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A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, Civil War Hero

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  357 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
The story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who masqueraded as a man named Frank Thompson during the Civil War. Among her many adventures, she was a nurse on the battlefield and a spy for the Union Army, and was captured by (and escaped from) the Confederates. The novel is narrated by Sarah, offering readers an in-depth look not only at the Civil War but also at her journey to self-d ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
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Gretchen Hohmeyer
I picked this one up on a whim from NetGalley, because I really do adore historical fiction. Typically I don’t read Civil War stuff, and I thought it would be a good change. It struck me as something akin to those “Dear America” books I read as a child, so why not, right?

However, straight from the get go, I could see problems with this book emerging. The narrator comes off as stiff and emotionless. The First Battle of Bull Run is also steamrolled right through–as is everything else until about t
This is actually the second book I've read on Sarah Edmonds, the first being the much shorter Behind Rebel Lines, which I read quite some years ago now so, length aside, I can't really compare the two. This one was, however, much more in-depth and at times seemed like a minute-by-minute account of the Civil War: every battle, every retreat, every Union victory and defeat. Which meant that in places it started to feel a little long and repetitive as well, but it was still really interesting becau ...more
Beth Cato
Disclaimer straight up: I was supplied a gratis ebook ARC of the book through NetGalley.

I desperately wish this book had existed twenty years ago when I was twelve and utterly obsessed with the Civil War. As flawed as the novel is, it brings to life the incredibly complicated real person Sarah Edmonds. She lived as a man before the Civil War and then enlisted in the Union army, kept her secret for several years, and eventually had to desert when persistent malaria required her to seek medical tr
Jun 23, 2012 Abigail rated it really liked it
I have always been attracted to stories of women dressing up as men and going off to fight so it seemed natural for me to claim this book from my friend who picked it up at Book Expo America 2012 and didn't want it.

Growing up, my mom was fond of getting me historical fiction to read, I"m not sure if it was because she liked it herself or because she wanted me to learn something while getting a good story out of it. Either way, it gave me a good understanding of history and I discovered in my ea
Jun 29, 2012 Angela rated it liked it
A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss tells the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who lived and worked as a man before and during the American Civil War during the 19th century. Sarah was born in Canada, where she lived with her family until her father arranged a marriage for her. She was so distraught at the thought of marrying an elderly man that she cut her hair, took some of her brother’s clothes and ran away. Sarah became Frank Thompson ...more
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
Sarah Edmonds lives with her Mother, brother and abusive Father determined to win her Father's love, approval and respect - until he takes things too far. After he sells her beloved horse and arranges for her to marry its new owner, she dresses as a boy and runs away from home. She gains a job selling books from a fair employer, but when the Civil War begins Sarah decides to enlist, becoming first a nurse and then a spy under the name Frank Thompson. She becomes great friends with Jerome, her fe ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jul 10, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it it was ok
Sarah is tired of living in an abusive household, so when her father not only sells her horse, but arranges for her to marry the man who bought the horse, she takes her brother's clothes and runs away from home, disguising herself as a young man. She gets a job selling books as Frank Thompson and does quite well, but the Civil War is heating up, and she feels called to serve. At first, she is turned away because the recruiters think she is too young, but when the demand for soldiers increases, s ...more

I requested this book because I love the history of the American Civil War and I was not familiar with any stories about women disguising themselves as men in order to serve as soldiers although I knew that it had happened.

In this case, we have a novelized version of the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, undercover as Frank Thompson from even before the war. She fled an abusive father and forced marriage in Canada, exchanging petticoats and corsets for the freedom of pants and lived as a traveli
Oct 25, 2012 ~Kate~ rated it really liked it
I received an email from Abrams & Chronicles (thanks for sending me the book) if I wanted to read this book and even though it's not my normal kind of book it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try and I'm glad I did.

The cover doesn't exactly draw me in but once I had read the story the cover explained itself. It's the title that actually drew me in so I'm glad it's in the centre of the book and bold making it eye catching.

