger from the hounds and hunters,
at length, cornered on all sides, disdaining their fury, yields herself
99, 100 No statements like these appear in the MS. memoir.
140 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Doctor Bana was now waiting a convenient opportunity to
divulge to her his suspicion of her sex. He often found her de
jected; and as he guessed the cause introduced lively discourse.
She had the happiness to recommend herself much to the esteem of
his discreet and amiable daughter. And the Doctor was fond that
so promising a stripling should often gallant them into the city and
country villages. The unruffled surface of a summer s sea was
also often a witness to their pastimes. 101 This rare species of in
nocent recreation was doubtless peculiarly gratifying to the Doc
tor; as his mind could not be more at rest on his daughters account.
Nor need they think themselves chagrined, when it is known they
once had a female gallant; on the strength of whose arm and sword
they would have depended in case of danger.
After she had resumed her regimentals to rejoin the troops,
the Doctor, availing himself of a private conference, asked her,
whether she had any particular confidant in the army? She said,
no; and trembling, would have disclosed the secret: but he, seeing
her confusion, waived the discourse. To divert her mind he pro
posed her taking a tour towards the Ohio with Col. Tupper 102 of
101 By "a summer s sea," here, is meant the River Delaware, on which they sometimes
enjoyed a sail. (See note 97.) Mrs. Ellet here introduces a love adventure between Deborah
and a niece of the doctor, which corresponds with that between the former and the Baltimore
102 Col. (afterwards Gen.) Benjamin Tupper was born in Sharon, then a part of Stough-
ton, Mass., in 1738. He was a private soldier in the "Old French War," from 1755 to 1762.
He was in the military service of his country during the whole Revolutionary War; first as
major, then as colonel, of the Eleventh Massachusetts Regiment. Very soon after the war, he,
with Gen. Rufus Putnam and other officers of the Continental army, united in a plan for the
settlement of what is now the State of Ohio. The journey mentioned in the text may have been
connected with this design. In the summer of 1785, Gen. Tupper went as far as Pittsburgh,
with the intention of making a survey of a portion of the lands in that State, but was prevented
by the unfriendly spirit of the Indian tribes at that time. A survey of seven ranges of town
ships in Ohio was completed in the summer of 1786, under his direction. With two wagons,
one for his family, the other for their baggage, he went all the way from Chesterfield, Mass.,
then his home, to Marietta, Ohio, and, with others, commenced the settlement of that town in
August, 1788. He died in June, 1792. [S. P. Hildreth s Early Settlers of Ohio.]
It is not at all likely that Deborah Sampson accompanied Col. Tupper on such an expedi
THE FEMALE REVIEW 141
Massachusetts, Messrs. Forkson and Graham of Philadelphia;
who were going, partly to contemplate the country and partly to
discover minerals. Knowing the mineral rods were peculiar to her,
he said, whilst the tour might be profitable it might be a restorative
to her health, and an amusement to her mind.
Surprised to find this met her concurrence, he used some argu
ments to dissuade her from it: but finding her unequivocal, he en
joined it upon her to visit his house at her return; which she prom
ised. And about the last of August, they set out from the Cona-
stoga Waggon and went in the stage the first day to Baltimore which
is eighty miles.
Next day, as she was viewing the town, she received a billet
requesting her company at such a place. Though confident she
had before seen the handwriting, she could not conjecture what was
commencing. Prompted by curiosity she went; and being conducted
into an elegant room, was struck with admiration, on finding alone,
the amiable and all accomplished Miss , of about seven
teen, whom she had long thought a conspicuous ornament to her sex.
The lady expressed surprise on seeing him, who, according to report,
had died soon after she left the metropolis. An acquaintance being
before established, mutual compliments passed between the lovers.
The young lady confessed herself author of the anonymous letter. 103
And though uncertain of a concession timorous as a young roe,
yet pliant as the bending ozier, with the queen of love resident in
her eyes, she rehearsed her plaint of love with that unreservedness
which evinced the sincerity of her passion and exaltedness of soul.
The soul is the emporium of love. Their blushes and palpitations
were doubtless reciprocal; but, I judge, of a different nature. But
while this liberal concession was the strongest evidence that she
possessed love without desire of prostitution, and friendship with
out dissimulation; let it be remembered, to her honor, that her
effusions flowed with that affability, prudence and dignified grace,
103 For the letter, see page 138.
142 THE FEMALE REVIEW
which must have fired the breast of an anchorite inanimate na
ture itself must have waked into life, and even the superstitious,
cowled friar must have revoked his eternal vows of celibacy, and
have flown to the embraces of an object exhibiting so many charms
in her eloquence of love.
Thus, ye delicate, who would be candidates for the fruition
of this noble, this angelic passion, it is refinement only that ren
ders your beauty amiable, and even unreservedness, in either sex,
agreeable. The reverse is only a happy circumstance between vice
and virtue. While it there happily preys on every delicate sensa
tion it renders the idea of enjoyment loathsome, and even hurries
delicacy herself into distress.
Had this unfortunate lover uttered herself in an uncouth,
illiterate, unpolished manner, every word would have lost its energy
and all her charms become vapid on the senses. Or, had she as
sumed the attire, the cunning of an harlot the desperate sim
plicity of a young wanton; had she begun her subtle eloquence with
a kiss; and with the poison of asps under her tongue, have repre
sented her bed of embroidery filled with perfume, and finally have
urged that the absence of the good man gave them an opportunity
to riot in the extatic delights of love while our young fugitive
would have needed supernatural means to have answered the de
mands of venerious appetition, the simple might have found
satiety in her seraglio: but Virtue would have continued on her
throne in sullen sadness. But this was not the case. Though sus
pended between natural and artificial confusion though sickness
had abated her acuteness for the soft romances of love; she doubt
less embraced the celestial maid, and wishing herself mistress of
her superior charms, could not but participate in the genial warmth
of a passion so irresistibly managed. Knowledge intermixed with
beauty and refinement, enkindles a warmth of the purest love; and,
like the centre of the earth, commands the power of attraction.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 143
She tarried in this school of animal philosophy the most of two.
days; then promising to visit her in her return, proceeded on her
From Baltimore, passing Elk Ridge, they came to Alexandria
in Virginia. Nine miles below is Mount Vernon, the seat of the
illustrious Washington, which they visited. It is situated near a
bend in the Potomak; where it is two miles wide. The area of the
mount is 200 feet above the surface of the river. On either wing
is a thick grove of flowering trees. Parallel with them are two
spacious gardens, adorned with serpentine gravel walks, planted
with weeping willows and shady shrubs. The mansion house is
venerable and convenient. A lofty dome, 96 feet in length, sup
ported by eight pillars, has a pleasing effect when viewed from thee
water. This, with the assemblage of the green house, offices and
servants halls, bears the resemblance of a rural village; especially
as the grass plats are interspersed with little copses, circular clumps
and single trees. A small park on the margin of the river, where
the English fallow deer and the American wild deer are alternately
seen through the thickets by passengers on the river, adds a ro
mantic and picturesque prospect to the whole scenery. Such are
the philosophic shades to which the late Commander of the Ameri
can Armies, and President of the nation, has now retired from a
tumultuous and busy world.
104 Instead of this rhapsody, take the following, from the MS. memoir: "She received
me with a dignified and yet familiar air. She apologized with infinite grace for overstepping
the acknowledged bounds of female delicacy in making such an overture to a gentleman. She
expressed great pleasure and much surprise at seeing me alive; having been led to suppose,
from an account that reached her not long before, that I had died in the hospital. She con
fessed the tender sentiments of her heart, which had led her to seek this interview ....
What could I do, what could I say, in such an exigency? How should I feel, on receiving such
a declaration from such a heart? I could not act the hypocrite with such an artless girl; nor
could I refuse the affection so warmly proffered, and so delicately expressed. But I could not
then disclose to her the secret I was so anxious to conceal from all the world beside. In this
state of embarrassment I continued the most of two days, and finally compromised the matter
by promising to call on her again on my return from the West."
144 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Their next route was to the southwestern parts of Virginia.*
Having travelled some days, they came to a large river; when the
gentlemen and guide disputed, whether it was the Monongahela,
Yohogany, or the Ohio itself. 105 They concluded to wait till the
fog, which was very thick, should be gone, that they might deter
mine with more precision. But instead of dissipating it increased,
and they heard thunder roll at a distance. On a sudden a most
violent tempest of wind and rain commenced, accompanied with
such perpetual lightning and peals of thunder, that all nature seem
ed in one combustible convulsion. The leeward side of a shelving
rock illy screened them from the storm, which continued to rage
the most of the night. Happily they were preserved, though one
of their dogs became a victim to the electric fire. It is said he was
so near their female companion when killed, that she could have
reached him with a common staff.
Next day the weather was calm. They discharged their
pieces in order to clean them ; the report of which brought to their
view six of the natives in warlike array. Many ceremonies were
effected before they could be convinced of friendship. When
effected, they solicited the guide to follow them; indicating by their
rude noises and actions, they were much troubled. He refusing,
their Adventuress laughed at his caution. 106 One of the Indians,
observing this, ran to her, fired his arrow over her head, took a
wreath of wampum, twined it about her waist, and bade her fol
low. She obeyed; though they checked her presumption. They
conducted her to a cave; which she thinks is as great a natural
curiosity as that of Madison s. They complimented her to enter
*I know not whether it was in this tour, that she visited the famous Cascade in Vir
ginia, Madison s Cave on the North side of the Blue Ridge, and the passage of the Poto-
mak through the same; which is one of the most august scenes in nature.
105 This river proved to be the Shenandoah.
106 "Observing that he [the guide] hesitated, I stepped forward with my gun, and offered
to go in his place, at the same time laughing at his extreme caution. My companions taxed me
with presumption and folly, but I was determined, then and always, not to be a coward."
THE FEMALE REVIEW 145
nearly to the centre, fell on their faces; and whilst the cave echoed
with their frightful yells and actions, our Adventuress, as usual
first; which she durst not refuse. They followed; and advancing
doubtless, thought of home. When they rose they ran to the fur
ther part, dragged three dead Indians out of the cave and laid their
faces to the ground. Then climbing a rock, they rolled down im
mense stones; then whooping, first pointing to the sky, then to the
stones, and then to the Indians, who were killed by the lightning
the preceding day. Having convinced them, she understood it,
and that the mate to a dog with her had shared the same fate, they
conducted her to her company. They told her they had despaired
of ever seeing her again; concluding her scalp was taken off when
they heard the shouting. She jocosely extolled them for their
champion courage, but not for their lenity; as they did not go to
her relief. They all then went to the cave and attended their sav
age, funeral ceremonies.
The Indians went with them up the river, which they con
cluded to be one of the Kanhawas. But in this they were mistaken;
they being too much to the South. They hired one of the tribe
to pilot them 107 over the Allegany. Passing the Jumetta Creek
and the Fork of the Pennsylvania and Glade Roads, about 40
miles from the Jumetta, they came to the foot of the Dry Ridge. 108
Here they found trees whose fruit resembled the nectarine; and
like it, delicious to the taste. Eating freely of it till observing
the Indian did not, they desisted. And happily so; for it came
near proving mortal. Its first effect was sickness at the stomach.
The descendant of her who is accused of having been too heedless
of the bewitching charm of curiosity, puked and bled at the nose,
till she was unable to walk. The Indian was missing; but soon
107 "Two of the Indians we hired as guides over the next range of the Alleghanies, which:
is more lofty and majestic than the Blue Ridge, the range we had already passed. There are
108 The Laurel Mountains, the western range of the Alleghanies.
146 THE FEMALE REVIEW
came with a handful of roots, which, being bruised and applied to
her nose and each side of her neck, stopped the blood and sickness.
Hence they visited a tribe near a place, called Medskar. She
was here so indisposed she could not proceed on the journey. Her
illness proved a relapse of her fever. 109 The pilot interceded with
the King for her to tarry with them till the return of her company ;
which he said would be at the close of one moon. Being convinced
they were no spies, nor invaders, he consented. He then ordered an
Indian and his squaw to doctor her; telling them, the boy would eat
good, when fattened. 110 She remarks that their medicines always
had a more sensible effect, than those of common physicians. Thus
in a short time she recovered. But I shall not attempt to recount
all her sufferings, especially by hunger, but a more intense torture
of mind, during this barbarous servitude.
