Saturday, March 31, 2012
Sarah Emma Edmonds
When Sarah Emma Edmonds read a book as a young girl about a woman who became a pirate after dressing as a man, she decided that adventures await in-your-face women you can't have any other way. So, when the Civil War broke out in the United States in the mid-1800's, Edmonds didn't let a little thing like the fact that she was born in Canada make her miss out on the fun. Enlisting in the U.S. military under the name "Franklin Flint Thompson," Edmonds lied her way into serving as a spy and once even darkened her skin with silver nitrate and put on a wig to enter a Confederate camp as a Black man.
Unfortunately, when she contracted malaria and had to duck out to recuperate in a civilian hospital so the fact that she was a woman wouldn't be discovered, "Franklin Flint Thompson" was reported as a deserter, so she laid that identity to rest. Later, when her fellow soldiers learned who she really was, they reported that, regardless of her gender, Edmonds/Thompson was a "frank and fearless" soldier, always ready to "take down the enemy" in every battle her company faced. In 1897, she became the only woman admitted to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Civil War Union Army veterans' organization. And her memoirs about her experiences in the military sold 175,000 copies. Seems strange we never hear about these women, doesn't it?