I loved that this story was based on a true story as
Aug 29, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
“Truth is ofttimes stranger than fiction…” So it was written of Sarah Edmonds, a.k.a. Frank Thompson, within legislation debated and enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1884. The law officially acknowledged the secret life Sarah had lived as Private Frank Thompson of the Second Regiment of the Michigan Infantry Volunteers during the Civil War, and granted her an honorable discharge and veteran’s pension. Sarah, one of approximately 400 women to serve secretly during the Civil War, was the first and ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Laurie Halse Anderson once wrote in her blog that she preferred to call her historical books "historical thrillers" rather than "historical fiction," given that many kids and teens associate historical fiction with BORING. However, it's not every historical fiction title that can be justly called a "thriller." With A Soldier's Secret, Marissa Moss definitely joins the club of historical thriller writers for teens. Based on the true story of Civil War hero Sarah Edmonds, who enlisted in the Union ...more
Jun 23, 2016 Tracey rated it it was ok
What it says on the tin: this is the story of a young woman who ran away from her life, and created a new one wearing trousers. Her life as a girl was intolerable, so she reinvented herself as a man, and when the Civil War came along she, or rather he, enlisted in a spirit of determined patriotism, and became the best soldier in his unit – and a nurse, devoted to his patients, and postmaster (which I never really realized was so dangerous) and attaché and Union spy. And in two years of service t ...more
May 26, 2016 Adrienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Sarah Emma Edmonds has been disguising herself as a man since she ran away from home a couple years before the outbreak of the Civil War. When Abraham Lincoln calls for soldiers, Sarah--alias Frank Thompson--is swept away by feeling of patriotism and adventure and enlists in the army, where she finds it a little bit harder than she expected to keep up her disguise, as she's surrounded by men and she finds herself falling in love with one of her fellow soldiers. Even as she struggles with her fee ...more
Sara Latta
Nov 11, 2012 Sara Latta rated it really liked it
Frank Thompson wasn’t your ordinary Civil War soldier. For starters, Frank was extraordinarily versatile, serving as a nurse, mail carrier, and a spy. By all accounts, Frank was unusually brave. And while Frank was slight of build, with cheeks as smooth as a girls’, the same could be said of many underage boys who enlisted to help fight for their country.
But Frank was no underage boy. Frank’s real name was Sarah Emma Edmonds, a young woman who had been living as a man for three years before en
Jo Butler
Nov 24, 2012 Jo Butler rated it really liked it
Private Frank Thompson of the 2nd Michigan Volunteers is not your typical Civil War infantryman. He is also a battlefield nurse and writes dispatches for a weekly newsletter. Frank even serves as a spy, scouting Rebel lines dressed as a Confederate soldier or as an old woman. He provides information on troop movements and artillery placements, and reveals the identities of Confederate spies who have crossed Union lines on their own covert missions.

Frank is an expert on concealing his identity fo
Frank Thompson isn't an ordinary soldier in the Union. He's a nurse, treating the wounds of injured solders, a spy, going over to the Rebel side and finding out secrets, and a mail carrier, delivering precious letters to the other soldiers. But Frank is actually a woman, Sarah Emma Edmonds.

Sarah narrates the book as she struggles with lying about who she is, and falls in love with one of her soldiers, all while witnessing the horror of the Civil War. A Soldier's Secret is based on the true story
Dec 14, 2012 Jillian rated it it was amazing
There is nothing more I love than a great historic novel! Marissa Moss certainly doesn't disappoint, but what makes this even better is that it is based on a actual person who defeated odds as a woman dressed as a man, and as a woman herself. Sarah Edmonds, a.k.a. Frank Thompson lives an amazing life filled with bravery and risks as a woman dressed as a man, and also on the battlefield during the Civil War as a nurse, spy, orderly, and postmaster. Any soldier's life that played out the way Frank ...more
I'd read and enjoyed thoroughly Nurse, Soldier, Spy, the picture book about Sarah Edmonds who disguised herself as a man and served as a Union soldier during the Civil War. This title takes the information in that picture book, written by the same author, and expands on it for an older audience. As Frank Thompson, Sarah tended wounded soldiers, carried mail, scavenged for food, and went on several spying missions. She risked her life more than once, and even risked having her secret revealed whe ...more
Wayne S.
Jan 12, 2013 Wayne S. rated it it was ok
Did you know that there were over 400 women who are known to have dressed as men and fought during the U. S. Civil War? One of them was nineteen-year-old Sarah Emma Edmonds, a native of New Brunswick, Canada, who at age sixteen ran away from a drunken father who abused her and a forced marriage to a repulsive neighbor. She dressed as a young man named Frank Thompson, came to Hartford, CN, and became a traveling bookseller for a publishing company. The firm sent Frank west, and in Flint, MI, he d ...more
Jessica Harrison
Jan 13, 2013 Jessica Harrison rated it it was amazing
full review at Cracking the Cover

Some of the best stories are based in truth. Such is the case with “A Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero.”