Her aim was, never to discover the least cowardice, but always
to laugh at their threats. A striking instance of this she exemplified
at their coronation of a new King. Her master, like a hell-hound,
hooting her into the square, where were many kettles of water boil
ing, told her, he was going to have a slice of her for dinner. Being the
only white man (a girl!) among them, she was instantly surround
ed by the infernals. She asked him if he ever ate Englishmen?
He answered, good omskuock! She then told him he must keep
her better, or she should never do to eat. Some understood her;
and giving a terrible shout, first told her to cut a notch in the stone
kalendar, then putting her hands on the king s head, she joined the
dance and fared with the rest. Ladies at a civilized ball may be in
sensible of this scene.
The reader keeps in view, I suppose, that all female courage is
not jeoparded in this manner. I am perfectly enraptured with
those females who exhibit the most refined sensibility and skill in
109 It was a return of the fever she had in Philadelphia.
110 This was said to try her courage.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 147
their sweet domestic round, and who can show a group of well-bred
boys and girls. But I must aver I am also happy, if this rare fe
male has filled that vacuity, more or less in every one s bosom, by
the execution of the worst propensities, for, by similitude, we may
anticipate that one-half of the world in future are to have less goads
in their consciences, and the other, faster accumulating a fund of
more useful acquisition.
A hunting tour. She kills her Indian companion. Comes near perishing in the wilder
ness. Liberates an English Girl, condemned to be burnt. Their return to Phil
URORA had scarcely purpled the East after the coronation,
before a large company, including our Adventuress, sat out for
hunting. 111 She quickly espied a wild turkey on a high tree,
which she killed. Then, with actions peculiar to Indians, they
surrounded her to extol her being quick-sighted and a good marks
man. They encamped that night under an hickory; through which
was a chasm cut sufficient for two to walk abreast. In the morn
ing they divided into parties. An old Indian, a boy and our Ad
venturess composed one. Elate with the beauty of the morning,
the old Indian led off about the sun s rising. Ascending a large
hill, the dogs started a buffalo, which she shot before the Indian
got sight. The boy was much elevated with her alertness: but
the Indian discovered much envy. He however craved the butcher
ing; which she granted, reserving the skin to herself. Making a
hearty meal of the buffalo, they travelled all day, without killing
any more game, except three turkeys.
Night having again drawn her sable curtains, they took lodg
ings under a large sycamore: but she had an unusual aversion to
111 "Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn." [Pope s Iliad.}
148 THE FEMALE REVIEW
sleep as she mistrusted the same of the Indian. At length she
became satisfied he had a fatal design on her life. Feigning her
self asleep, she waited till he had crawled within musket reach of
her; when to her surprise she discovered a hatchet in his hand.
Without hesitating, she leaped upon her feet, and shot him through
the breast, before he had time to beg quarter.
The explosion of the gun awaked the boy, who, seeing his
countryman dead, rent his clothes, whooped and tore the ground
like a mad bull ; fearing he should share the same fate. She pacified
him by observing it was in defence of her own life she had killed
him; and that, if he would conduct well, and promise on his life
to conceal it from his countrymen, he should fare well. He swore
allegiance. And in the morning, they hoisted an old log and left
the barbarian under it.
Behold now a young female, who might doubtless have shone
conspicuous with others of her sex in their domestic sphere, reduced
to the forlorn necessity of roaming in a desolate wilderness; whose
only companion, except wild beasts, is an Indian boy; whose only
sustenance such as an uncultivated glebe affords; and whose awful
prospect, that of perishing at so great a distance from all succors
of humanity! To those who maintain the doctrines of fatalism,
she is certainly a subject of their greatest sympathy. And even
to those who may be unwilling to adduce any other traits in her
life but wild, dissolute freaks of fancy, to be gratified at her option,
she is rather an object of pity than contempt.
At night, almost spent with hunger and fatigue, they lay down
to repose. But they were immediately alarmed by voracious
beasts of prey. Their only safety, and that not sure, was to lodge
themselves in a high tree. The fires they had kindled gained their
approach and encreased their bowlings. The boy was so frighten
ed he ran up the tree like a squirrel. She followed, assisted doubt
less by the same thing. Though drowsy they durst not sleep, lest
THE FEMALE REVIEW 149
they should fall. With the strap of her fusee and handkerchief,
she made herself fast to a limb and slept till day. It rained by
showers the most of the night. After she awoke her second thought
was of the boy. She spoke to him; but he did not answer. Look
ing up at him, she was surprised to see him intently employed in
disengaging his hair, which he had faithfully twined round the
After descending the tree and threshing themselves till they
could walk, they shaped their course for the East; but God only
knows which way they went. Towards night they discovered a
huge precipice, but found it inaccessible till they had travelled
nearly four miles round it. Then ascending, they came to a rivu
let of good water, and by it took their abode during the night. In
the morning they were at a stand, whether to descend, or attempt
to reach its summit. The poor boy wept bitterly; which she says
were the first tears she ever saw an Indian shed. They concluded
on the latter, as their ascent might possibly discover some prospect
of escape. Passing many sharp ledges, they came to a spot of
bear s grass, on which she reclined, thinking the period of her life
was hastening with great rapidity, The following may not be a
rude sketch of her reflections on this occasion:
"Where am I! What have I been doing! Why did I leave my
native land, to grieve the breast of a parent who had doubtless shed
floods of tears in my absence, and whose cup of calamities seemed
before but too full! But here I am, where I think, human feet
never before trod. And though I have relatives, and perhaps,
friends, they can obtain no knowledge of me, not even to close my
eyes when death shall have done its office, nor to perform the last
sad demand of nature, which is to consign the body to the dust!
But stop! vain imagination! There is a Deity, from whom I can
not be hidden. It is He who shapes my end. My soul what think-
est thou of immortality, of the world, into which thou art so rapidly
hastening! No words, no sagacity can disclose my apprehensions.
150 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Every doubt wears the aspect of horror, and would certainly over
whelm me, were it not for a few gleams of hope which dart across
the tremendous gloom. Happy methinks I should be, could I but
utter even to myself the anguish of my mind, thus suspended be
tween the extremes of infinite joy, or eternal misery! It appears
I have but just now emerged from sleep! Oh, how have I employed
my time! In what delirium has the thread of my life thus far been
spun! While the planets in their courses, the sun and stars in their
spheres have lent their refulgent beams perhaps I have been light
ed only to perdition!"
While in this extacy she availed herself of the opportunity to
write to her female companion; and in it inclosed a letter to her
mother, in hopes it might, by means of the boy, reach her.
Dear Miss -,
Perhaps you are the nearest friend I have. But a few hours must inevitably waft
me to an infinite distance from all sublunary enjoyments, and fix me in a state of change
less retribution. Three years having made me the sport of fortune 1 am at length doomed
to end my existence in a dreary wilderness, unattended, except by an Indian boy. If you
receive these lines, remember they come from one, who sincerely loves you. But my
amiable friend, forgive my imperfections, and forget you ever had affection for one so un
worthy the name of
YOUR OWN SEX.
While in this position she heard the report of a gun. Starting
about, she missed the boy and her fusee. She could not recollect
whether he was with her when she sat down, or not. But summon
ing all her strength and resolution, she had nearly reached the
summit of the mountain, when she met the boy. He told her he
fired that she might come to him; but as she did not, he concluded
she would do to eat, and was going to fill his belly with good oms-
kuock. 112 He seemed glad he had found something to relieve them.
Giving her a scrohon and four grapes, he bid her follow him. Com
ing to an immense rock, he crept through a fissure ; and with much
112 It is otherwise in the MS. memoir. "He said he discharged the gun, that I might
come to him; but, as I did not, he concluded that I was dead. Soon after, we found some
ground-nuts," &c. These adventures in the wilderness are related with greater fulness, and in
far better language.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 151
ado, she after him. Here they found wild scrohons, hops, gourds,
ground-nuts and beans. Though mostly rotten, they ate some of
them, and were revived. Then, at a great distance, opening to
their view a large river or lake and vastly high mountains. Whilst
they were contriving how to get to the river, they heard the firing
of small arms, which they answered and had returns.
Descending the precipice, they came to large rocks of isin
glass* and brooks of choice water. At its base they came up with
a large company of Indians, who had been to Detroit to draw blan
kets and military stores. But to her surprise, who should make
one of the company, but a dejected young female! At once she
was anxious to learn her history ; which she soon did at private inter
views. She said she was taken from Cherry Valley had been sold
many times, but expected to be sold no more! Tears prevented
In three days they arrived at the place from whence she first
sat out on hunting. The old chief accused her for having run away
after the Englishmen: and it was the boy, with the interposition of
Providence, saved her life. She here quickly learned that her un
fortunate sister sufferer was to be burnt, after they should have one
court and a pawaw, for letting fall a papoos,f when travelling with
an intense load. At once she resolved to liberate her if any thing
short of her own life would do it. Her plan was thus concerted:
she requested to marry one of their girls. They haughtily refused;
but concluded, for so much, she might have the white girl. Begging
her reprieve till the return of her company, which happened the
next day, they all liberally contributed, and thus paid her ransom.
The poor girl fainted at the news. But hearing the conditions, she
seemed suspended in choice, whether to suffer an ignominious death,
or be bought as a booty to be ravished of her virgin purity : 113 for she
113 She regarded any marriage which could take place under existing circumstances as of
no validity. The Indians had no marriage ceremonies.
THE FEMALE REVIEW
intimated that, among all the cruelties of these savages, they had
never intruded on her chastity. Her intended husband privately
told her, the rites of the marriage bed should be deferred till the
ceremony should be solemnized in the land of civilization. At
night a bear s skin was spread for their lodging; but like a timorous
bride, sleep was to her a stranger. On their return to Philadelphia
they purchased her a suit of clothes; but she, unable to express her
gratitude, received them on her knees, and was doubtless glad to
relinquish her sham marriage, and to be sent to her uncle; who she
said, lived in James City. 114
Arrived at Baltimore, she repaired to visit her companion, who
became much affected with her history. She now thought it time
to divert herself of the mask; at least to divert a passion, which she
feared had too much involved one of the choicest of her sex. After
thanking her for her generous esteem, and many evasive apologies
that she was but a stripling soldier, and that had she inclinations,
indigence would forbid her settling in the world: The beautiful
nymph replied that, sooner than a concession should take place
with the least reluctance, she would forfeit every enjoyment of
connubial bliss: but, she added, if want of interest was the only
obstacle, she was quickly to come into the possession of an ample
fortune; and finally intimated her desire, that she should not leave
114 "The next day, my company [Col. Tupper and the other gentlemen] fortunately
reached the Indian camp, on their return home. The stipulated ransom being paid between
us, we took the liberated girl to Baltimore in our party. There we procured for her a liberal
subscription in apparel and money. Hence we sent her, with a heart overflowing with grati
tude, to her parents, who, we were by accident informed, had removed, just after the surrender
of Cornwallis, to Williamsburg, in Virginia." If this unfortunate maid was taken, as is said
above, from Cherry Valley, she must have been of New England origin, and her parents would
not at this time reside on the James River in Virginia. This story of the captive girl must there
fore be received with some distrust.
115 "No sooner had I returned to Baltimore than an irresistible attraction drew me again
into the presence of the amiable Miss P. . I went with the full determination to confess
to her who and what I was. How should I do this? I resolved to prepare the way for such a
disclosure by endeavoring to weaken, without wounding, the passion in her breast. I told
THE FEMALE REVIEW 153
Touched with such a pathetic assemblage of love and beauty,
she burst into tears, and told her she would go to the northward,
settle her affairs, and in the ensuing spring, if health should permit,
would return; when, if her person could conduce to her happiness,
she should be richly entitled to it.* 116 Thus parted two lovers,
more singular, if not more constant, than perhaps, ever distinguish
ed Columbia s soil.
her I was but a stripling soldier; that I had few talents, and less wealth, to commend me to so
much excellence, or even to repay her regard and the favors he had already conferred on me. I
told her, moreover, that I was about to rejoin the army, with a view to receive my discharge,
and then to return to my relatives in Massachusetts, and to that obscurity from which I had
emerged; but I found I had no power to diminish her regard for me.
