(WOMENSENEWS)–1782. Deborah Sampson, 22, enlisted in the Continental army. Using the name of a brother who died, she concealed her gender by binding her breasts. Sampson served with distinction for a year and a half in upstate New York, where strategic American forts blocked the British goal of seizing the Hudson River Valley.

She was chosen for an elite military unit and served in raids on Loyalists and Indians who had been harassing Patriot families in the area. A doctor eventually found her out when treating a fever epidemic. He did not report her, but cared for her and sent her west on a scouting expedition before revealing Sampson’s identity in a report praising her service.

About two million women have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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