Born into poverty in 1760, Deborah Sampson became an indentured servant at age ten.
At 21, she felt a call to military duty. She disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtleff, bound her breasts, and fooled her way past an Army recruiter. Although teased by her military comrades for not having facial hair, she performed as well as the men did. During Revolutionary War skirmishes, Sampson received both sword and musket ball wounds, which she tended herself to keep her gender under wraps.
Later hospitalized with fever, the attending physician discovered her secret and made discreet arrangements for her honorable discharge in 1783.
In 1804, after Paul Revere addressed Congress on her behalf, Deborah Sampson started receiving a U.S. pension for her brave military service.
This Rainbow Minute was read by Jeff Schultez.
“The Rainbow Minute” is produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and can be heard every weekday at 7:59am, 12:29pm and 2:59pm on WRIR – 97.3fm in Richmond, Virginia, and webcast at wrir.org. It’s also heard internationally on over 200 stations.