Our Military Life Blog

Sarah Emma Edmonds aka Frank Thompson

This Military Monday we take you back into history….the Civil War

We salute…. PVT Sarah Emma Edmonds!

Sarah Emma Edmonds was one of the very few women veterans from the Civil War, a time when women were not allowed to serve in the military. A Canada native who moved to Detroit, Michigan while young, disguised herself in 1861 as a man and joined the United States Army so that she could serve her country! Sarah went in under the name, Frank Thompson and was in the Second Volunteers of the Army as a male nurse and a spy for the Union!

In 1857, to escape the abuse and an arranged marriage, Edmondson left home, changing her name to Edmonds. Sarah lived and worked in another town away from home but living in fear she would be discovered by her father, it was then she decided to immigrate to the United States. In order to travel undetected and to secure a job, she decided to disguise herself as a man and took the name Franklin Thompson. She soon found work in Hartford, Connecticut as a traveling Bible salesman.

Under her alias, Frank Thompson she was mustered into the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She initially worked as a nurse, working in the hospital but later was assigned the duties of a mail carrier. Sarah was shipped out of VA as part of General McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign and supposedly asked to conduct espionage missions. On May 5, 1862, the regiment came under heavy fire during the Battle of Williamsburg. Edmonds was caught in the middle and ended up grabbing a musket and firing alongside her comrades!  Sarah also acted as a stretcher bearer, ferrying the wounded from the field hour after hour in the pouring rain.

Through other battles Sarah Edmonds continued to see action, acting as moth a mail carrier and nurse; she also suffered injuries due to being thrown into a ditch, breaking her leg and suffering internal injuries.

Sarah eventually came out of her disguise after her recovery, working with the U.S. Christian commission as a female nurse. She wrote and published her memoirs, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, donating profits from her book to various soldiers and aid groups.


Be sure to look up her memoirs for a more detailed account of this incredible woman!

Thank you for your service!