While taking her hand, as if to bid her a last adieu, I observed in her an indescribable
delicacy struggling for expression, and mantling her fine features. Never can I forget the ten
der yet magnanimous look of disappointment she cast on me, yet without the least tincture of
resentment, when, still holding her hand in mine, she replied, that, sooner than wring a reluc
tant consent from me, she would forego every claim to connubial happiness. But the artless girl
continued, if want of wealth on my part were the chief obstacle, I might be relieved from all
anxiety on that account, as she was heiress to an ample fortune; it being a legacy which she was
to possess on her marriage with a man whose worth should be found in his person rather than
in his outward estate. I longed to undeceive her. But the secret I had so long carefully
guarded, I could not yet surrender. On parting, she presented me with six fine linen shirts,
made with her own hands, an elegant watch, twenty-five Spanish dollars, and five guineas."
*She has since declared she meant to have executed this resolution, had not some
traits of her life been published in the intervening time; and that this lady should have
been the first to disclose her sex. Before they parted, she made her a present of six Hol
land shirts, twenty five guineas and an elegant silver watch. This she will not blush to
own, if alive; as it was out of the purest regard for her own sex.
116 "It is no matter how I felt, or what I thought, said, or did on this occasion. I could
not, if I would, describe either. I bade her adieu, and staggered to my lodging and to my bed.
But, during the greater part of the night, my invocations to tired Nature s sweet restorer
were as useless as though balmy sleep were never intended to refresh the exhausted body, or
retrieve a bewildered intellect. At length the resolution with which I started when I went to
visit my fair friend the day before to disclose to her the secret of my sex returned. I knew
that this would be right: it was my indispensable duty. On resuming this intention, I fell into
a sweet and tranquil slumber." And then she goes on to relate, with great delicacy of manner,
and at much length, the interview that occurred at the lady s house that morning, in which the
disclosure was fully made, and placed beyond all doubt by an actual inspection. The lady, as
may well be supposed, was greatly astonished: reason, for a time, was well-nigh driven from
the throne; but the final parting was satisfactory on both sides.
"0 Woman! thou bright star of love, whose empire is beauty, virtue, refinement, the world
were dark and chaotic without thee. Misanthropy and grossness would characterize man if
154 THE FEMALE REVIEW
This event, as it is unnatural, may be disputed. It is also
rare that the same passion should ever have brought a woman to
bed with seven children at a birth : And I think eight would rather
be miraculous than natural. But it is said, that though perhaps
the colouring is a little exaggerated, that this is a fact that will ad
mit of incontestible evidence. Nor need females think themselves
piqued to acknowledge it; as no one denies she was not an agreeable
object when masqueraded; which, by the by, I am sorry to say,
is too often mistaken by that sex.
Thus we have a remarkable instance of the origin of that species
of love which renders the enjoyment of life satisfactory, and con
summates the bliss of immortality. The passion entertained by
the sexes towards each other is doubtless from this source ; and will
always be laudable, when managed with prudence. But I appeal
to the lady s own bosom if after discovering her sister, her passion
had not subsided into a calm, and have drooped, like the rose or
lily, on its dislocated stalk. About the third of November they
arrived at Philadelphia. 117
left alone; but in thy presence his heart rises to a pure and holy flame. Thy smile is more power
ful than the conqueror s sword. Thy sway is mightier than the monarch s sceptre. Thou bind-
est man as with the sweet influences of a perennial spring." [Ibid.]
117 As Deborah Sampson received her discharge from the army see in the Introduction
her petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts at West Point, October 25, 1783, here is an
evident anachronism in the text.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 155
Doctor Bana (Binney) gives her a letter to Gen. Paterson, then at West Point. On her
journey there, she is cast away on Staten Island. The letter discloses her sex to
the General. Their interview. She obtains an honorable discharge and recom
mendations. Goes to her relations in Massachusetts. Intrigues with her sex cen
sured. Reassumes the female attire and economy.
ELATED with her transition from a savage wilderness to a
land smiling with agriculture and civilization, her mind was
once more illuminated with agreeable prospects. But a
review of her situation cast an unfriendly group of objects in her
way. A remembrance of the Doctor s queries and injunctions 118
was but recognizing the necessity of a garland of fig leaves to screen
a pearl, that could glitter only without disguise.
On the day of her departure from Philadelphia, he entrusted
118 It does not appear what is meant by this. Dr. Binney had always treated her with
the greatest delicacy and tenderness.
"On my return to the hospitable mansion of Dr. Binney, in Philadelphia, I told him I had
called on him, not to tax his benevolence, which I had already largely experienced, but only
to express my gratitude, and to bid him adieu, while hastening to rejoin the army preparatory
to my discharge and my return home. Every lineament of his countenance beamed with
tenderness and affection as he said, I shall insist on your staying with me at least twenty-four
hours, as necessary to your rest and refreshment, and as much more time for the expression of
the sympathy I feel for you. Had I met at his house my father and mother, and all my rela
tives, I could not have felt more at home. The silence that was observed in reference to my sex
created doubts in my mind whether the doctor was altogether satisfied with the discovery he
had made; and I trembled lest I should be obliged to undergo another personal examination.
When about to depart, the doctor, surrounded by his family, bestowed on me his parting
counsels in a manner so tender, that I must have been from that moment a convert to virtue,
had I previously been otherwise. In conclusion, he said, Take a short prescription as a token
of my regard: Be careful of your health, and continue to be as discreet in every thing as you
have been true to the cause of freedom; then your country will have a wreath of undying fame
for your brow. When you shall have received your discharge from the army, send me a writ
ten sketch of your life. This I partly promised; but, to my shame, I confess that I never ful
filled the promise.
The doctor now put into my hand a large sealed letter, addressed to Gen. Paterson, saying,
Fail not to deliver this: it contains a bequest for you and for him. He then, with his whole
family, accompanied me to the stage-office, where he had already engaged my passage, and
paid the expense of it from Philadelphia to West Point.
About the 12th of October, I arrived at Elizabethtown, in New Jersey." [MS. Memoir.]
156 THE FEMALE REVIEW
her with the care of a letter to Gen. Paterson, then at West Point.
Then taking an affectionate farewell of his family, she sat out for
the place. She went in the stage to Elizabethtown, 15 miles from
New York. The stage boats being gone over, she, with about
twelve others went on board the only one remaining. The skipper
was reluctant to accompany them, as it was late, rainy and a strong
wind ahead. They quickly found the storm increased; and they
had not gone half their voyage before they had the terrible prospect
of the foundering of a boat with nineteen passengers from South
Amboy, bound to New York. Every one was lost. They heard
their piteous cries as the surges were closing over their heads; but
could afford no relief. Nor was their own prospect much better.
It was asked whether it was possible to swim to Staten Island?
It was unanimously negatived: but a few minutes put them to the
desperate experiment. Being nearly in the centre of the channel,
the current rapid, and the storm boisterous, the boat filled with
water and sunk under them. Though nothing but death now
stared them in the face yet those exertions which had before snatch
ed her from his jaws, we may suppose, were not here unemployed.
She had on a large coat, which served to buoy her above the water
though she was often ingulphed in the surges. She was washed
back twice after reaching the soft sands. But fortunately, clasp
ing her arms on a bed of rushes, she held till many waves had spent
their fury over her. Thus recruiting strength, and taking the ad
vantage of the waves, she gained hard bottom and the shore.
On the shore she found others in the same wretched situation,
unable to stand. She lay on her face all night. In the morning,
the storm having abated, she heard Dr. Vickens say, "Blessed be
God, it is day, though I believe I am the only survivor among you
all!" Happily, they were all alive except two; who unfortunately
found a tomb in the watery element. They were soon taken up
by a boat cruising for that purpose, and carried back to Elizabeth-
town. Most of her equipments, a trunk, including her journal,
THE FEMALE REVIEW 157
money, &c., was lost. Her watch and a morocco pocket book, con
taining the letter, were saved. 119
The third day, she had a good passage to New York; 120 from
thence to West Point. Arrived at the General s quarters she seem
ed like one sent from the dead ; as they had concluded the Potter s
Field had long been her home. Her next business was, to deliver
the letter. Cruel task! Dreading the contents, she delayed it
some days. 121 At length she resolved her fidelity should triumph
over every perturbation of mind in the delivery of the letter, and
to apologize for her non-trust. Accordingly, finding him alone,
she gave him the quivering treasure, made obeisance, turned upon
her heel and withdrew in haste. 122
Precisely an hour after, unattended, he sent for her to his
apartment. She says "A re-entrance was harder than facing a
cannonade." Being desired to seat herself, the General, calling
her by name, thus gracefully addressed her: "Since you have con
tinued near three years in my service, always vigilant, vivacious,
faithful, and, in many respects, distinguished yourself from your
fellows, I would only ask Does that martial attire, which now
glitters on your body, conceal a female s form!" The close of the
sentence drew tears in his eyes, and she fainted. He used his
119 Mr. Wyatt, a contributor to "Graham s Magazine," says the watch is still in the
possession of her descendants. We have the authority of Rev. Mr. Pratt for saying that her
canteen, preserved on this occasion, is now in the keeping of a relative of hers at Lakeville,
120 How could a Continental soldier, in full uniform, be allowed to visit New York, when
it was still occupied by the British forces? The British garrison was not withdrawn till No
vember 25, 1783. She certainly did not set foot in New York City at this time.
121 The MS. memoir says she delivered it to him the next morning after her arrival, im
mediately after breakfast.
122 The MS. memoir contains the letter in full. The letter relates the circumstances of
the discovery, made by Dr. Binney in the hospital at Philadelphia, of the sex of the young sol
dier; speaks very highly and tenderly of the individual; and dwells, at considerable length, on
the remarkable features of the case. It is expressed with much delicacy and propriety, and is
just such a letter as might have been written by Dr. Binney, a man of benevolent feelings, to
Gen. Paterson; and it is certainly a creditable production.
158 THE FEMALE REVIEW
efforts to recover her, which he effected. But an aspect of wild-
ness was blended in her countenance. She prostrated herself at
his feet, and begged her life! He shook his head ; but she remembers
not his reply. Bidding her rise, he gave her the letter, which he
continued to hold in his hand. Reason having resumed its em
pire, she read it with emotions. It was interesting, pathetic and
colored with the pencil of humanity. He again exclaimed "Can
it be so!" Her heart could no longer harbor deception. Banishing
all subterfuge, with as much resolution, as possible, she confessed
herself a female. 123
123 "Attempting to rise from my seat, in order to reply, I lost the control both of body
and mind, and had nearly fainted away. Recovering, I made out to say, What will be my fate,
sir, if I answer in the affirmative? You have nothing to fear, he replied. If you confirm the
statements of this letter, still holding the letter of Dr. Binney in his hand, you are not only
safe here, but entitled to our warmest respect.
" Sir, I said, I am wholly in your power. God forbid that I should attempt to conceal
what I suppose is now fully known. I am a Female! But, oh, sir, now that I am weak and
helpless, withdraw not your protection!
"Can it be so? he excliamed, after a short pause, as if still in doubt.
" Sir, said I, I have no desire to deceive you. Procure for me, if you can, a female
dress, an elegant one, I knew, was in the house, and allow me a retired place and a half hour
to prepare myself.
This was immediately complied with .... I was completely equipped, from head to
foot, in a lady s attire, within the appointed time .... Assuming, for the time, some of the
modest, bewitching feminine graces, I returned, and made my entree to Gen. Paterson.
The effect was magical. Never before did I witness ecstasy so complete in man. Re
main as you are, a short time at least, said the general. This is truly theatrical. I will sum
mon Jackson, and see if he knows you.
Col. Jackson was called in, and I was introduced to him as Miss Deborah Sampson. She
is from your own State, the cradle of Liberty; and a fit person she is to rock it till the infant is
full grown. Do you not recognize her?
While I should be proud of an acquaintance with such a character, I have no recollection
of this lady, was the reply.
The conversation then passed to other topics. At length Gen. Paterson asked if any in
formation respecting Robert Shurtliffe had been received. I fear, said Col. Jackson, that
gallant young soldier has fallen a sacrifice to his devotion to liberty.
But there are miracles now, wonders, at least, said the general. Our Revolution is
full of them. But this young lady exceeds them all. Examine her closely, and see if you do not
recognize Robert Shurtliffe!
