Deborah Sampson Timeline
Timeline Description: Deborah Sampson was a female hero in a time when women didn't do a man's work. She disguised herself as a man in order to be allowed in battle during the American Revolutionary War, and she has inspired women for two centuries.

Date Event
December 17, 1760 Deborah Sampson is born

Born the oldest of seven children, Deborah was born in Plympton, Massachusetts. Her parents were poor, even though her mother descended from William Bradford, once a governor of Plymouth Colony.
1770 Indentured servant

Because Deborah's family was poor she became an indentured servant in order to pay her family's debts. She lived on a farm with the Thomas family until she was eighteen years old.
1775 Her father enlists

Deborah's father, Jonathan, enlisted in the Revolutionary War in July 1775. He eventually died a pauper.
1780 Deborah gets an idea

As a woman who enjoyed hunting, tracking, and fishing, Deborah wanted to help further the cause of American freedom. It was during this time she first had the idea to enlist in the war disguised as a man.
1782 Deborah enlists

Because women weren't allowed to enlist to fight, Deborah disguised herself as a man. She enlisted in Massachusetts using her brother's name.
July 3, 1782 Her first battle

Deborah, fighting under the name Robert Shertlieff, fought her first battle in New York. She was injured by musket balls, but she was afraid the doctors would learn her secret identity so she refused medical treatment.
1783 Deborah is promoted

Deborah found herself earning a promotion. She served under General John Paterson as one of his personal waiters, and she was spared from battle for several months.
June 1783 An end to the war

The Treaty of Paris was signed and ended the war, but rebellions continued to break out for a few months. During a small fight, Deborah came down with fever and the doctors who treated her discovered her secret; they did not tell anyone she was a woman.
October 1783 Honorable discharge

Even though General Henry Knox eventually learned Deborah's secret, he did not reveal her true identity. She was allowed an honorable discharge from the Army at West Point.
April 1785 Marriage and children

After leaving the army, Deborah Simpson resumed life as a lady. She married a man named Benjamin Gannett, and they had three children.
1792 Compensation for her labor

Once the army had discovered she was a woman, they refused to pay Deborah for her faithful service. She petitioned the courts on her own behalf, and she was eventually granted fair pay in the amount of 34 pounds.
1797 Deborah the author

Many people were impressed and intrigued by Deborah's heroics. She eventually co-authored a book about her adventures, though not all her stories were accurate.
1802 Deborah continues working

Deborah's financial needs grew, and she found herself giving lectures about her army adventures in order to earn money. Even with her lively stories, though, she did not earn enough to live off of.
1804 Paul Revere speaks on her behalf

Admiring her bravery and believing she deserved as much as any man, Paul Revere went to the Massachusetts Representative William Eustis. He asked that Deborah be given fair compensation for her time in the army, and she was at last paid a monthly pension for her service.
1827 Deborah's death

After many years of struggle and hard work, Deborah passed away on April 29, 1827. She was sixty-six years old.