The new soldier serves bravely for a year and a half. It is not until he is hospitalized with fever that his secret is discovered. Private Shurtliff is really a woman - 23 year-old Deborah Sampson!
Because her mother was too poor to take care of her, Deborah had been sent away from home at an early age. For ten years, she was a servant for the Deacon Thomas family in the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Middle borough, looking after four growing c hildren and doing chores. Deborah was too busy even to go to school. Besides, in the late 1700's people didn't think schooling was important for girls - girls couldn't even learn a trade as men could.
Deborah longs for a life of her own. When she leaves the Thomas family at the age of eighteen, she is not ready to settle down and get married. She wants to see a bit of the wold first - to travel to big cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.
If she were a man, she could find adventure by joining the army...
How Deborah keeps her identity a secret during long, exhausting marches and bloody raids against the Tories, and how her bravery brings the admiration of her fellow soldiers, her commanding general, and finally her county, makes exciting, suspenseful reading.