Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

150 Years Ago


Since our nation is marking the Sesquicentennial of the United States Civil War from 2011 to 2015, there have been many books published to explain this historic event that occurred 150 years ago. Two books have recently been published about the same Civil War participant.


One of the personalities/heroes of the Civil War was Sarah Edmonds who was one of the few women known to have fought on the front lines. Sarah did not enlist and serve as a woman; her fellow Union soldiers knew her as Frank Thompson. Enlisting wasn’t Sarah’s first act as a man though. When she was sixteen, Sarah cut her hair, put on pants, and ran away from home in Canada in order to avoid an arranged marriage. When she settled in the United States, she enjoyed the freedom that she had masquerading as a man. The first time she tried to enlist, Frank (Sarah) was turned away because she looked like a young boy. As more men were needed, recruiters ignored the fact that some of their volunteers appeared young, and Frank enlisted as a private in Company F, Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry of the Army of the Potomac. Frank went on to serve as a compassionate nurse and then a successful spy for the cause.


In 1886, Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye was recognized as a veteran of the Civil War. In her memoir, she wrote “I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic – but patriotism was the true secret of my success.”


Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, A Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss, illustrated by John Hendrix (Abrams, 2011)


Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy by Carrie Jones, illustrated by Mark Oldroyd (Carolrhoda, 2011)




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