Imagination may finish the painting of this scene. I will add, however, that in this cos
tume I was escorted by these gentlemen over the tented ground, and amidst officers and sol
diers, with whom, an hour before, I was as familiar as are the inmates of a family with one an
other; but none of them knew me." [MS. Memoir.]
THE FEMALE REVIEW 159
He then enquired concerning her relations; but especially of
her primeval inducements to occupy the field of war! She pro
ceeded to give a succinct and true account; and concluded by ask
ing, if her life would be spared! He told her, she might not only
think herself safe while under his protection, but that her unrivalled
achievements deserved ample compensation that he would quick
ly obtain her discharge, and she should be safely conducted to her
friends. But having had the tuition of her as a soldier, he said,
he must take liberty to give her that advice which he hoped would
ornament the functions of her life, when the masculine garb should
be laid aside and she taken to the embraces of that sex she was then
Immediately she had an apartment assigned to her own use.
And when the General mentioned the event to her Colonel and
other officers, they thought he played at cajolery. Nor could they
be reconciled to the fact, till it was corroborated by her own words.
She requested, as a pledge of her virtue, that strict enquiry should
be made of those with whom she had been mess-mate. This \vas
accordingly done. 124 And the effect was a panic of surprise with
every soldier. Groups of them now crowded to behold a phenome
non, which before appeared a natural object. But as access was
inadmissible, many turned infidels, and few had faith. Her dis
charge is from Gen. Knox; her recommendations from the Gens.
Paterson and Shepard.* 125
124 "Having furnished the gentlemen with an account of my home, my relatives, and the
motives which led me to assume the character of a soldier, I requested them to make the strictest
inquiry into my manner of life since I had been in the army. This was accordingly done. The
result was a general surprise, and, on the part of many, a total disbelief. An apartment was
now assigned for my use, and garments for either sex provided. But, in general, I preferred
my regimentals, because that in them I should be more safe from insult and annoyance. Many
of the soldiers, and many of my own sex, were desirous to satisfy themselves as to the truth of
what they had heard; but, of course, it was impossible to gratify their curiosity."
Thus ends Mr. Mann s narrative of the adventures of Deborah Sampson, in which, for the
sake of greater force and spirit, the heroine herself is made the speaker.
*Since, by misfortune, lost.
125 The Definitive Treaty of Peace between Great Britain, France, Spain, and the United
160 THE FEMALE REVIEW
Being informed her effects and diplomas were in readiness, she
paid her politest respects to the gentlemen, who accompanied
her to the place; and wishing an eternal Farewell to Columbia s
Cause, turned her back on the Aceldama, once more to re-echo the
carols of peace on her native plains. In the evening, she embarked
on board a sloop from Albany to New York: from thence, in Capt.
Allen s packet, she arrived at Providence.
Thus she made her exit from the tragic stage. But how req
uisite was a parent s house an asylum from the ebullitions of
calumny, where to close the last affecting scene of her complicated,
woe-fraught revolution of her sex! With what eager steps would
she have bent her next course over the then congealed glebe to
give a parent the agreeable surprise of beholding her long-lost child
to implore her forgiveness of so wide a breach of duty, and to as
sume a course of life, which only could be an ornament to her sex
and extenuation of her crime! The ties of consanguinity, of filial
States, was signed at Paris, September 3, 1783. A state of peace, however, had actually existed
in America from the 19th of April, in the same year, when a formal proclamation of the cessa
tion of hostilities was made in the army, by order of the Commander-in- Chief. Information of
the Definitive Treaty having been received, the third day of November was assigned by Con
gress for disbanding the army of the United States. The city of New York was evacuated by
the British army, November 25.
On the 25th of October, at West Point, our heroine received an honorable discharge from
the service from the hand of Gen. Knox. Many testimonials of faithful performance of duty,
and of exemplary conduct in the army, were given to her, among others, from Generals Paterson
and Shepard, and Col. Jackson, under whose orders it had been her good fortune to serve.
These papers may not have been preserved.
Mrs. Ellet and some others have stated that the commander of the company in which our
heroine served, on being informed by Dr. Binney that Robert Shurtliffe was a female, sent the
fair soldier with a letter to Gen. Washington, conveying information of the fact; that Washing
ton then gave her a discharge from the army, with a note containing some words of advice, and
a sum of money sufficient to bear her expenses home. A lengthy detail of circumstances is
given in connection with this statement. This account seems to be without any real founda
tion. In her petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts, Deborah says she received her dis
charge from Gen. Knox, as already stated. Nor is it true, as stated by Mrs. Ellet, that, during
the administration of Washington, Deborah received an invitation to visit the seat of Govern
ment, and that during her stay, Congress passed an act granting her a pension, in addition to
certain lands which she was to receive as a soldier. No pension was granted her till January
1, 1803, and then not by Act of Congress. See Introduction, pp. xiii-xvii.
THE FEMALE REVIEW 161
affection and of solemn obligation, demanded this. But being de
prived of these blessings, she took a few strides to some sequestered
hamlet in Massachusetts, where she found some relations: and,
assuming the name of her youngest brother, she passed the winter
as a man of the world, and was not awkward in the common busi
ness of a farmer. 126 But if I remember, she has intimated that
nothing in the villa could have better occupied a greater vacuity,
than the diadem education: which I fondly hope some guardian
cherub has since deigned to bestow.
But her correspondence with her sister sex! Surely it must
have been that of sentiment, taste, purity; as animal love, on her
part, was out of the question. But I beg excuse, if I happen not to
specify every particular of this agreeable round of acquaintance.
It may suffice merely to say, her uncle being a compassionate man,
often reprehended her for her freedom with the girls of his villa;
and them he plumply called fools, (a much harsher name than I
can give them) for their violent presumption with the young Con
tinental. Sighing, he would say their unreserved imprudence
would soon detect itself a multitude of illegitimates! Columbia
would have bewailed the egregious event! Worse, indeed, it might
have been, had any one entered against her not a bill of ejectment,
but a system of compulsion, for having won of her a large bet in a
126 About the 1st of November, 1783, she arrived among her relatives in Massachusetts,
after an absence of a year and six months. During this period, her information respecting
affairs at home had been very limited and vague. Not knowing in what light she might be re
garded by those who had formerly known her, she did not immediately discover herself. She
still wore her military costume, and did not go to Middleborough, where she had passed most
of her life. She went to reside with her uncle in Stoughton, under the assumed name of Ephraim
Sampson, that of the younger of her two brothers, if we may trust the statement made in the
text. But did not her uncle and his family know that the young soldier who spent the winter
with them was not Ephraim Sampson? The supposition is incredible.
The uncle with whom our heroine spent the winter was undoubtedly Mr. Waters, the hus
band of her mother s sister, Alice Bradford. Sharon was formerly a part of Stoughton. It
was during this winter that she became acquainted with her future husband. It is said he was
determined to find out whether the newcomer was a man or not, and to some attempt of this
nature the next paragraph refers.
She passed the winter doing farm work, and flirting with the girls of the neighborhood.
162 THE FEMALE REVIEW
transport of bliss, after Morpheus had too suddenly whirled away
two-thirds of the night still refusing to satisfy the demand!
Blush blush rather lament, ye delicate, when so desperate an
extremity is taken to hurl any of your sisters into hymeneal bliss
To be plain, I am an enemy to intrigues of all kinds. Our
female adept had money; and at the worst could have purchased
friends of our sex: But methinks those who can claim the least pre
tension to feminine delicacy, must be won only by the gentleman,
who can associate the idea of companion without imbibing the
principles of libertinism. Why did she not, after the crackling
faggot had rivalled the chirping of the cricket in the hearth, cau
tion those, who panted not like the hunted hart, to taste the
cooling rivulet that the midnight watch might not have registered
the plighted vows of love! Having seen the world, and of course
become acquainted with the female heart, and the too fatal ave
nues to it; why did she not after convincing them that she lacked
not the courage of a village Hampden, preach to them the necessity
of the prudence and instructions of sage Urania! That they might
have discovered their weakest place, and have fortified the citadel ;
lest a different attack should make a fatal inroad upon their reputa
tion, and transfix a deadly goad through their breasts! Venus
knows not but she did: but they were all females.
Spring having once more wasted its fragrance from the South,
our heroine leaped from the masculine, to the feminine sphere. 127
127 On the approach of spring, Deborah resumed feminine apparel and employments.
On the 7th day of April, 1784, she became the wife of Benjamin Gannett, a respectable
and industrious young farmer of Sharon.* They were married at his father s house in that
*The pedigree of Benjamin Gannett is as follows:
I. Matthew Gannett, 1 born in England, 1618, came early to this country, and settled first in Hing-
ham. In January, 1651-2, he purchased land in Scituate, an adjoining town, and removed to that place.
He died in 1694, as we learn from his grave-stone. He had several children, of whom Matthew 2 re
mained in Scituate, and Rehoboth removed to Morristown, N. J., where he died without issue.
II. Joseph Gannett.2 son of Matthew,* continued to reside in Scituate, and died not long before his
father. He married a widow Sharp.
III. Joseph Gannett, 3 son of the preceding, removed to East Bridgewater about the year 1722.
His brother Matthew^ removed thither about the same time. Josephs married Hannah Hayward,
daughter of Dea. Jonathan Hayward. of Braintree. Their son,
THE FEMALE REVIEW 163
Throwing off her martial attire, she once more hid her form with
Her subsequent history must of course have borne a similarity to those of most of our
countrywomen who cheer and adorn the homes of New England. She lived to rear a family
of reputable children. She had an only son, Capt. Earl B. Gannett, and two daughters. There
are grandsons, we believe, now living in Sharon.
She died at her home in Sharon, April 29, 1827, in the sixty-seventh year of her age. She
sustained to the end the character of a faithful and exemplary wife and mother, a kind neigh
bor and friend.
In stature, Deborah Sampson was five feet, seven inches. She was large and full around
the waist. Her features were regular, but not beautiful. Her eyes were hazel, inclining to
blue; and were lively and penetrating. Her complexion was fair and clear; her aspect was
amiable and serene, though somewhat masculine. Her limbs were well proportioned; her move
ments were quick and vigorous; and her position erect, as became a soldier. Her voice was
agreeable;, her speech, deliberate and firm. The portrait at the beginning is from the old
copper-plate used at the issue of the Female Review, seventy years ago. It was executed
when the art of engraving was in its infancy in this country, and must not be supposed to do
full justice to the subject.
In military attire, ladies considered her handsome. Several instances are recorded where
they were deeply smitten by her good looks. Her delicate appearance, and particularly her
having no beard, were often noticed. She was called the "smock-faced boy," and the like;
but her sex was never suspected.
The prominent traits of her character were courage, love of adventure, and perseverance
under difficulties. She was bold, enterprising, and fearless; she had great self-control, and a
firm, resolute will. As a soldier, she exhibited great alertness, activity, fortitude, and valor.
Her military life abounded with hardy and hazardous adventures, in all of which she bore her
self with the firmness, resolution, and patient endurance which are often thought tc belong ex
clusively to the stronger sex. Where any dared to go, she went; and not to follow merely, but
to lead. She often volunteered on expeditions attended with special exposure and hardship.
It is said that on scouting parties she would always ride forward a little nearer the enemy than
any of her comrades ventured. On one occasion, meeting the enemy suddenly in overwhelm
ing force, it was necessary to abandon their horses, and run across a swamp for dear life. She
then showed herself to be as fleet as a gazelle, bounding through the swamp many rods ahead
of her companions. It was thought that no man in the army could outrun her.
As we have already seen, she went through two campaigns without the discovery of her
sex, and consequently without the loss of her virtue. This fact, which is perfectly well es
tablished, demonstrates not only strict moral principle, but the high qualities of firmness, res
olution, self-control, and perseverance. Such a case, perhaps, was never known before. It
IV. Benjamin Gannett,* born 1728, married, 1750, Mary Copeland, daughter of Jonathan Cope-
land, of Bridgewater, and removed to Stoughton, the part afterwards Sharon.
V. Benjamin Gannett, 5 born 1753 was the husband of Deborah Sampson, the heroine of our story.
Benjamin Gannett,* born 1728, had a brother Joseph,* born 1722, who was the father of Caleb
Gannett.s who was a clergyman in Nova Scotia, afterwards tutor in Harvard College, and for many years
steward of the institution. Caleb Gannett* married a daughter of Rev. Ezra Stiles, D.D., President of
Yale College. They were the parents of Rev. Ezra Stiles Gannett, D.D., of Boston.
