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Deborah Sampson Gannett

alias Robert Shurtliff

American Revolution

In 1782, Deborah Sampson put on male clothing, adopted the name Robert Shurtliff and enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment for a term of three years. She was five feet, seven inches tall, 22 years of age and the first woman known to enlist as a soldier in the American Army.

Sampson was wounded in her left thigh during the Battle of Tarrytown in New York. To keep her secret safe, she treated herself, but later she developed a fever and was sent to a hospital where a doctor discovered her gender. He told no one, but requested a medical discharge for her.

She married in 1785 and had one son and three daughters. In 1792, Sampson Gannett made request to the Massachusetts Legislature for back pay that she was entitled to as a former Continental soldier in the Massachusetts Line. Her neighbor Paul Revere endorsed her request and the Massachusetts Assembly passed a resolution granting her 34 pounds bearing interest from the date of her discharge as PVT Robert Shurtliff from the Continental Army. John Hancock, president of the Assembly, approved the resolution granting her the back pay.