Here is Something I wrote about Deborah Sampson for a History contest. I hope you enjoy it.
Today General Henry Knox discharged me from the army. I guess to understand why and how this happened I should start from the very beginning. Ever since the Revolutionary War started I thought about joining the army. The only problem was that I am a women and woman are supposed to do cleaning, cooking, and they are to raise a good proper family. I never stopped thinking about joining and becoming a great soldier even though I could get in huge trouble.
I still remember those months when I couldn’t make up my mind. I became a teacher in 1779 in a Middleborough public school. On May 20, 1782 I finally decided to enroll in the army. I was very handy when it came to knitting so I knitted a scarf and wrapped my chest. I dressed in men’s clothes and walked out the door to visit you.
Remember that day when a man named Robert Shurtliff came to your door? It wasn’t a man. It was me. My heart was pounding louder than drums being trampled by elephants. I decided the best way to test my disguise was to test it on you. Who would know me better than you? If you didn’t know who I was than I knew my disguise was perfect. As you know it was perfect. I went down the street to enroll in the army.
I remember my mind racing as I signed not my name but the name Robert Shurtliff. I was so afraid that someone would see me and know it was me! I knew the risk would be worth it. I would be doing something that no other women I knew would dare to do. They would be too scared and run off like wild chickens being chased by dogs. I felt very proud that day and was the happiest person alive.
I went through so many ups and downs. More than once I felt so tired and ready to give up that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt as if I just had to give up. All I had to do was tell someone I was a girl and I know they would not have let me stay. I decided to stay and keep going no matter what.
Once I was with a group of soldiers and we were loading our bags with food to take to our camp. All of the sudden a group of Tory soldiers came and started shooting at us. I was so scared I could barely move. I was shot in the leg and I got a cut in my forehead. The doctor healed my cut but I never said a word about my leg. I knew that doctors made you undress to take a bullet out of your leg and he would for sure find I was not a man. I couldn’t back down so I drank the alcohol the doctor gave me for the pain and I pulled the bullet out of my leg. The pain was worse than I ever felt in my life. My blood was gushing all over my hands. I nearly fainted from the pain. I kept going. Never stop, I kept saying to myself. Never stop. My leg never fully recovered and it still troubles me today. All I can do is keep going and trust that I’ll be all right.
Like I said, my leg never fully healed and in 1783 it caused me to become ill. The doctor who was taking care of me found out I was a woman. He never told anyone because he believed in my cause. The trouble was his niece fell in love with me and the truth had to come out. I told the general that I was indeed a girl and he gave me an honorary discharge from the army. I dressed back into my old clothes and one of my friends from the army saw me and had no clue who I was. I felt proud of how I had such a good disguise that a soldier who I lived with never knew who I was.
I know you may not be happy with what I did but I want you to know this: I am very proud of my history. I am proud of my country and proud of how I never gave up. I hope people will one day talk about me and feel brave to deal with whatever they face in life.