Joseph Gannett.s who settled in East Bridgewater about 1722, bad by a second wife, Hannah Brett,
a son Matthew,* born 1755, who was the father of Rev. Allen Gannett, late of Lynnfleld. now of Boston.
[Mitchell s Bridfjewater.}
164 THE FEMALE REVIEW
the dishabille of Flora, recommenced her former occupation; and I
certainly stood alone in the Revolutionary war. She was never found in liquor, a vice too
common in all armies. It is well known that the Continental army, though composed in an
unusual degree of men of principle and virtue, contained many men of unsound character. No
stain appears to have attached to the character of our heroine.
To gratify the curiosity of the multitude, she once visited Boston; and in the theatre, clad
in military attire, she went through, at the word of a military officer, the manual exercise.
Those who witnessed the performance said that "she would almost make the gun talk;" every
time it came to the ground from her hand, the sound was so significant.
Her deportment was eminently soldier-like, and none were more expert in the drill than her
self. Mr. Amos Sampson, who is now living in Charlestown at the age of nearly seventy-nine,
told me that he witnessed the scene, and that it occurred when he was an apprentice to the
printing-business, and therefore between 1801 and 1808. He said, moreover, that it was in the
theatre, and not on the Common, as has been elsewhere represented.
It appears that the remarkable story of Deborah Sampson began to be bruited abroad
very soon after her discharge from the army, before her marriage with Mr. Gannett, and even
before her relinquishment of military costume. The Appendix will contain a notice of this
singular case, as it was published in a New York paper, and afterwards copied into some papers
in Massachusetts. The principal facts in her career were thus published to the world in a little
more than two months after her discharge from the army. These facts could only have been
derived from the officers to whom the disclosure was originally made; perhaps from Gen. Pat-
erson himself. The facts were so remarkable, that there was a strong inducement to give them
to the public. Their publication in Massachusetts must have awakened inquiry respect
ing the heroine, and perhaps led the way to her disclosing the whole story to the author of
the Female Review.
Immediately following the extract to which we have just referred, is the certificate of Col.
Henry Jackson, which further authenticates the case. A certified copy of it is on file in the
office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
The following notice of Deborah Sampson appeared in print several years before her death.
It is taken from the Dedham Register of December, 1820, and was copied into many of the
papers of the day:
"We were much gratified to learn that during the sitting of the court in this town the past
week, Mrs. Gannett, of Sharon, in this county, presented for renewal her claims for services
rendered her country as a soldier in the Revolutionary army. The following brief sketch, it is
presumed, will not be uninteresting: This extraordinary woman is now in the sixty-second year
of her age: she possesses a clear understanding, and a general knowledge of passing events; is
fluent of speech, and delivers her sentiments . in correct language, with deliberate and measured
accent; is easy in her deportment, affable in her manners, robust and masculine in her appear
ance. She was about eighteen years of age when our Revolutionary struggle commenced.
The patriotic sentiments which inspired the heroes of those days, and urged them to battle,
found their way to a female bosom. The news of the carnage which had taken place on the
plains of Lexington had reached her dwelling; the sound of the cannon at the battle of Bunker
Hill had vibrated on her ears; yet, instead of diminishing her ardor, it only served to increase
THE FEMALE REVIEW 165
know not, that she found difficulty in its performance. Whether
her enthusiasm in the sacred cause of liberty, in which she beheld her country engaged. She
privately quitted her peaceful home and the habiliments of her sex, and appeared at the head
quarters of the American army as a young man, anxious to join his efforts to those of his coun
trymen in their endeavors to oppose the inroads and encroachments of the common enemy.
She was received and enrolled in the army by the name of Robert Shurtliffe. For the space of
three years, she performed the duties, and endured the hardships and fatigues of a soldier;
during which time, she gained the confidence of her officers, by her expertness and precision
in the manual exercise, and by her exemplary conduct. She was a volunteer in several hazar
dous enterprises, and was twice wounded by musket balls. So well did she contrive to conceal
her sex, that her companions in arms had not the least suspicion that the "blooming soldier"
fighting by their side was a female; till at length a severe wound, which she received in battle,
which had well-nigh closed her earthly career, occasioned the discovery. On her recovery,
she quitted the army, and became intimate in the families of Gen. Washington and other dis
tinguished officers of the Revolution. A few years afterwards, she was married to her present
husband, and is now the mother of several children. Of these facts there can be no doubt.
There are many living witnesses in this county, who recognized her on her appearance at court,
and were ready to attest to her services. We often hear of such heroines in other countries
but this is an instance in our own country, and within the circule of our acquaintance."
It will be observed that the foregoing account confirms and authenticates the general state
ment made in this volume. There are some errors of detail, which might easily creep into an
account like this, where perfect accuracy was not demanded. The statement that Mrs. Gan
nett served three years as a soldier, originated, no doubt, from the fact that she enlisted for
three years, though her actual length of service was much less.
Under date of June 25, 1859, Rev. Stillman Pratt, of Middleborough, who had become in
terested in her history writes:
"In my recent visit to Sharon, I spent some time at the residence and by the grave of Mrs.
Deborah Gannett, formerly Deborah Sampson. The house was built by Mrs. Gannett, her
husband, and his only son, about fifty years ago, with brick ends, the residue of wood. It is
two stories high. The western portion is literally embowered with willow-trees, one of which
was set out by Deborah herself, and now measures twelve feet in circumference, and almost
constitutes a grove of itself. The eastern portion is covered by a woodbine, which extends over
the roof, and climbs to the top of the chimney. Rose bushes and other flowering shrubs are
interspersed with perennial plants. The barn stands directly back of the house; in the rear
of which rises a sugar loaf mound, of peculiar aspect, extending back towards a dense forest.
The farm consists of a hundred acres of land, with every possible variety of soil. The
mowing lands are irrigated by artificial streams of water, branching off in all directions, and
discharging themselves into a small river below. In the hedges, and along the walls, are rasp
berry and barberry bushes; while fruit and shade trees are promiscuously mingled through the
One mile south of this residence is located the old cemetery. On the tenth row from the
entrance are three plain slate-stone slabs, commemorative of the last resting-place of Mr. and
Mrs. Gannett, and of Capt. Earl B. Gannett, their only son."
166 THE FEMALE REVIEW
this was done voluntarily, or compulsively, is to me an enigma.
But she continues a phenomenon among the revolutions of her sex.
A friend of the publishers of this volume has lately visited the spot, and has enabled them
to furnish the representation of these funeral monuments, which will be found on the following
After Mrs. Gannett s death, the following notice appeared in Niles s Weekly Register, "
vol. xxxii., p. 217, Baltimore, May 26, 1827:
"A Female Veteran. The Dedham Register states that Mrs. Deborah Gannett, wife of
Mr. Benjamin Gannett, of Sharon, Mass., died on the 19th [29th] ult. She enlisted as a volun
teer in the American army of the Revolution, in the Massachusetts corps, having the dress and
appearance of a soldier. She continued in the service until the end of the war, three years,
sustaining an unsullied character, and performing the duties of a soldier with more than or
dinary alertness and courage, having been twice dangerously wounded; though she preserved
her sex undiscovered. At the disbanding of the army, she received an honorable discharge,
and returned to her relatives in Massachusetts, still in her regimentals. When her case was
made known to the government of that State, her full wages were paid, and a considerable
bounty added. Congress allowed her a pension, which she regularly received. Soon after she
resumed the sphere of her own sex, she was married to Mr. Gannett, an industrious, respect
able farmer. She was borne and reared him a reputable family of children; and to the close
of life she has merited the character of an amiable wife, a tender mother, a kind and exemplary
neighbor, and a friend of her country.
Mr. H. Mann, of Dedham, published a memoir of her life some time since, of which the
whole edition, 1,500 copies, has been entirely sold. Another edition may be soon expected,
enlarged and improved, which will probably meet a rapid sale."
This obituary notice was undoubtedly written by Mr. Mann himself; who, if not the editor,
was, I believe, a principal contributor to the Dedham Register at that time. Some of the
expressions in this obituary notice, used in summing up her character, are identical with some
which are employed for the same purpose in the MS. memoir, from which I have so often quoted.
And this very MS. memoir, now in my possession, is, beyond question, the document referred
to in the last sentence quoted above from the Register.
The publishers of the present edition having determined to issue an exact reprint of the
Female Review, it was a matter of necessity to reproduce every sentence and every expression,
however faulty in point of taste, and objectionable in respect of moral sentiment. There are
many passages, there are entire paragraphs, which the present editor would gladly have omit
ted. Many expressions are awkward and ungainly, and do not truly represent the author s
own meaning. For the insertion of such passages, the editor must not be held responsible.
To have attempted any thing in the way of counteraction would have been worse than useless.
The editor is of opinion that Deborah Sampson was worthy of an abler biographer than
she found in the original compiler, and that her adventures, which were certainly very remark
able, were worthy of being related in far better style. J. A. V.
Boston, July, 1866.
Containing Characteristic Traits and Reflections, with Remarks on Domestic Education
FTER delineating the life of a person, it seems natural to re
capitulate, in a closer assemblage, the leading features of his
Perhaps a spirit of enterprize, perseverance and competition
was never more distinguishable in a female, than in Miss Samp
son. And whilst we are surprised that she left her own tranquil
sphere for the most perilous the field of war, we must acknow
ledge it is at least, a circumstantial link in the chain of our illus
trious revolution. She never would accept a promotion while in
the army; though it is said she was urged to take a Lieutenant s
I will here give an instance of her dread of rivalship. It was
soon after she inlisted. Having been reluctantly drawn into a ring
of wrestling, she was worsted ; though it is said, she flung a number.
But the idea of a competitor deprived her of sleep the whole night.
Let this be a memento to Columbia s daughters; that they may be>-
ware of too violent scuffles with our sex. We are athletic, haughty
and unconquerable. Besides, your dislocated limbs are a piteous
sight ! And it seems this was a warning to her : for it was noted by
the soldiers, that she never wrestled, nor suffered any one to twine
his arms, about her shoulders, as was their custom when walking.
And lest her courage has not been sufficiently demonstrated,
I will adduce one more instance, that must surpass all doubt. In
1782, she was sent from West Point, on business, to a place called
the Clove, back of the high hills of Santee. * She rode Capt. Phe-
lon s horse. On her return, just at the close of twilight, she was
*A most singular blunder these "Hills" are in South Carolina.
surprised by two ruffians, who rushed hastily from a thicket, seized
her horse s bridle, and demanded her money, or her life. She was
armed with a brace of pistols and a hanger. Looking at the one,
who held the horse, she said, "F. B. , I think I know you;
and this moment you become a dead man, if you persist in your
demand!" Hearing a pistol cock at the same time, his compeer
fled; and he begged quarter and forgiveness; which she granted, on
condition of a solemn promise ever to desist from so desperate an
It is perhaps sufficiently authenticated, that she preserved her
chastity by a rare assiduity to conceal her sex. Females can best
conceive inconveniences to which she was subject. But as I know
not that she ever gratified any one with the wondrous eclaircisse-
ment, I can only say, perhaps, what more have heard than ex
perienced "Want prompts the wit, and first gave birth to arts."
If it be true, and if "a moment of concealment is a moment of
humiliation," as an anonymous writer of her sex observes, she has
humility enough to bow to the shrine of modesty, and to appear
without disguise, from top to toe.
Since writing these sheets, I have been pained for a few, es
pecially females, who seem unwilling to believe that a female went
through three campaigns without the discovery of her sex, and con
sequently, the loss of virgin purity.*
We hear but little of an open prostitute in the army, or else
where of Collin and Dolly, the milk maid, in their evening saunter
ing to the meadow. Then why should any be so scrupulous of her,
because she did not go in the professed character of a soldier s trull!
Though it is said she was an uncommonly modest soldier; yet, like
you, I am ready to aver she has made a breach in female delicacy.
*"She had no beard," is an objection, to which I know not that this class of readers
can be reconciled. A chaplain, since known in Massachusetts, was once at Gen. Pater-
son s quarters. In the presence of his smock-faced attendant, he took occasion to compli
ment the General "I admire your fare; but nothing more than you very polite atten
dant, who appears to possess the graceful activity and bloom of a girl."
