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Deborah Sampson Testifies About Her Service

During the Revolutionary War, Deborah Samson and an unknown number of women dressed as men in order to fight. Using the alias “Robert Shurtleff,” Sampson served with the 4th Massachusetts Regiment for two years before being injured and honorably discharged. After the war, she resumed her identity as Deborah Sampson. In 1792, the government of Massachusetts awarded her a pension for her service. This document, part of her application for a pension from the federal government, details her experience in the army. Even as early as the late 1700s, the army was an avenue that women used to challenge traditional gender roles.

Deborah Gannett, of Sharon, in the county of Norfolk, and District of Massachusetts, a resident and nation of the United States, and applicant for a pension from the United States, under an Act of Congress entitled an Act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States, in the revolutionary war, maketh oath, that she served as a private soldier, under the name of Robert Shurtleff, in the war of the revolution, upwards of two years in manner following [illegible]. Enlisted in April 1781 in the company commanded by Captain George Webb in the Massachusetts regiment commanded then by Colonel Shepherd, and afterwards by Colonel Henry Jackson - and served in said corps, in Massachusetts, and New York - until November 1783 - when she was honorably discharged in writing, which discharge is lost. During the time of her service, she was at the capture of Lord Cornwallis, was wounded at Tarrytown - and now receives a pension from the United States, which pension she duly relinquishes. She is in such reduced circumstances, as to require the aid of her country for her support---

Mass. District September 14, 1818

Deborah Gannett Sworn to before me Davis Dis. Judge Mass. District

Source | Testimony of Deborah Sampson Gannett; 9/14/1818; Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application File S 32722, Deborah Gannett, Mass.; Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, ca. 1800 - ca. 1912; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Item Type | Laws/Court Cases
Cite This document | “Deborah Sampson Testifies About Her Service,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 28, 2023,

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