Sarah Emma Edmonds fought in the Civil War. That wouldn’t be such a novel idea if she had been a man, but it was almost unheard of for a woman to serve as a soldier. Sarah dressed as a man and used the name Frank Thompson.

Sarah became Frank before the war, finding she was able to move freely and accomplish more when
Jul 03, 2013 Casey rated it it was amazing
“I know you love your country,” the man says kindly, “but you’ll need to grow up a bit before you join the army.” He looks at my peachy cheeks, free of any sign of a whisker. “We aren’t taking sixteen-year-olds.”

Frank Thompson silently debated with the old man in his head. He realized he looked more like a boy than a man, but he truly was 19-years-old and plenty old enough to fight for the Union. Three years ago he began working and supporting himself with odd jobs as he moved away from what he
May 27, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from the first page to the last. In the middle of reading this book, I saw that the author was also the author of the "Amelia" book journals that I used to read as a kid. It was nice to meet up with this author again later as an adult. I was impressed with the storytelling, and it kept me turning the pages with anticipation as to what would happen next.

The reason why I felt that way was because this was a true story. That always makes me more excited to find out what happens n
Jun 09, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it
I suppose, if I knew nothing about Sarah Emma Edmonds/Frank Thompson, if I knew nothing of women who disguised themselves to fight in the Civil War, if I enjoyed sappy romances....I might have enjoyed the story. But I didn't. Because Sarah Emma Edmonds/Frank Thompson was one of my heroines growing up. I read fictitious stories, biographies, any story I could get my hands on about her or the females who disguised themselves to fight. And so while I picked this book up with deep interest, I should ...more
Samantha K.
I adored this book. I feel like there is not much need for me to go back and mention the same summaries as other reviewers. I would just like to express my opinion on how the author changed the last portion of the book to suit her need to include some kind of closure for Sarah and Jerome. I am beyond thankful that she completed this chapter. It does little harm to the rest of the book, especially since it is a fictionalized account of her true story. Additional facts are presented after the stor ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Jkrowlingrocks rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who masqueraded as a man named Frank Thompson during the Civil War. Among her many adventures, she was a nurse on the battlefield and a spy for the Union Army, and was captured by (and escaped from) the Confederates. The novel is narrated by Sarah, offering readers an in-depth look not only at the Civil War but also at her journey to self-discovery as she grapples with living a lie and falling in love with one of her fellow soldiers.

This book intrigued me
Aug 26, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ria Potter
Sep 27, 2015 Ria Potter rated it really liked it
I really loved this book! Such bravery and heroism and inspiration from a cool historical women that fit my category of ‘women being awesome’. Sarah Edmonds was a brilliant woman, and I really enjoyed reading about her life. Admittedly, there are a few parts in the book that actually protest that such a life seems very overly dramatized-and I couldn’t agree more. Still, what’s a story without a bit of flair for drama?

Sarah-masquerading as Frank Thompson-is strong, but worries a lot about being
Tsippie Revier
Nov 14, 2015 Tsippie Revier rated it it was ok
The book started out well, and after a few chapters I felt it going downhill. The story kept changing, and when it wasn't changing it was repetetive. Alot of the descriptions were a waist of time and I just skipped passages at a time (Something I never do).
American Mensa
Nov 16, 2015 American Mensa rated it it was amazing
A Soldier’s Secret tells the true story of Sarah Edmonds, a woman who disguised herself as a man and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Having escaped the domineering control of her father, Sarah left home at just 16 to live life on her own terms, as a man. She eventually rose through the Army’s ranks, and worked as a nurse and spy who retrieved vital information by living beyond enemy lines. Her valiant efforts made her a Civil War Hero, and the first woman recognized for her effor ...more
Oct 13, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
quick, easy, pretty entertaining.
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Who is Marissa Moss anyway?

I’ve been making children’s books for a looooong time. I sent my first picture book to publishers when I was nine, but it wasn’t very good and they didn’t publish it. I didn’t try again until I was a grown-up and then it took five years of sending out stories, getting them rejected, revising them and sending them back over and over until I got my first book. Now I’ve pub
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