But bring forth her fallacious pretensions to virtue; and I am bound,
as a moralist, to record them as vices, to be guarded against. I
have only to desire this class of my readers to think as favorable as
possible of our sex; but on all accounts to cherish the lovely fugi
tive virtue, in their own. For too much suspicion of another s,
argues too strongly a want of the same charming ornament in them
selves; unless they are old maids, or bachelors.
I shall here make a small digression. As our heroine was
walking the streets in Philadelphia, in a beautiful, serene evening,
she was ravished by the sweet, pensive notes of a piano-forte.
Looking up at a third loft she discovered a young female, who seem
ed every way expressive of the music she made. She often after
listened to the same sounds; and was as often surprised that a sigh
should be blended with such exquisite harmony and beauty. Of
this female, I will transmit to my readers the following pathetic
Fatima was the eldest of three daughters, whose parents had
acquired an ample fortune, and resided in a part of the United
States where nature sheds her blessings in profuse abundance.
But unhappily, their conduct towards them was distinguished, like
that of others, whose fondness so infinitely exceed their prudence.
They were not, however, deficient in many external accomplish
ments. Early was Fatima taught to speak prettily, rather than
properly; to admire what is brilliant, instead of what is solid; to
study dress and pink a la mode; to be active at her toilet, and much
there; to dance charmingly at a ball, or farcical entertainment; to
form hasty and miscellaneous connexions ; to show a beautiful face,
and sigh for admiration; in short, to be amused, rather than in
structed; but at last to discover an ill accomplished mind! This
is beauty in a maze. Such occupations filled up her juvenile years.
Her noblest proficiencies were music, drawing, &c. but an injudicious
choice of books excluded their influence, if they had any, from her
mind. Thus we may conclude her course of education led her to
set the greatest estimate on this external new kind of creature;
whilst her internal source her immortal part, remained, as in a
fog, or like a gem in a tube of adamant.
Nature had been lavish in the formation of Fatima. And on
her first appearance, one must have been strongly impressed in her
favor. But what says the sequel? The invigorating influence of
Venus had scarcely warmed her bosom, when towards the close of
a beautiful, soft day, in her rural excursion, she first beheld Philan
der who had become a gleaner in her father s fields. A mutual
impulse of passions, till then unfelt, fired their bosoms: for Philan
der was much indebted to nature for a polished form; and some
thing uncommonly attracting in his looks seemed to veil the neg
lect of his mind. Unfortunate youth! His parents were poor: and
to add to his misery, they had deprived him of their only, and yet
most important, legacy I mean, the cultivation of his mind. Had
not this been his lot, he might have made himself rich and Fatima
After this, Fatima s chief delight was to walk in the fields, to
see her father s flock, and to listen to the pipe of Philander. Re
peated interviews brought them more acquainted with each other.
Each attempted to steal the lustre of the eye and the crimson blush,
which a too warm constitution could ill conceal. At length, an un
reserved familiarity took place. Both had been taught to love;
and both had missed Plato s and Urania s system, which should
have taught them how. Fatima durst not let her parents know
that a peasant possessed her virginal love. She therefore, under
pretence of regaling herself in the garden, often reserved the keys
that secured its avenues: and whilst the dew distilled its pensive
sweets, the sequestered alcove, or embowered grass plat, too often
witnessed their lambent amours.
One night a night that must ever remain horrible to their
remembrance, and which should be obliterated from the annals
of time Fatima sat at the window of her apartment, to behold,
rather than contemplate, the beauties of the evening. The hamlet
was at rest, when she discovered Philander passing in the street.
Her dishabille too plainly disclosed her charms, when she hastened
with the fatal key to the garden gate, where Philander had just
arrived. The massy door having grated upon its hinges, they
walked a number of times through the bowling-green, till at length,
almost imperceptibly, they found themselves at the door, that led
to Fatima s apartment. The clock struck twelve, when they tip
toed through a number of windings, till they arrived at the cham
ber; which, till then, had been an asylum for the virginity of Fa
It is needless to paint the scenes that succeeded. A taper
she had left burning on her scrutoire, with the rays of the moon,
reflected a dim light on the rich furniture of the room and on the
alcove in which lay, for the last time, the tranquil Fatima! But
this light, feeble as it was disclosed to Philander a thousand new
charms in the fascinating spectacle of so much love and beauty.
Sensuality took the lead of every reasoning faculty; and both be
came instrumental to their own destruction. Philander became
a total slave to his passions. He could no longer revere the temple
of chastity. He longed to erect his fatal triumph on the ruins of
credulous virtue. He saw nothing but what served to inflame his
passions. His eyes rioted in forbidden delights. And his warm
embraces kindled new fires in the bosom of this beauteous maid.
The night was silent as death : not a zephyr was heard to rustle in
the leaves below but Heaven was a recording witness to their
The lost Fatima beheld her brutal ravisher with horror and
distraction. But from that fatal moment, his enthusiastic love
cooled; and he shunned her private recesses and public haunts.
Fatima, to avoid the indignation of her parents, eloped from them.
Her eyes were opened! Many were her wearisome steps to find
an asylum from that guilt, which, through her parents neglect,
she incurred on herself. In vain did she lament that some piteous
cherub had not preserved her to a more propitious fate that she
had not been doomed to a cloistered convent, to have made an
eternal vow of celibacy, to have prostrated herself to wooden sta
tues, to have kissed the feet of monks and to have pined away her
life in solitude! Thus she continues to mourn the loss of that
happiness she lost through neglect of education.
Fatima was in her female attire our heroine was a soldier.
And I should sacrifice many tender feelings to prefer to my Fair
readers the situation of either.
I confess, I might justly be thought a monster to the female sex,
were I willing to suggest that her original motive was the company
of the venal sycophant, the plotting knave, the disgusting, ugly
debauchee: or that her turning volunteer in Columbia s cause was
a meditated plot against her own sex. Oh! this would be too cruel.
Custom is the dupe of fancy: nor can we scarcely conceive what
may not be relished, till the fugitive has worn out every shift.
But let us remember, though it constitutes our esteem and rev
erence, it does not, always, our prudence and propriety. A high
cut robe, for instance, though it may agreeably feast the imagina
tion, may not prove the most prudent garb for every fair object,
who wears it. But in the asylum of female protection, may I not
be thought their meanest votary, should not a humble ejaculation
prevent every robe- wearer from being led
"O er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murder d by ruffian hands when smiling in its sleep!"
It need not be asked whether a proper union of the sexes is
recommendable and just. Nature claims this as her primogenial
and indissoluble bond and national custom establishes the mode.
But to mention the intercourse of our heroine with her sex, would,
like others more dangerous, require an apology I know not how to
make. It must be supposed, she acted more from necessity than
a voluntary impulse of passion; and no doubt, succeeded beyond
her expectations, or desires. Harmless thing! An useful veteran
in war! An inoffensive companion in love! These are certainly
requisites, if not virtues. They are always the soldier s glory; but
too seldom his boast. Had she been capacitated and inclined to
prey, like a vulture, on the innocence of her sex, vice might have
hurried vice, and taste have created appetition. Thus she would
have been less entitled to the clemency of the public. For individ
ual crimes bring on public nuisances and calamities and debauchery
is one of the first. But incapacity, which seldom begets desire,
must render her in this respect unimpeachable.
Remember, females, I am your advocate; and like you would
pay my devoirs to the Goddess of love. Admit that you conceived
an attachment for a female soldier. What is the harm? She
acted in the department of that sex whose embraces you naturally
seek. From a like circumstance we are liable to the same impulse.
Love is the ruling dictate of the soul. But viewing Venus in all
her influential charms did she gain too great an ascendancy over
that virtue, which should guard the receptacle of your love? Did
the dazzling enchantress, after fascinating you in her wilds, in
humanly leave you in a situation ready to yield the pride and
ornament of your sex your white-robed innocence a sacrifice to
lawless lust and criminal pleasure! I congratulate the fair object,
whoever she was, and rejoice with her most sincerely, that she
happily mistook the ferocity of the lion, for the harmlessness of the
lamb ! You have thus wonderfully escaped the fatal rock on which
so many of both sexes (it wounds me to repeat it!) have made ship
wreck of this inestimable prize. You have thus preserved invio
late your coronet of glory, your emblematic diadem of innocence,
friendship, love, and beauty the pride of your sex the despair
and envy of the dissolute incendiary! This is your virginity
that chastity which is such an additional ornament to beauty.
The sun, with all his eclat, which has so often gone down on
your innocence, shall continue to rise with increasing beauty, and
give you fresh satisfaction and delight. Taunt, invective and cal
umny may storm and, tho ycu may dread, you may defy, their
rage. But what will be a still greater source of comfort, old re
flection shall not awfully stare you in the face on your bridal day:
nor remorse steal an imperceptible course into your bosoms; nor,
as with the scorpion s dagger, wound your tenderest place. In
stead of a girdle of thorns, the amaranthine wreath shall encircle
you, and the banners of friendship, love and tranquillity shall ever
hover over you. Whilst others, guilty of a breach in this emblem
of paradise, may escape with impunity the deserved lash of asper
sion from a chaste husband (for there may be chaste men as well
as chaste women), you shall be presented to your partner of life,
an object uncontaminated from the hands of your Creator. And
next to the Giver of all good, he shall extatically hold you in his
embraces, and esteem you as the object of his supreme affections.
As the pure and brilliant dew-drop on the rose and lilly gathers
their fragrance; as the surface of the limpid stream outspreads its
azure flow for curious investigation so, shall your words and actions
be received by all who are round about you. Your children, as
coming from an unpolluted source, shall rise up and call you blessed.
And whilst the dupe and rude in thought shall deign to bow at your
shrine, your worth shall daily be enhanced in your husband s esti
mation. He shall not forget to heap encomiums on your merit,
when he sits among the primogeniture of the land. A mutual ex
change and increase of affection will be perpetuated to you,
through a long series of satisfactory enjoyments even till second
childishness steals upon you, and till time itself dissolves your earth
ly compact, and seals you in the dust. Heaven, the residentiary
mansion of bliss for the faithful and pure, will, at last, condescend
to crown you with a rich reward for your services, for your integrity
and virtue. Females, Adieu!
Columbia demands our review. To stretch the memory
to the momentous Epoch, when the optics of sage Columbus first
lighted on the American shores, and to trace the mazy clue of her
annals from a savage wilderness to the present period, when she
stand confessed, a new star among the nations of the earth an
Elysian field of beauty, must feast the intellectual system with
every idea, perhaps of pain and pleasure. When we remember the
sweat of the brow in the culture of her once stubborn glebe, our
encounters with the tomahawk, and with the more formidable
weapons of death in our late revolution, the breast must be callous
to sensation, that does not own the privileges and felicity to which
we are now exalted have been bought at a rate dear enough to be
We have moulded a constitutional government, at our option.
It also guarantees to us the privilege of making amendments: and
under its continued auspices, what good may we not anticipate?
Scarcely three hundred years have rolled away, since America \vas
a solitary haunt for savages and beasts. But behold now, under
the fostering hands of industry and economy, how she smiles; even
from the magnificence of the city, passing the pleasant country
villas, to the moss-covered cot! The sun of science is gleaming on
her remotest corners; and his penetrating rays are fast illuminat
ing the whole empire of reason. Hail, then, thou happy, radiant
source of beauty! Our progress has indeed been rapid: heaven
grant it may be lasting.
war, thou worst of scourges! Whilst we hear of thy depreda
tions, which are now laying Europe in blood and ashes indeed
Columbia, we think of you! And is there any who are ignorant
of the horrors of war, and thirst for the gratification? Let such be
cautious of their propensities. You have heard, I suppose, that
an Emperor, Cardinal, or a gracious, sable-headed Pope, has issued
an edict, laying claim to a certain territory, to which, nobody ever
mistrusted he was entitled. But the nation has turned infidels to
his creed; and though he is a man of insult, he is not to be insulted.
He collects his forces, and marches to glory; kills millions, gains
his conquest, renews his quarrels and puts others to the sword.
His men are called veterans! What are ours called? A youth, a
female, a young nymph may tell .
