STORIES
Women

Sarah E. Edmonds

by Rachel from New Haven

Sarah Edmonds <br>(http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk<br>/USACWthompson.GIF)
Sarah Edmonds
(http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
/USACWthompson.GIF)

My hero is Sarah Emma Edmonds. She is my hero because she was successful at serving in the Union Army as a man. She also was a successful spy for them too. Soon she was given a bonus and veteran's pension. She got twenty dollars each month. On top of that, when she died, she was buried in Washington Cemetery in Texas, on the military side. She did better as a spy then any man ever did and she was a woman.

Sarah was born in New Brunswick, Canada. She was born in December of 1841 to the parents of Isaac and Elisabeth Edmonds. She had a hard life when she was younger. Her father hated her because she was a girl. He was really mean and abusive to her. She would try and prove to him that she was a boy so she could escape his abuse. She would always try and hide her feminine side. Sarah moved to the U.S when her father began to become more abusive. She adapted to the U.S fast.

When the Civil War began, Sarah was living in Flint, Michigan. Her job was selling bibles. When they called for Union volunteers, it made Sarah cut her hair, get boys clothing and change herself into Frank Thomas. She tried four times and eventually got in. She wasn’t accepted because of her size, no one knew she was a girl. On April 25, 1861, she became a male nurse in the 2nd Michigan Volunteer of the Union Army. She trained in Washington, D.C. and her unit was sent to Virginia to become part of McClellan’s team. She was now Private Frank Thomas.

Then a Union spy for McClellan was caught and killed. They called for spies and Frank Thomas volunteered. She did everything to get a chance. She studied weapons, geography, tactics, and military personalities. She impressed the staff on her interview and became their spy. Her first mission, she decided to disguise herself as Cuff, a black slave. She made herself black with silver nitrate. No one recognized her and the Confederates took Cuff in to work. She learned about their size of the army, their morale, weapons available and discovered their Quaker Guns. She escaped and told the Union. She did at least 11 successful missions. She was an Irish woman, Charles Mayberry, and other disguises. She deserted the army when she got sick with malaria. There was a risk of her being caught so she decided to go to a hospital. Soon she rejoined as a female nurse because she saw that news was printing Frank Thomas as a deserter. She married Linus Sheeyle and moved to Ohio. No one knew her secret until 1884. She decided to have Congress look over her case. They gave her an honorable discharge and veterans' pay. She died in 1898.

As you can see, Sarah did many things as a woman, disguised as a man. She did better than the men. At that time women weren’t allowed to join the war, but she did this anyway. Many other women did it too, but she was more successful at it. She risked her life, wrote a book, and was able to receive money as a female Union soldier. And when she died, she was the only woman buried in the Washington Cemetery. She is also the only woman who's a member of The Grand Army of the Republic. What woman can’t be proud of Sarah? She’s another person who helped women do what they want to do and not be pushed away because we are girls. In our time, women are allowed to go to war and don’t have to disguise themselves. They get everything the guys get. Women are just as physically strong as the men.

Page created on 6/15/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/15/2006 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

Sarah E. Edmonds - Biography from Civil War Home