In her memoir, Edmonds stated that while working as a bible salesman in Flint, Michigan, she was sitting in a train station when she heard the news about the outbreak of the war and knew she had to take action:
I was aroused by my reverie by a voice in the street crying ‘New York Herald – Fall of Fort Sumter – President’s Proclamation – Call for seventy-five thousand men!’ This announcement startled me, while my imagination portrayed the coming struggle in all its fearful magnitude…It is true, I was not an American – I was not obliged to stay here during this terrible strife – I could return to my native land where my parents would welcome me to the home of my childhood, and my brothers and sisters would rejoice at my coming. But these were not the thoughts which occupied my mind. It was not my intention, or desire, to seek my own personal ease and comfort while so much sorrow and distress filled the land. But the great question to be decided, was, what can I do? What part am I to act in this great drama? I was not able to decided for myself – so I carried this question to the Throne of Grace and found a satisfactory answer there.
Download an excellent PDF file on Sarah Emma Edmonds.
Sarah lived from 1841 to 1898. In 1865 she published: Nurse and spy in the Union army: comprising the adventures and experiences of a woman in hospitals, camps and battle-fields / by S. Emma E. Edmonds.
Read more about her here.