And must the scourge of war again cast a gloom over Colum
bia s beauteous surface? Must infernal furies from distant re
gions conspire her ruin? Shall her own sons, forgetful of that
happiness they have purchased so dearly, unmindful of an infinite
variety of alluring objects that surround them, grow wanton in
luxury and indolence, and thirst, like tygers, to imbrue their hands
in the blood of any of the human race? God forbid! For in that
day the beast shall again retire to his lair; the bird shall clap its
well-fledged wing, and bear itself across the ocean; (Heaven grant
it there may have a chance to land)! and the fish shall lie in torpi-
tude, or refuse the angler s bait but all, looking up to that sub
lime and exalted creature, Man, bewail the time he had rule given
But, Columbia, this must never be said of your progeny. It
has been necessary they should encounter the bitters the ca
lamities of war. It now remains, that they taste and long preserve
the sweets of prosperity. The sylvan bard shall compose for you,
his canzonets and roundelays, and the minstrel shall rehearse them
to his tranquil audience, in your silent, green-wood shade. From
the city, the sailor shall quit your beauteous shores with reluctance
and with a sigh. And while old ocean is heaving his barque from
his home, as your lessening turrets bluely fade to his view, he shall
climb the mast and while he is snatching a fond review, reflec
tion shall feast his memory with every pleasurable and pensive
sensation. And though separated from his natal clime by oceans,
climes and nations, his choicest hopes and wishes shall dwell in
his native land.
It remains to authenticate the facts asserted. The following first appeared in a New
York paper, from which it was copied in others, in Massachusetts:
New York, January 10, 1784.
An extraordinary instance of virtue in a Female Soldier has
lately occurred, in the American army, in the Massachusetts line,
viz. a lively, comely young nymph, nineteen years of age, dressed
in man s apparel, has been discovered; and what redounds to her
honor, she has served in the character of a soldier for nearly three
years, undiscovered. During this time, she displayed much alert
ness, chastity and valor: having been in several engagements, and
received two wounds a small shot remaining in her to this day.
She was a remarkable, vigilant soldier on her post; always gained
the applause of her officers was never found in liquor, and always
kept company with the most temperate and upright soldiers. For
several months, this Gallantress served, with credit, in a General
Officer s family. A violent illness, when the troops were at Phila
delphia, led to the discovery of her sex. She has since been honor
ably discharged from the Army, with a reward,* and sent to her
connexions; who, it appears, live to the Eastward of Boston, at a
place, called Meduncook.
The cause of her personating a man, it is said, proceeded from
the rigor of her parents, who exerted their prerogative to induce her
marriage with a young gentleman, against whom she had conceived
a great antipathy; together with her being a remarkable heroine
and warmly attached to the cause of her country, in the service of
which, it must be acknowledged, she gained reputation; and no
doubt, will be noticed in the history of our grand revolution. She
passed by the name of Robert Shurtliffe while in the army, and
was borne on the rolls as such. For particular reasons, her name
is witheld: But the facts, above mentioned, are unquestionable and
*This she has not received. EDITOR. [H. Mann.]
Boston, August 1, 1786.
To all whom it may concern.
These may certify, that Robert Shurtliffe was a Soldier in my
Regiment, in the Continental Army, for the town of Uxbridge in
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was inlisted for the
term of three years that he had the confidence of his officers, did
his duty, as a faithful and good Soldier, and was honorably dis
charged the Army of the United States.
HENRY JACKSON, late Col. in the American Army.
RESOLVE of the GENERAL COURT January 20, 1792.
On the petition of Deborah Gannet, praying compensation
for services performed in the late Army of the United States:
WHEREAS it appears to this Court, that the said Deborah
Gannet inlisted under the name of Robert Shurtliffe, in
Capt. Webb s company in the fourth Massachusetts regi
ment, on May 21, 1782, and did actually perform the duties of a
soldier, in the late Army of the United States, to the 23d day of
October, 1783; for which she has received no compensation. And
whereas it further appears, that the said Deborah exhibited an
extraordinary instance of female heroism, by discharging the duties
of a faithful, gallant soldier; and at the same time, preserved the
virtue and chastity of her sex, unsuspected and unblemished, and
was discharged from the service, with a fair and honorable char
Therefore, resolved, that the Treasurer of this Common
wealth be, and hereby is directed to issue his note, to said Deborah,
for the sum of thirty -four pounds, bearing interest from October
As it is nothing strange that any girl should be married, and
have children; it is not to be expected, that one, distinguished like
Miss Sampson, should escape. The greatest distinction lies in the
qualification for this important business. And, perhaps, the great
est requisite for Education is complete union with the parties,
both in theory and practice. This is remarkably verified in the
party spirits that bring on wars and public calamities. They ex
tend to the remote fireside.
It is hearsay, that Mrs. Gannet refuses her husband the rites
of the marriage bed. She must, then, condescend to smile upon
him in the silent alcove, or grass plat; as she has a child, that has
scarcely left its cradle. It is possible, she experiences, not only cor
poral but mental inabilities; and in mercy to her generation, would
keep it in non-existence. But this is not the part of a biographer.
I am sorry to learn, this is mostly female complaint, and not
authentic, for her nearest neighbors assert there is a mutual har
mony subsisting between her and her companion; which, by the
bye, is generally the reverse with those deprived of this hymeneal
bliss. All who are acquainted with her must acknowledge her
complaisant and humane dispositions. And while she discovers
a taste for an elegant stile of living; she exhibits, perhaps, an un
usual degree of contentment, with an honest farmer, and three
endearing children, confined to a homely cot and a hard-earned
She is sometimes employed in a school in her neighborhood.
And her first maxim of the government of children is implicit obed
ience. I cannot learn, she has the least wish to usurp the preroga
tives of our sex. For she has often said, that nothing appears more
beautiful in the domestic round than when the husband takes the
lead, with discretion, and is followed by his consort, with an ami
able acquiescence. She is, however, of opinion, that those women,
who threaten their children with, "I will tell your father" of a
crime they should correct, is infusing into them a spirit of triumph
they should never know. The cultivation of humanity and good
nature is the grand business of education. And she has seen the
ill effects of fighting, enough to know the necessity of sparing clubs
and cuffs at home. The same good temper we would form in our
offspring, should be exhibited in ourselves. We should neither use
our children as strangers; nor as the mere tools of fanciful sport.
All tampering and loose words with them, are, like playing careless
ly with the lion or tiger, who will take advantage of our folly. In
short, instructions should be infused, as the dew distils; and dis
cipline, neither rigid, nor tyrannic, should rest, like a stable pillar.
How great how sacred are our obligations to our offspring!
Females, who are the the vehicles by which they are brought into
the world, cannot consider, too seriously the subject. Let it not
be delayed, then, till that love, which coalesces the sexes, produces
an object for experiment. Form a pre-affection for the sweet in
nocent, while in embryo that it may be cherished, with prudence,
when brought to view. And may we never have it to lament
that while any females contemplate, with abhorrence, a female,
who voluntarily engages in the field of battle they forget to recoil
at the idea of coming off victorious from battles, fought by their
own domestic firesides! We have now seen the distinction of one
female. May it stimulate others to shine in the way, that Vir
LIST OF SUCH SUBSCRIBERS NAMES FOR THIS WORK, AS WERE RETURNED
TO THE PRINTERS, PREVIOUSLY TO ITS COMING FROM THE PRESS.
Rev. David A very, Wrentham.
Col. Philip Ammidon, Mendon.
Mr. Benjamin Allen, R. I. College.
Armand Auboyneau, Do.
Jason Abbot, Boylston.
Oliver Adams, Milford.
John Whitefield Adams, Medfield.
John Wickliffe Adams, Do.
Charles Aldrich, Mendon.
Ahaz Allen, Do.
Seth Allen, Sharon.
Moses Bullen, Esq. Medfield.
Maj. Noah Butterworth, Wrentham.
Capt. Eli Bates, Bellingham.
Doct. Thomas Bucklin, Hopkinton.
Mr. Nicholas Bowen, Merchant, Providence.
George Benson, Do. Do.
Liberty Bates, R. I. College.
John Baldwin, Do.
Lemuel Le Bararon, Do.
Allen Bourn, Do.
Horatio G. Brown, Do.
Joseph Brown, Byfield.
Jason Babcock, Dedham.
Eli Blake, Wrentham.
Isaac Bennett, Do.
David Blake, Do.
Henry S. Bemis, Stoughton.
George Boyd, Boston.
Amos Boyden, Medfield.
Baruch Bullard, Uxbridge.
Ebenezer Bugbee, Roxbury.
Mr. Nathan Gary, R. I. College.
Judah A. McClellen, Do.
Gaius Conant, Do.
Joseph B. Cook, Do.
Asa Cheney, Milford.
Ichabod Corbett, Do.
Luther Cobb, Bellingham.
John Cobb, Wrentham.
Joseph Cleavland, Do.
Joseph Cleale, Byfield.
Jabez Chickering, jun. Dedham.
Winsow Corbett, Mendon.
George Crane, Stoughton.
Joseph Curtis, Roxbury.
Calvin Curtis, Sharon.
Capt. Isaac Doggett, Dedham.
Lieut. Samuel Day, Wrentham.
Mr. Andrew Dexter, jun. R. I. College.
Paul Dodge, R. I. College.
James Dupee, Walpole.
Joseph Daniels, Merchant, Franklin.
John Dummer, Byfield.
Capt. Amos Ellis, Bellingham.
Mr. Samuel Ervin, R. I. College.
James Ervin, Do.
John Ellis, Dedham.
Aaron Ellis, Walpole.
Asa Ellis, jun. Brookfield.
Ebenezer Estee, Milford.
Samuel Elliot, Byfield.
Hon. Timothy Farrar, New Ipswich.
Amariab Frost, Esq. Milford.
Lieut. Samuel Fuller, Walpole.
Mr. Theodore D. Foster, R. I. College.
Drury Fairbanks, Do.
Ebenezer Fales, Walpole.
Suel Fales, Do.
Shubael Fales, Do.
Elijah Fisher, Sharon.
Ebenezer Foster, Wrentham.
William B. Fisher, Do.
Rev. Thomas Gray, Roxbury.
David S. Grenough, Esq. Do.
Mr. William Green, R. I. College.
Mr. Franklin Green, R. I. College.
Isaac Greenwood, Providence.
Otis Greene, Mendon.
Joseph Gay, Wrentham.
Ephraim Grove, Bridgewater.
John Green, Medway.
Miss Susanna Gay, Wrentham.
Alexander Hodgdon, Esq. Dedham.
Maj. Samuel Hartshorn, Walpole.
Mr. John P. Hitchcock, R. I. College.
Washington Hathaway, Do.
Samuel Hayward, Milford.
Nathan Hawes, Wrentham.
David Hartwell, Stoughton.
Mr. Thomas P. Ives Merchant, Providence
James Jones, Byfield.
Phinehas Johnson, R. I. College.
Jesse Joslin, Thompson.
Mr. Richard King, Byfield.
Asa Kingsbury, Franklin.
Ambrose Keith, Northbridge.
Mr. Grant Learned, Boston.
Laban Lewis, Stoughton.
Miss Alice Leavens, Walpole.
Col. Timothy Mann, Walpole.
Sabin Mann, Medfield.
Capt. Daniel Morse, Brookfield.
Mr. William P. Maxwell, R. I. College.
Elias Mann, Northampton.
Windsor Mainard, Mendon.
Paul Moody, Byfield.
John Messinger, jun. Wrentham.
David Moores, Byfield.
Lewis Miller, Dedham.
Mr. John Nelson, Merchant, Milford.
Mr. Nathaniel G. Olney, R. I. College.
Miss Hannah Orne, Boston.
Doctor Elias Parkman, Milford, 6 copies.
Capt. Abijah Pond, Wrentham.
Deac. Jacob Pond, Do.
Mr. Eleazar Perry, Merchant, Hopkinton.
Samuel Penniman, Milford.
Josiah Penniman, Mendon.
Baruch Penniman, Do.
Abiel Pettee, Dedham.
Adam Ward Partridge, Chesterfield.
Benjamin Randall, Esq. Sharon.
John M. Roberts, A. B. R. I. College.
Mr. John Rogers, Merchant, Cumberland.
James Reed, Stoughton.
