Continental General Benjamin Lincoln
Early Life: 1733-1775
Benjamin Lincoln was born in Hingham, Massachusetts on January 24, 1733. His father was a farmer and maltman and a representative in the General Court. His family had orginally arrived in Massachusetts in 1632. In 1756, when he was twenty-three, Lincoln married Mary Cushing from Pembroke, Massachusetts. In 1757, he was elected town clerk, which was a position that both his father and grandfather had held. In 1762, he was elected justice of the peace. Starting as Adjutant of the 3rd Regiment of the Suffolk militia in July 1755, he eventually rose to Lt. Colonel by January 1772. He also served in the colonial legislature.
Revolutionary War: 1775-1777
Benjamin Lincoln began the war as a Lt. Colonel of the Massachusetts state militia when he met General George Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts in July 2, 1775. He was soon elected to the Provincial Congress and was a member of the Committee of Correspondence. In February 1776, he was promoted to Brigadier General of the militia and to Major General in May 1776. On August 2, 1776, he was given command of the Massachusets troops around Boston.
In September 1776, Lincoln commanded militia regiments involved in the defense of New York. About this time, he came to Washington's attention and commanding the right wing at the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. In January, 1777, he participated in actions around Fort Independence (see below). On February 19, 1777, the Continental Congress commissioned Benjmain Lincoln into the Continental Army as the 16th Major General. Shortly thereafter, Lincoln, leading militia reinforcements, joined General Washington in Winter Quarters at Morristown, Pennsylvania.
Fort Independence, New York: January 17-25, 1777
Lincoln commanded forces during Maj. General William Heath's manuevers against Fort Independence, New York on January 17-25, 1777. Heath broke his forces into three groups, one of which was commanded by Lincoln, to undertake an envelopment of the British positions. When he reached the fort itself, his order for surrender was instead met by artillery. After several days, the British sallied forth with a sortie and scattered Heath's forces. This, along with news of a coming blizzard, convinced Heath to withdraw. The disgrace that fell to Heath after this failure did not spill over onto Lincoln.
Bound Brook, New Jersey: April 13, 1777
In April 1777, General Lincoln was in command of the outpost at Bound Brook, New Jersey. Bound Brook was seven miles up the Raritan River from the British outpost at Brunswick, where 8,000 British and German troops were located. On April 13th, Lt. General Charles Cornwallis moved up with 2,000 men in an effort to cut the outpost off. Cornwallis was able to cross the Raritan where militia were supposed to be on guard. The efforts of Lt. Simon Spalding allowed Lincoln to escape Cornwallis' encirclement with most of his troops, only losing his artillery. Cornwallis then withdrew before Maj. General Nathanael Greene arrived with reinforcements.
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