Deborah Samson Gannett (December 17, 1760 - April 27, 1827), better known as Deborah Sampson, was an American woman who impersonated a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and was the only woman to fight in the Revolutionary War . She served 17 months in the army, as "Robert Shurtliff", of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, was wounded in battle and discharged honorably at West Point.
Deborah Samson was born in Plympton, Massachusetts in a small village in New England on December 17, 1760. Although her family name was originally spelled without the 'p', Mann's biography of her used a mistaken spelling and it is under this spelling that she is most commonly remembered. She was the oldest of six children of Jonathan and Deborah Bradford Samson, both of old Colonial stock; the elder Deborah was a descendant of William Bradford, once Governor of Plymouth Colony. Her siblings included Jonathan, Sylvia and Jeremiah. The family lived in Middleborough, Massachusetts, during her youth. Her family was poor, and when they received word that Jonathan Sampson had drowned in a shipwreck in 1765, they were forced to go into service as indentured servants. Jonathan Sampson, Deborah's father, told the family that he was going to England. However, some sources say that Jonathan instead sailed to Maine and remained there for the rest of his life.
Deborah lived in several different households; first with a spinster, then with the widow of Reverend Peter Thatcher, and finally, in 1770, she ended up an indentured servant of Deacon Jeremiah and Susannah Thomas.