Deborah Sampson was born 17 Dec 1760 in Plympton, Plymouth Co. MA. to Jonathon and Deborah (Bradford) Simpson. One of eight children, they lived in Middleborough, MA. Their father apparently deserted the family and went to Maine. Her mother, destitute, was forced to farm out the children to various family and friends. At 10 years old she became an indentured servant on the farm of Deacon Jeremiah and Susana Thomas until she was eighteen. Not being allowed schooling, she talked the Thomas sons into teaching her to read and write. She did well enough that for a short time she taught school. Among her Hobbies were hunting and horseback riding.
In 1780, she had the idea of enlisting in the Continental Army, since women were not allowed to do this, she disguised herself as a man, being 5ft 7in, she was tall for a woman and on 20 May 1782 she successfully enlisted in Uxbridge, MA using the name of her deceased brother Robert Shurtlieff Sampson on the muster of Master Noah Taft of Uxbridge, she was chosen for Light Infantry Co. of the 4th Mass Regt under the command of Captain George Webb, later in Worcester under Colonel Shepard.
She fought in several battles, put up with the hardships and deprivations that the rest of the soldiers did. She was wounded severely in Tarrytown, NY, with 2 muskets balls to her thigh and a deep cut on her forehead. One of her comrades took her by horseback to a hospital 6 miles away. Afraid of being discovered she allowed them to dress her head wound, left the hospital and attend to one of the balls in her thigh with a penknife and sewing needle, the other ball was too deep and was never removed. It caused her trouble for the rest of her life.
On 1 Apr 1783, she was promoted and spent 7 months serving as a waiter to General John Paterson. This job entitled her to a better quality of life, better food, less danger and shelter. However, after the Treaty of Paris in 1783, when it was thought that the war was over, she was sent to Philadelphia that summer to aid in the squelching of a rebellion. Deborah came down with a malignant fever and was cared for by Doctor Barnabas Binney, who upon removing her clothing discovered her secret. Dr. Binney did not betray her, instead took her to his house where she was housed and cared for by his wife and daughters. When she recovered she returned to her army but not for long as the Treaty of Paris was signed in September. On 25 Oct 1783, after a year and a half of service, General Knox honorably discharged her from the army at West Point with some words of advice and enough money to sufficiently cover her expenses home.
On 7 April 1785 Deborah was married in Stoughton, MA to Benjamin Gannet, farmer, of Sharon, MA. They had 3 children and one adopted daughter. Eight years after in 1792, she petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the Army had denied her because she was a woman. It was passed, signed by John Hancock and she was awarded a total of 34 pounds. Her family ever in financial troubles, she again petitioned Congress for a pension as an invalid soldier, she was given a pension of $4.00 a month, finally in 1816 she was awarded $76.80 a year and was able to pay her debts and better care for the family farm. Deborah died of Yellow Fever 29 Apr 1827. Her husband was able to receive her pension until he died in 1837.