A Real American Hero

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By David Hall – Cougar News Staff Writer

American Historical Hero, Deborah Sampson “In the character of a soldier” is a one woman theatrical play, starring Kirsten Eggers – she chose quite a figure to portray.

Deborah Sampson was born in Plympton, Massachusetts. She was born on December 17, 1760. We have heard many stories of war heroes throughout history, until now, most of them have been about men.  But in an unusual turn, we travel back in history to share a story told about a female who wanted to serve her country and show support for what many in her day, thought was a unnecessary war.

Some historians hypothesize women in the 17th century were treated like property only to be used for breeding and serving those who could afford good servitude. Sampson grew up in poverty.  Her mom was too sick and too poor to take care of Sampson,  so off went Deborah to work for a deacon and his wife. Like many women in those days, Sampson  was not allowed to attend school. Indentured servitude ended for Sampson when she turned 18. Soon, Sampson wanted more out of life, so she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Continental Army.

Sampson fought in several skirmishes. During her first battle, on July 3, 1782, outside a small  town in New York, she received two musket balls in her thigh and an enormous cut on her forehead. She begged her fellow soldiers to just let her die and not take her to the hospital, but they refused to abandon her.  Fearful she would be discovered as a woman in man’s clothing, she removed the musket balls herself.  Her secret was later revealed years later.  After the war she lectured about her unique experience.

Deborah Sampson died in 1827. Today her memory lives on through the eyes and imagination of writer and Executive Director of Enrichment Works “Abraham Tetenbaum.” To hear more about Sampson’s story go to www.enrichmentworks.org.