Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Deborah Sampson: Soldier of the Revolution, Harold W. Felton uses narrative vignettes presented as chapters to document the experiences of a remarkable young woman who served as a soldier during the revolutionary war. The text is enhanced throughout by a series of full-page, black-and-white pencil sketches and includes an index to major names and events.

In the foreword, which sets the realistic tone that characterizes the book, Felton presents the documentation upon which his fictionalized biography is based. A number of primary sources were consulted, including pension records, news accounts, and local histories. He describes several biographies that preceded his own, discussing in some detail the discrepancies among them “in order to avoid the necessity to pause and undertake to justify or explain or qualify in the text.”

Using narrative and dialogue, Felton moves the young reader through the major events of the revolutionary war, beginning with the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, and culminating with the peace treaty signed in Paris on September 3, 1783. While the focus of the book is the military career of Deborah Sampson, less than half the fourteen chapters describe her experiences as a soldier.

The early chapters follow Sampson from her thirteenth birthday through the events that led to her enlistment as “Robert Shirtliff” at the age of twenty-two. The events were carefully chosen to show their...

(The entire section is 465 words.)