Sarah Emma Edmonds / Franklin Thompson
Sarah Emma Edmonds
Sarah Emma Edmonds (1841-c.1898) left her New Brunswick, Canada, home in 1858. Escaping what she feared would be a life of "enslavement" as a woman, she took on the identity of a man, Frank Thompson, and found employment selling books. When Thompson came to Flint is unknown; however, on May 25, 1861, he enlisted in the Union Army. In 1863, Thompson became ill and left the army. His true identity remained a secret until Edmonds applied for a combat duty pension from the U.S. Army twenty years later. Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye died in Texas in 1898.
In 1861, Canadian-born Sarah Emma Edmonds enrolled in Company F, Second Michigan Infantry, disguised as a man named Franklin Thompson. The Second Michigan saw action at the first Battle of Bull Run and, as part of the Army of the Potomac, at the Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg. Thompson performed all of the duties of a soldier including nurse and mailcarrier. In 1863 he became ill, but was denied a furlough. To preserve his identity, he deserted. On July 3, 1886, Congress granted Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye and honorable discharge from combat duty and a pension.