Seth Smith, jun. Esq. Norton, 6 Copies.
Ebenezer Seaver, Esq. Roxbury.
Capt. John Soule, Middleborough, 6 Copies.
Mr. John Sabin, R. I. College.
John Simmons, Do.
William H. Sabin, Do.
Jonas Smith, Rutland.
Asa Smith, Brookfield.
Lebbeus Smith, Medfield.
Samuel Smith, jun. Walpole.
John Shepard, Foxborough.
David Southworth, Ward.
Oliver Shepard, Stoughton.
Gordon Strobridge, Northfield, (Ver.)
Miss Lucinda Smith, Norton.
Doct. Ezra Thayer, Swanzey, (N. H.)
Daniel Thurber, Mendon.
Mr. Alvan Tobey, R. I. College.
James Tallmadge, jun. Do.
James Thompson, Do.
Allen Tillinghast, Merchant, Wrentham.
Aaron Thomas, Boylston.
Mr. Alvan Underwood, R. I. College.
Jonathan Upham, Stoughton.
Rev. William Williams, Wrentham.
Mr. Edmund T. Waring, R. I. College.
Conrade Webb, Do.
William H. Williams, Do.
Nathaniel Willis, Boston.
Joseph Ware, Medway.
Obed Wheelock, Milford.
Abner Wight, Do.
Moses Woodman, Byfield.
Miss Hannah Wight, Foxborough.
The following were returned too late to be inserted in order.
Capt. John Bliss, Springfield.
Lieut. Samuel Bolter, Northampton.
Mr. John Breck, Merchant, Do.
Mrs. Sarah Chandler, Boston.
Jonathan Dwight, Att. at Law, Springfield.
Benjamin A. Edwards, Q. M. Northampton.
Mr. William Ely, Springfield.
Daniel Fay, Westbury.
Jonathan Grout, Att. at Law, Belcherstown.
Ebenezer Hunt, jun. M.D. Northampton.
Mr. David Hunt, Merchant, Do.
Jacob Hunt, Do.
William Hutchens, Do.
John W. Hooker, Springfield.
Mr. James Ingols, Northampton.
Samuel King, jun. Do.
Levi Lyman, Esq. Do.
Maj. Samuel Lyman, Do.
Daniel Lombard, Merchant, Springfield.
Lieut. Moses Parsons, jun. Northampton.
Mr. Seth Pomeroy, Do.
Nathaniel Patten, Hartford.
Doct. George Rogers, Northampton.
Solomon Stoddard, Esq. Do.
Mr. Nathan Stores, Do.
Levi Shepard, Merchant, Do.
Charles Steele, Boston.
Caleb Smith, Hadley.
Mr. Jacob Wicker, Northampton.
Alden, John, 35. Sarah, ib.
Arcade at West Point, 114.
Assembly s Catechism, 47 : 74.
Austin, Benjamin, 14.
Baltimore lady falls in love with R. Shurtliffe,
137; her letter, 138; interview between
them, 141, 143; another interview and
final disclosure, 152-154.
Barrett, Joseph H., 14.
Battle of Lexington and Concord, 63; of
Bunker Hill, 65-71.
Battles, James, killed, 102.
Beebe, John, killed, 102.
Binney, Dr., surgeon of the hospital at
Philadelphia, discovers Robert Shurtliffe
to be a woman, 136; proposes a western
tour, 140; his generous conduct, 136, 137,
155. 156, 158.
Bourne, Abner, 74.
Bradford, Alice, 37, 161; Deborah, 37; Elisha,
136; Israel, ib.; Joseph, ib.; Joshua, ib.;
William, 36, 37.
Brownell, Mrs., her heroism, 23.
"Buckeye," whence the term, 101.
Camp, Rev. Abraham, 75.
Capture of two British redoubts at Yorktown,
Catechism, the Assembly s, taught, 47, 74.
Charlestown burned, 67.
Colburn, Jeremiah, 14.
Cole, Hannah, 36.
Conant, Rev. Sylvanus, 47.
Corbin, Margaret, 22.
Cornwallis, Lord, 13, 16, 20, 103; surrender
Cushman, Benjamin, 39; Jacob, ib.
Cushman, Pauline, her adventures, 23.
Dearborn, Henry, 14.
DeGrasse, Count, 104..
Delancy, Col., 101, 122.
Dewey, Sarah, 97.
Drake, Samuel G., 90.
"Dutch Cavalry," encounter with, 100.
Ellet, Elizabeth F., 8, 12, 20, 22, 122; her
mistakes, 12, 95, 140, 160.
Ellis, William, his statements respecting Mrs.
Gannett, 16, 24.
Eustis, Dr. William, 18.
Female heroism, instances of, 22, 24.
Force, Peter, 24.
Fuller, Rev. Samuel, 75.
Gannett, Benjamin, husband of Deborah
Sampson, 14-18, 166; pedigree of, 162;
his grave-stone, 308.
Gannett, Caleb, 162.
Gannett, Earl B., 162; his grave-stone, 308.
Gannett, Rev. Ezra S., 163.
Gardner, Col. Thomas, mortally wounded
at Bunker Hill, 69.
Glover, Gen. John, 101.
Grave-stones of Mr. and Mrs. Gannett and
their son, 308.
Gould, Jeremiah, 16.
Hale, Mrs. Sarah J., 8.
Hamlin, Effrican, 18.
Hancock, John, 18.
Hitchborn, Benjamin, 18.
Hobart, Rev. Peter, 36.
Hunt, Rev. Asa, 75.
Instances of female heroism, 22-24.
Jackson, Col. Henry, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 96-
account of him, 103; his certificate in favor
of R. Shurtleff, 103, 180.
Jackson, William, 16.
Jane of Montfort, 24.
Joan of Arc, 24.
Knox, Gen. Henry, 18, 160.
Lafayette, 103, 106, 108; denounced by the
revolutionary leaders in France, 111; his
imprisonment and release, 111.
LeBroche, Bathsheba, 36, 37.
Leonard, Benjamin, 90; Daniel, ib.; Samuel,
Lucas, Joanna, 36.
Mann, Herman, author of "The Female Re
view," 8; the younger, 10; not always
trustworthy, 76, 88, 94, 98, 108, 110, 117,
121, 129, 152, 161; borrows largely from
Thacher s "Military Journal," 103, 115,
May, Dorothy, 36.
Mayfloiver, the, 35, 36.
McFarland, Elijah, 37.
Monmouth, battle of, 22.
Moore, Major Willard, fell at Bunker Hill,
Morton, Marcus, 13.
Parker, Col. Moses, at Bunker Hill, 69.
Parsons, P. 16.
Paterson, Gen. John, 96, 130, 156-8; De
borah s sex disclosed to him, 157-59;
probably disclosed it to others, 164.
Pension office, documents from, 12-14.
Pomeroy, Gen. Seth, a volunteer at Bunker
Pratt, Rev. Stillman, 12, 90; visits the resi
dence and grave of Mrs. Deborah Gannett,
Prescott, Col. William, commands at Bun-
Putnam, Gen. Israel, at Bunker Hill, 66.
Report of a committee of Congress respecting
Deborah Sampson, 15.
Resolve of Legislature of Massachusetts
respecting Deborah Sampson, 18, 180.
Revival of religion in Middleborough, 74,
Rhoades, Benjamin, 16.
Robinson, Rev. John, of Leyden, 35-6
Rochambeau, Count, 104.
Sampson, Abraham, 35; Ephraim, 39, 161;
Henry, 35; Isaac, 35; Jonathan, 36, 38.
Sampson, Deborah, her story in brief, 8-9,
When did she enlist? 12, 14, 16, 17-21,
98. Applies for a pension, 12-13 Obtains
a pension, 14, A pension granted to her
heirs, 15. Report of the committee on
Pensions relative to her case, 15. Her
petition to the Legislature of Massa
chusetts, 17. Resolve of the Legislature,
18. Action of the church in Middleborough
on her case, 21. Her autograph, 18. Her
character, 24, 82, 164-6. Her pedigree,
35-38. Her childhood, 40-44. Her home
in childhood, 45. Her thirst for knowledge,
45-50. Her slight opportunities, 46-50.
Her early training, 44-46. Her interest
in public affairs, 56-58, 70, 80, 85-6. Her
remarkable dream, 59-62. Her girlhood,
73. Teaches school, 73-4, 181. Becomes
interested in religion, and joins the church,
74. Is excommunicated, 21. Dissatisfied
with home employments, 81-2. Desires to
travel, 83. Resolves to see the world, 84.
A day-dreamer, 83. First assumption of
male attire, 83. Visits a fortune-teller, 84.
Secretly prepares for her departure, 85.
Resolves to enlist as a soldier, 90. Un
requited affection of a young man for her,
88. First enlistment as a soldier, 90.
Resumes female apparel, ib. Her irresolu
tion, 90. Final departure in male attire,
91. Fears discovery and pursuit, 92.
Partial engagement as one of the crew of
a privateer, 93. Final Enlistment, 95,
Arrives at West Point, 95, 157.
Her military equipments, 97. First en
counter with the enemy, 100. Wounded,
101. Campaign in Virginia, 106-110. Her
lover visits the camp in search of her, 153-
163. Her (supposed) letter to her mother,
117, 138-150. Another encounter with the
enemy, 119. Wounded, 120. Narrowly
escapes the discovery of her sex, 161. Cap
tures fifteen Tories at Vantassel s house, 125.
Scouting parties, 100. In great danger,
121. Winter expedition to the head waters
of the Hudson, 128. Gen. Schuyler,
129. She becomes waiter to Gen. Pat-
erson, 130. Cessation of hostilities, 131.
Journey to the Clove, 169. Bathing in
the river. 133. Seized with malignant
fever in Philadelphia, 135. Discovery of
her sex, 136. A love-adventure, 153-163.
Interview with the inamorata, 152. Tour
in the unsettled parts of Virginia, 141-51.
Adventures with the Indians, 141-51. Kills
an Indian, 148. In great danger, 149. Sup
posed reflections in immediate prospect of
death, 150. Returns to Philadelphia, 152.
Dr. Binney gives her a letter to Gen. Pater-
son, disclosing her sex, 156. Narrowly
escapes drowning in New- York Bay, 156.
Arrives at West Point, 95, 157. Her sex
becomes known to Gen. Paterson and Col.
Jackson, 157. Her discharge from the
army, 160. Returns to Massachusetts,
161. Her first winter after leaving the
army, 161. Her marriage, 162. Her sub
sequent history and death, 163. Her person
described, 97 .Appearance before the pub
lic in Boston Theatre, 164. Mrs. Gannett
in 1820, 163-4. Obituary notice, 166.
Gravestone, 165. Further notices, 163-6.
Scammell, Col. Alexander, 106.
Schools in New England in 1780, 74.
Schuyler, Gen., 129.
Shepard, Col. William 12, 14, 16, 18.
Account of him, 96.
Siege of Boston, 65. Of Yorktown, 106.
Sing Sing skirmish near, 100.
Smith, Mrs., a heroine, 23.
Snow, Richard, sick, 123. Dies, 124.
Southworth, Alice, 36.
Sperin, Noble, killed, 102.
Sproat, Earle, 90.
Sproat, Col. Ebenezer, 101.
Sproat, James, 18.
Standish, Alexander, 35. Lydia, ib. Miles,
Swan, Mrs., of Boston, 103.
Tarry town, action at, 13, 14, 16, 18, ICO,
Thacher, Dr. James, author of "The Military
Journal," 103, 108, 109, 110, 113, 115, 126.
Mr. Mann borrows largely from him, 103,
Thacher, Rev. Peter, 41. Rev. Thomas, ib.
Thomas, Benjamin, 41. Anecdote of him,
ib. His character, 46.
Thomas, Jeremiah, 54.
Thorp, Capt. Eliphalet, 18. His certificate,
19, 95, 99.
Treaty of Peace, 159.
Tupper, Col. Benjamin, account of him, 140.
Uxbridge, 19, 94.
Vantassel, a Tory, 123-125
Warren, Gen. Joseph, at Bunker Hill, 66, 68.
Webb, Capt. George, 12, 14, 16, 18, 96, 100.
White Plains, 100.
Wood, Israel, 90.
"Yankee," origin of the term, 109.
Yorktown besieged, 106. Taken, 110.