Teresa Hanafin, who writes “Fast Forward” for the Boston Globe, wrote today about a true American hero:


Mass. lawmakers on the joint veterans committee meet to consider a bill that would create a special memorial commission to study how best to honor Deborah Sampson, a native of Plympton who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolutionary War.

It’s a truly remarkable story. Sampson called herself Robert Shurtleff and escaped detection for a good 18 months, scouting the location of British troops and supplies, attacking Tories, and even digging trenches at the siege at Yorktown. She was shot in the left thigh once, but cut the pistol ball out herself so no one would examine her.

Alas, she was found out when she fell ill during an epidemic and passed out at a Philadelphia hospital. She received an honorable discharge, and Massachusetts eventually awarded her a full military pension — the only woman to get a pension from that war.

She got married, had kids, and lived as a fairly typical farmer’s wife in Sharon, but the farm didn’t do well, so she soon was giving paid lectures about her wartime experiences (before her pension came through). The towns of Plympton and Sharon have honored her; now it’s the state’s turn.

Thanks for reading. How on earth did Deborah Sampson pull that off? It helped that she was 5 feet, 9 inches — 3 inches taller than the typical male of the era. Send comments and suggestions to teresa.hanafin@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @BostonTeresa. See you tomorrow.