Moss, Marissa. 2011. NURSE, SOLDIER, SPY: THE STORY OF SARAH EDMONDS, A CIVIL WAR HERO. Ill by John Hendrix. ISBN 9780810997356 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]
Sarah Edmonds was not the only woman to dress as a man and enlist in the Army during the Civil War. She is, however, the only woman formally recognized by the United States Congress as a Civil War veteran. Edmonds, known also as Frank Thompson, was already passing herself off as a male in order to avoid an arranged marriage when the Civil War broke out. After a failed attempt due to her lack of facial hair and looking too young, she successfully enlisted and served in the Union Army as a soldier, a field nurse (closer to a doctor), and eventually a spy.
Moss does a wonderful job of sharing this slice of Edmond’s life, with an appropriate amount of awe at her amazing accomplishments. Hendrix’s art is uncomplicated, and helps curtail some of the gore and other unpleasantness inherent to the story. The story and pictures cannot be considered white-washed or inaccurate, however, despite remaining suitable for a mid to upper elementary audience. An Author’s Note, Artist’s Note, Glossary, and Index are also included.
Gather other stories to read about women’s service in the military. Both stories such as Molly Pitcher (who also had to disguise herself as a man), and the stories of the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) in WWII can be shared.
A general book about the Civil War:
Bolotin, Norman. CIVIL WAR A TO Z: A YOUNG READER’S GUIDE TO OVER 100 PEOPLE, PLACES, AND POINTS OF IMPORTANCE. ISBN 0525462686
Another book about women serving in the military during the Civil War:
Caravantes, Peggy. PETTICOAT SPIES: SIX WOMEN SPIES OF THE CIVIL WAR. ISBN 1883846889
By Sarah C. Dornback