Who did Penny Meet? Getting to know Sarah Emma Edmonds
Have you read "The Me in Memory" yet? In book 2 of my Penny Grace trilogy, Penny and her friends meet a major yet relatively unknown historical figure from the American Civil War. That's right, everyone, she met the soldier, nurse, and spy Sarah Emma Edmonds, aka "Frank Thompson." Now we all know the Mulan story right? The woman wants to fight for her family or her country so she goes undercover as a man and kicks enemy butt. The American Civil War in particular has a lot of those tales. But that's not Sarah's story.
Turns out Sarah Emma Edmonds was already living under the alias Frank Thompson before the Civil War broke out. Why? To get away from a forced marriage in her home country of Canada. The only way for her to travel and get a job was to don pants and take on the name Frank Thompson. She became a successful traveling Bibles salesman, according to battlefields.org, when the war broke out. Given her history of having to escape a forced life, she was an ardent Unionist and enlisted under her alias.
Now Sarah's battle stories are too numerious to fit on this little blog and far too interesting to sum up anyway but if you want a first hand account of her experience, there's good news! After the war, Sarah wrote a memoir of her experiences titled "Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy: A Woman's Adventure in the Union Army."
Sarah recieved many injuries during the war, including breaking her leg and some internal injuries after being thrown off a mule and into a ditch, but it was contracting malaria which forced her to seek medical help. However, doing so would have revealed her true identity so Sarah was forced to leave her comrades and go to the hospital under her given name. Frank Thompson was labeled a deserter and Sarah's life as Frank was over. After recovering, she became a female nurse until the end of the war.
While working as a nurse in Virginia, she met and fell in love with Linus Seelye who supported her independent ways, an extreme difference from the forced marriage and overbearing father of her childhood. She wrote her memoirs which became a best seller. But the title of deserter on Frank Thompson's name continued to bother Sarah.Through the encouragement of her husband, she gained the courage to tell her comrades the truth. She was recieved with open arms and relief from her comrades who reported being happy to finally have their friend back. With the support of all the men she knew during the war, the Congress eventually granted Frank Thompson an honorable discharge. Sarah received a cash bonus and a veteren's pension which helped with the medical bills for her bed leg from the war. Sarah was also accepted as a full member of the Grand Army of the Republic and is the only woman to be honored on that list.
I absolutely loved the details and information available about Sarah Emma Edmond's life. From stories of her childhood to interviews of her comrades after her grand reveal, there's a lot of first hand recordings out there which can be a rare thing. The Canada History website has some good stuff if you're interested in learning more.
But what does this have to do with my book series? Guess you'll have to buy The Me in Memory and find out. :) And when you're done reading, don't forget to post an honest review. Us authors can't get enough of reviews. Share on your favorite social media site so more people can know about the epic life of Sarah Emma Edmonds.