Friday, July 12, 2013

Sarah Edmondson

  Sarah Emma Edmondson was born in New Brunswick Canada in December 1841. Her father wanted a son to help with farm work and resented the fact that she was a girl. He was abusive to her and had arranged for her to be married to someone she didn't love. In 1857 she escaped to another Canadian town where she changed her name to Sarah Edmonds. Fearing she would be discovered she immigrated to Hartford Connecticut disguised as a man and working as a Bible salesman. When the Civil War broke out she was living in Flint Michigan and joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She became Franklin Thompson and was assigned to be a male nurse. She was nearly captured at 1st Bull Run and served in various battles taking care of the wounded. She was also assigned as a military mail carrier that required her to carry mail on horseback through many miles of dangerous territory full of the enemy and bushwhackers. On one occasion she was thrown into a ditch by a mule and she suffered a broken leg and internal injuries. This injury would plague her the rest of her life. She claimed to have served behind Confederate lines as a spy but there is no evidence to support this. In 1863 her unit was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland where she contracted malaria. Fearful that her identity would be discovered she temporarily left the army and checked herself into a civilian hospital. Upon recovery she tried to rejoin her unit but discovered that she had been charged with desertion. Fearing that she would be shot she finished the war as a female nurse working in a Washington DC military hospital. After the war she married a Canadian mechanic and had three children. She attended a reunion of the 2nd Michigan where her former comrades welcomed her with open arms. She applied for a military pension and to remove the charge of desertion from her military records. With the help of the men of her unit this was accomplished in 1884 after an eight year battle. In 1897 she was admitted to the membership rolls of the Grand Army of the Republic, it's only female member. She published a memoir called "Nurse and Spy In the Union Army". She died on September 5, 1898 at her home in LaPorte Texas and was reburied with military honors in Houston Texas in 1901.

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