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A SHARON WOMAN ENLISTS IN CONTINENTAL ARMY
HOUSE OF DEBORAH SAMPSON GANNET, IN SHARON
Mrs. Gannett was the only woman in Massachusetts who enlisted in the Revolutionary Army.
Mrs. Deborah Sampson Gannett of Sharon, Massachusetts, has the distinction of being the only woman of this state who enlisted as a regular soldier in the Revolutionary Army, and the proof of her service can be found in the resolutions of the General Court of Massachusetts under date of January 20, 1792, which show that she served under the name of “Robert Shurtleff in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment” and that she was “entitled to receive as pay £34 and interest.”
She was led to enlist either on account of the frequent wooing of a lover for whom she did not care or owing to the death in the battle of Long Island of her real lover. At any rate she left home to enlist the night she heard of her lover’s death. She enlisted at Bellingham for three years and was sent to West Point. Her brother and sister travelled hundreds of miles to find her, and the former actually chanced to see her in the ranks though he could not recognize her. She knew him and decided to write home to her mother and tell her she was safe, but she did not divulge her occupation. The letter was unfortunately intercepted. She was in the battle of White Plains, taking part in the bloody bayonet charge, and was shot through her clothes three times. She worked on a battery at Yorktown and was known as the “blooming boy” so fresh was her appearance. She proved an excellent soldier and good at all kinds of work. She later received two wounds, but extracted a bullet from her thigh with a penknife and needle before the surgeon arrived.
General Patterson selected her as his waiter, in which position she proved especially efficient. She soon fell ill and became unconscious. Dr. Bana then discovered her identity, but he did not then divulge the secret.
A Baltimore woman once fell in love with her and addressed letters to her while she was in prison and sent money and presents to her, all of which was exceedingly annoying. While performing duty near Baltimore she was captured by the Indians. She killed the savage who stood guard over her, and it seemed as if she would be left to perish in the wilderness. She therefore wrote to her admirer, signing the letter “Your own sex.” After long wanderings she rejoined her regiment. Dr. Bana, however, had only been delaying her undoing, and he gave to her a letter to take back to her General which disclosed to him her secret. General Patterson, however, only commended her for her services and made arrangements to have her conducted back safely to Massachusetts.
She married Benjamin Gannett after the War and lived the rest of her life in Sharon in a house which is still standing. In it are some of her relics, table, Bible, etc. In 1802 she made a successful lecturing tour and kept a diary of it. Her grave in Sharon is still preserved, and a street is named after her. She is the heroine of this little town.
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