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, she gets in as a nurse. She tends to the ill and wounded, delivers mail, writes letters, and occasionally goes on missions as a spy. Only one man, Jerome, knows that she is actually a woman. She has romantic feelings for him, which is awkward, but he keeps her secret. Sarah's adventures are many, and she is glad to be in the army, but when she becomes ill, she must leave, go back to being a woman, and seek medical attention. Frank Thompson is wanted for desertion, so Sarah tries to earn a living by doing one thing she does well-- writing. She writes a memoir of her time in the army, and it is published. Years after the war, she finds several of her comrades to write letters of recommendation for her so that she can apply for a discharge and pension. Based on the true story.
Tons of detail about ordinary life in the military, plus a lot of coverage of fighting and action. Biographies and resources at the end of the book. Illustrations. Extraordinarily well researched!