Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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SAMPSON, or SAMSON, Deborah, heroine, born in Plympton, Mass, 17 December, 1760; died in Sharon, Massachusetts, 29 April, 1827. She was large of frame, and accustomed to severe toil, and when not yet eighteen years of age, moved by a patriotic impulse, determined to disguise her sex and enlist in the Continental army. By teaching for two terms, she earned enough to buy cloth from which she fashioned a suit of male clothing. She was accepted as a private in the 4th Massachusetts regiment, under the name of Robert Shurtleff, and served in the ranks three years, volunteering in several hazardous enterprises, and showing unusual coolness in action. In a skirmish near Tarrytown she received a sabre cut on the temple, and four months later she was shot through the shoulder. During the Yorktown campaign she was seized with brain fever, and sent to the hospital in Philadelphia. The surgeon discovered her sex, took her to his home, and on her recovery disclosed the facts to the commander of her company, who sent her with a letter to Gem Washington. The commander-in-chief gave her a discharge, with a note of good advice and a purse of money. After the war she married Benjamin Gannett, a farmer of Sharon. During Washington's administration she was invited to the capital, and congress, which was then in session, voted her a pension and a grant of lands. She published a narrative of her life in the army, under the title of "The Female Review" (Dedham, 1797), of which a new edition was issued by the Reverend John A. Vinten, with an introduction and notes (Boston, 1866).
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