Would You Change Your Sex for Your Country?

She did.

In honor of the 4th of July, let me share one of my favorite stories of a fiery, patriotic lady in Defiance–of the British!

Lord Cornwallis, the famous British general, once lamented, “We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.”

Deborah

In the fall of 1878, Deborah Samson, at the fiery age of 18, enlisted in the Continental Army…as a man. Spending the next three years as Robert Shirtliffe, Deborah did her part to secure liberty and freedom for America. She served in various capacities under Capt. Nathan Thayer and proved herself a capable, willing, and courageous Massachusetts soldier.

Talk about fight like a girl…

Never one to run from a battle, Deborah dove right in with the best and the bravest. She was shot once in the leg, nicked in the head by a British sword, then shot again in the other leg. All three times she refused medical attention so as not to have her ruse discovered. Unfortunately, she came down with a “brain fever” in 1781 and was treated by a Dr. Binney of Philadelphia.

Imagine his surprise!

He forthwith moved Deborah to his own home for recovery and sent a note to Capt. Thayer. Upon her recovery, Deborah was called to General Washington’s office. The legends differ here on what exactly happened next. Some say she was asked to deliver papers to the General, at which point he gave her the papers of discharge. Other stories say she delivered the papers, was called back to pick up new dispatches, and then Gen. Washington handed her the discharge papers.

Ever the Gentleman…

What all the stories agree on is that Washington chose not to publicly reprimand or embarrass Deborah. He handed her the discharge papers, without comment, and also handed her the soldier’s pay due her, and a note of advice. The note was lost to history, but knowing General Washington’s respect for women and his wry sense of humor, it probably said something to the effect of, “Now that you’ve shown my men how to fight, I think it is time you return to the duties of your fair sex. Thank you for your service to your country.”

Eventually, Deborah married a farmer named Gannet and had (naturally) three daughters. Ironically, she named the youngest one Patience.

An American girl after my own heart.

Happy 4th of July!

About Heather Frey Blanton

"I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is ... and God loves us anyway." -- Heather Blanton

Posted on July 4, 2019, in Ladies in Defiance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Betty Landesman

    Happy 4th of July. No, I wouldn’t change my sex for my country. Now I am to old. Back in my young days, I married when I was eighteen, almost nineteen then had our first baby at twenty-one. So I wouldn’t have wanted to go off to war. I am thankful for Deborah Sampson and all she did and all the women that have fought since that time. Blessings to you and all your readers.

  2. matt williams

    Oh how I love this story

    Matt Williams

    On Thu, Jul 4, 2019, 12:52 PM Ladies in Defiance wrote:

    > Heather Frey Blanton posted: “She did. In honor of the 4th of July, let me > share one of my favorite stories of a fiery, patriotic lady in Defiance–of > the British! Lord Cornwallis, the famous British general, once lamented, > “We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still ” >

  3. No, I would not. I like being female. In this situation, I am 3/4 chicken. I am not/ will never be/don’t want to be brave. I don’t like noise and I would be too afraid to shoot someone else. On top of all that, if I tried to pretend, it would show all over my face or worse, I would look shifty eyed because I would be constantly looking to see if I said or did something “right”!

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