Queers in History: Book, App for Android and IOS

Deborah Sampson |Soldier |1760-1827

Short biography from Queers in History

Deborah Sampson wore male drag to smuggle herself into the Continental Army.  Under the name of Robert Shurtliff, she served in the War of Independence without being exposed.  At one point she was wounded in the head and thigh.  She allowed an army doctor to treat the head wound but prevented him from treating her thigh, which she disinfected herself with medicinal wine and then extracted the bullet with a penknife.  After the war ended, she was honorably discharged from the army. 

Sampson had several affairs with women while in the public guise of a man.  She traveled to the Ohio frontier (still as soldier Shurtliff) where she purchased the freedom of a young white girl held captive by Indians, taking the girl as her wife. 

When Sampson’s true gender was discovered, she was denied her veteran’s pension.  Paul Revere, in recognition of Sampson’s patriotic contributions, provided some financial support.

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