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Sarah Emma Edmonds (Frank Thompson)

American Civil War Soldier, Spy, Nurse

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Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier, Spy, and Nurse

Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier, Spy, and Nurse

© Jone Lewis 2002.

Dates: December 1841 - September 5, 1898

Occupation: nurse, Civil War soldier

Known for: serving in the Civil War by disguising herself as a man; post-Civil War book

Also Known as: Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye, Franklin Thompson, Bridget O'Shea

Sarah Emma Edmonds (born Edmonson or Edmondson) enlisted in a Michigan volunteer infantry company as Franklin Thompson, successfully evading detection as a woman for a year. She participated in the Battle of Blackburn's Ford, First Bull Run / Manassas, the Peninsular Campaign, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Sarah Edmonds sometimes served as a spy, "disguised" as a woman (Bridget O'Shea) or as a black man.

After deserting, she worked - as Sarah Edmonds - as a nurse for the U.S. Christian Commission. Edmonds published her version of her service -- with many embellishments -- in 1865 as Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. In 1882 she began to petition for a pension as a veteran, and was granted one in 1884 under her new married name, Sarah E. E. Seelye. She had three children.

Sarah Emma Edmonds on this site

Print Bibliography

  • Moss, Marissa. Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero. Ages 9-12.
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  • Sequin, Marilyn. Where Duty Calls: The Story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Soldier and Spy in the Union Army. Young Adult Fiction.
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  • Reil, Seymour. Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy. Ages 9-12.
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  • Edmonds, S. Emma. Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: Comprising the Adventures and Experiences of a Woman in Hospitals, Camps and Battle-Fields. 1865.
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