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Sarah Emma Edmonds

Updated on August 30, 2017

Sarah - Alias Frank Thompson, Soldier, Union Army

In 1864 Boston publisher DeWolfe, Fiske, & Co. published Edmonds' account of her military experiences as The Female Spy of the Union Army. One year later her story was picked up by a Hartford, CT publisher who issued it with a new title, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. It was a huge success, selling in excess of 175,000 copies. In 1867, she married L. H. Seelye, a Canadian mechanic with whom she had three children. Her two sons and her daughter died young, so she adopted two boys. In 1886, she received a government pension of $12 a month for her military service, and after some campaigning, gained an honorable discharge. In 1897, she became the only woman admitted to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Civil War Union Army veterans' organization. Edmonds died in La Porte, Texas and is buried in Washington Cemetery in Houston, Texas. She was a civil war hero and should be remembered as such.

Credit: Wikipedia

Biography of a Woman Union Soldier

Canadian born Sarah Emma Edmonds was born December 1841 and died September 5, 1898. She served in the American Civil War as a Union soldier under the alias of Franklin Flink Thompson. Inspired by her readings of the adventures of a female pirate degised as a man, Sarah first enlisted in the 2nd Michigan Infantry serving as a male field nurse. She was mustered in on May 25, 1861 as a 3 year recruit. She was always very adventurous and had a strong sense of duty to serve her country. She was able to play the role well and extensive physical exams were not required for enlistment at that time.

Sarah participated in several campaigns under General McClellan: 1st/2nd battle at Bull Run, Antietam, Peninsula Campaign and Vicksburg and others. Upon hearing of an opening as a Union Spy, and wishing to avenge a friends death, she applied and was very conveniencing during her appointment impressing all at the review. Even though there is no proof in her military record of being a spy, she documents her activities in her writings.

She was referred to as a "frank and fearless" soldier

She doesn't look like the type that could spy. She was as much as a soldier as the men.

Spy She Could Do!

1. Disguised as a black man by the name of cuff, she entered the Confederacy.

2. Disguised as an Irish Peddler Woman of Bridget O'Shea - selling apples and soap.

3. Under the disguised of a black laundress, entered the Confederacy. Dropping her papers got her in front of the generals.

4. Personated a detective, in Maryland, to assist finding an agent for the Confederate

Photo: Stone bridge over Antietam creek

Women in the American Civil War

If you really feel you must serve your country, would you join disguised as a man?

Do you think Sarah Emma Edmonds was right in joining the army especially disguised as a man?

What happen to Sarah? Was she wounded?

Was it a war wound that ended Sarah's military career?

See results

Sarah received a government pension of $12 a month for her military service.

Union Cannon

Union Cannon
Union Cannon

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julie W. Howe

From author Julie W. Howe:

"I awoke in the grey of the morning, and as I lay waiting for dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to entwine themselves in my mind, and I said to myself, "I must get up and write these verses, lest I fall asleep and forget them!" So I sprang out of bed and in the dimness found an old stump of a pen, which I remembered using the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper."

The hymn appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862.


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;

His day is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

more Battle Hymn of the Republic

Songs during the American Civil War

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Home Sweet Home

Tenting Tonight

Sweet Eveline



The Bonnie Blue Flag

Johnny Reb

March Through Georgia

Battle Hymn of the Republic (If you do not listen to any other songs, please listen to this last group - these guys are great! - Oak Ridge Boys & Statler fame)

May I Hear Back From My Readers

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