Saturday, September 5, 2009

She Became a Union Soldier

Sarah Emma Edmonds who while serving as a Union Civil War soldier was known as Franklin Flint Thompson died on September 5th 1898.

Sarah Emma Edmonds was born in New Brunswick, Canada in December 1841. She left a verbally and physically abusive home when her parents tried to force her to marry. Edmonds worked selling Bibles around New Brunswick and New England, before working her way west and settling in Flint Michigan.

With the coming of the Civil War she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She became Franklin Flint Thompson. Her first service was as a male nurse, where she saw duty under George B McClellan at the battles of First Bull Run, Antietam, and others. She would as Thompson become a Union spy. Edmunds / Thompson used several disguises to travel behind Confederate lines including dying her skin black to pose as a black man, and as an Irish peddler woman. Her career as the soldier Frank Thompson came to end when she developed a case of malaria. Edmonds left the army and went to a private hospital for treatment. Once she recovered she found that Frank Thompson was listed as a deserter. Instead of taking the chance of being shot as deserter Edmonds spent the rest of war working as a nurse in Washington DC for the United States Christian Commission.

The publisher DeWolfe, Fiske and Co of Boston MA published “The Female Spy of the Union Army” in 1864, an account of Edmond’s military experiences. A year latter the it was reprinted in Hartford CT under the title, “Nurse and Spy in the Union Army”, it sold over 175,000 copies.

Edmonds married a Canadian mechanic, L H Seelve in 1867. She began to petition the US goverment for a pension in 1882 and was finally granted one in 1884 under her married name Sarah E E Seelye. She received a government pension for $12 a month for her service in the Union Army. Edmonds died September 5th 1898 in La Porte Texas and is buried in the Washington Cemetery in Houston Texas.

No comments: