Sarah Emma Edmonds Haiku

Pa forcing marriage?

Sign up for Union Army.

It’s the only way.

And now, it’s time for Crossdresser Week. Our first entry provides us with some Canadian representation in the form of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Union soldier and spy.

Edmonds was born in New Brunswick in 1841, and immediately proved a disappointment to her father because of her selfish lack of a penis. Because of that, he was a complete ass to her and tried to marry her off before she even turned 16. She decided that she wouldn’t put up with that particular form of bull shit, and with the aid of her mother (who had married early herself and did NOT want Sarah to wind up like her), ran away to Moncton. But! A) She was still in the same colony as her dick of a dad, thus making it all the more likely he would track her down and B) single ladies didn’t exactly have a lot of options in terms of jobs that would give them fair renumeration for their labor.

The best thing to do, obviously, was the move down to the States, put on some trousers, and become a traveling Bible salesman. And so, Franklin Thomas, champion bookseller, was born! Then (as happens so very often with the people I discuss), War! Specifically, the American Civil War. And the definitely a penis-haver Thomas was 110% pro-Union and signed up for the 2nd Michigan Infantry. They didn’t really check for that prior to the 20th century.

Edmonds, as Thomas, at first served as a nurse, then message runner. Then… Spy! Her predecessor got shot up by a Confederate firing squad, but dissuaded her not one bit. Into enemy territory she went, with a myriad of disguises that included: female Irish peddler, white male detective, Black male, Black laundress. In that last disguise, she apparently scored big with a set of official documents stashed in an officer’s jacket. She did, of course, face battle and her comrades had nothing but praise for conduct under fire.

Her career as a soldier came to a sudden end in 1863, when she contracted malaria. She didn’t want to receive medical attention from the army, as they’d find out out her secret in about two seconds. She requested leave and was turned down. So she ran off to receive (happily, successful) treatment. Problem was, ‘Franklin Thomas’ was now listed as a deserter. Given the choice of returning to her regiment and either having to reveal her deception or face a firing squad, or going back to living as a woman and working as a Union nurse, she chose the latter.

And then she let it all out anyway by publishing her memoirs in 1864. And even that act was to help out the Union, as she donated the proceeds to soldiers’ aid organizations.

When Edmonds met up with her old comrades post-War, they were of the opinion that she was awesome and decided to help her out, assisting her in getting the desertion charge dropped, an honorable discharge, and a pension. In the meantime, she married a childhood friend, had three children (all who unfortunately died young), and adopted two more.

Edmonds died in Texas in 1898. Then she was dug up 1901 in order for her to receive a sweet military funeral. Fair enough; you’ve got to give badasses their due.

So fuck you, Father of Sarah Emma Edmonds. She could’ve kicked your ass.

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