Honouring The Wound: War and Performance in the Lives of Hannah Snell, Deborah Sampson and Pauline Cushman

Open access


This essay investigates three women’s cross-dressed service in the military. Hannah Snell (1723-92) served as a British marine and fought the French in India. Deborah Sampson Gannet (1760-1827) fought the British in the American Wars of Independence and Pauline Cushman (1833-1893) claimed to have disguised herself for the Union during the American Civil War. These three are, by no means, the only women to claim action and remuneration as male combatants (Jelinek 53-62),1 when the legal extent of women’s engagement was as unpaid camp followers. However, all three gave accounts of their military exploits to the public through biographies and solo performances on stage.

  • Allen Billings, Eliza. The Female Volunteer, or an Attempt to make our Men Stand, anAccount of the late action at Falkirk. Print.

  • An uncommon soldier: the Civil War letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias PrivateLyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1995. Print.

  • A NEW SONG. Sung by HANNAH SNELL, alias JAMES GRAY, at the New-Wells Goodman’s Fields. 1750. Print.

  • Cole, Benjamin. The Soldier's Pocket-Companion, Or The Manual Exercise Of OurBritish Foot 1746. Naval & Military Press. 2006. Print.

  • Cross, Richard. The Henpeck’d Captain; or The Humours of the Militia (1748). Larpent collection MS 71, Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Print.

  • Davies, Christian. The Life and Adventures of Christian Davies, Commonly CalledMother Ross, who in Several Campaigns under King William and the LateDuke of Marlborough, in the Quality of a Foot Soldier and a Dragoon, GaveMany Signal Proofs of Unparalleled Courage and Personal Bravery, Takenfrom her Own Mouth when a Pensioner at Chelsea Hospital and Known to betrue by many who were engaged in those great scenes of Action. London: R. Montagu. 1740. Print.

  • Dekker, Thomas and Thomas Middleton. The Roaring Girl. 1609. Print.

  • Dowie, Menie Muriel, ed. Women Adventurers. London, TF Unwin. 1893. Print.

  • Dugaw, Dianne. Warrior Women and Popular Balladry 1650 - 1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1989. Print.

  • Farquhar, George. The Recruiting Officer. A comedy. As it is acted at the Theatre RoyalinDrury-Lane, by Her Majesty's servants. 1706. Print.

  • Freidan, Betty. The Second Stage. New York: Harvard University Press. 1981. Print.

  • Fulford, Tim. “Fallen Ladies and Cruel Mothers: Ballad Singers and Ballad Heroines in the Eighteenth Century”. Eighteenth Century, Theory and Interpretation 47 (2006). 309-29. Print.

  • Hiltner, Judith. “She Bled in Secret: Sampson, Hermann Mann and The Female Review”. Early American Literature. 34 (2) (1999).190-220. Print.

  • Jelinek, Estelle C. “Disguise Autobiographies, Women Masquerading as Men”. Women’s Studies International Forum. 10 (1987). 53-62. Print.

  • Lock, Georgina. Short, White, Pleated. DVD. Handstand Films. 2002. Mann, Herman. The Female Review or Memoirs of an American Young Lady. Dedham, Mass.: N. and B. Heaton. 1797. Print.

  • Pepys, Samuel. The Pepys Ballads. Vol. IV. Hyder Edward Rollins ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1929. Print.

  • Perry, Gill. Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre,1768- 1820. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2007. Print.

  • Sarmiento, F.L. The Life of Pauline Cushman. Philadelphia: John E Potter, Sanson Street. 1865. Print.

  • Stephens, Matthew. The Secret Life of a Female Marine, 1723 -1792. London: Ship Street Press. 1997. Print.

  • The Female Officer, or the wonderful startling and thrilling Adventures of MadelineMoore, Who to be Near her Lover Procured a Male Disguise, and joined thelate Expeditionary force to Cuba, was elected Lieutenant and fought in theBattle of Cardenas, Under the Renowned General Lopez, An AccurateDescription of the Battle, and her own Perilous Adventures and Hair Breadthescapes including those of her Lover and a Great Deal More of Like Nature,Are Described with a Graphic Power That Will Fairly Make Onee’s BloodTingle With Excitement. The reader may rely upon this narrative, as beingstrictly authe ntic. New York. 1851. Print.

  • The Female Soldier. London Evening Post. July 5 - July 7. 1750. Print.

  • The Friendless Orphan, An Affecting Narrative of the trials and Afflictions Of SophiaJohnson, the early Victim of a Cruel Stepmother, whose afflictions andadventures probably exceed those of any American female living. Pittsburgh, PA.1842. Print.

  • The General Advertiser, 29th June 1750. Print.

  • The life, travels and extraordinary adventures of Elizabeth M’Dougald, who attired as aman, travelled over the principal part of the United States and of Canada,between the years 1826 and 1834 for the avowed purpose of revenge andassassination, and who, during her travels, spent two years in the army of theUnited States, without having her sex detected. Providence, SS Southworth. 1834. Print.

  • The New York Gazette, 10th January 1784. Print.

  • The Widow In Masquerade or the Female Warrior; Containing a Concise Narrative ofthe Life and Adventures of the Hannah Snell, Who Served With Credit forSeveral Years in the British Army and Navy. Northampton, Mass. 1809. Print.

  • The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of The Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of MadameLoreta, Janeta Vasquez, otherwise known as Lieutenant Harry T Buford,Confederate States Army, in which is Given Full Descriptions of the NumerousBattles in which she Participated as a Confederate officer; Of Her PerilousPerformances as a Spy, as a Bearer of despatches, as a secret service agent,and as a Blockade Runner; of her adventures behind the Scenes at Washington,Including the Bond Swindle; of her Career as a Bounty and Substitute Broker inNew York; of her Travels in Europe and South America, her mining Adventureson the Pacific Slope; her residence among the Mormons; her Love Affairs,Courtships, Marriages etc. etc. Ed. Worthington CJ. T Belknap, Hartford, CT. 1876. Print.

  • Thomas, Isaiah, ed. “The Life and Adventures of a Female Soldier”. New EnglandAlmanac. Boston, Mass. 1774. Print.

  • Walker, Robert. The Female soldier, or, The surprising life and adventures of HannahSnell. 1750. Print.

  • Webster, Noah. An American Selection of Lessons in Reading and Speaking Calculatedto Improve the Minds and Refine the Tastes of Youth and also to instruct themin the Geography, History and politics of the United States to which areprefixed rules in Elocution and Directions for Expressing the principlePassions of the Mind. 11th edition. Boston, Mass. 1797. Print.

  • Wheelwright, Julie. “Amazons and Military Maids, an Examination of Female Military Heroines in British Literature and the Changing Construction of Gender.” Women’s Studies International Forum, 1987 Vol 10 (5) 489- 502 Print.

  • Young, Alfred P. Masquerade, The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, ContinentalSoldier. New York: Alfred A Knopf. 2004. Print.


The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 19 19 12
PDF Downloads 4 4 3