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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : community : e-community October 15, 2021

5/8/2021 8:20:00 AM
Lincoln County's Namesake

Compiled by Jennifer Baker

America turns 245 this year.  That means we're just five years away from our country;s 250th birthday!  The United States Semiquincentennial (also called Sestercentennial or Quarter Millennial) on July 4th, 2026 will be the 250th anniversary of the 1776 establishment of the United States of America.  

This week, the Lincoln Herald presents the second in a series of articles from the Vesuvius Furnace DAR chapter,  who, working with the Jacob Forney DAR chapter and the Catawba Valley SAR, is providing these articles.

While America turns 245 this year, Lincoln County (NC) turns 242.  There are 24 Lincoln counties in the US.  Of those 17 are thought to have been named for the 16th US President, Abraham Lincoln (one of those may or may not have been), five of them--including our own--were named for Benjamin Lincoln.  From the DAR, here's the story:

Lincoln County's Namesake

The formation of Lincoln County occurred in the midst of the American Revolution when Tryon County was dissolved in 1779 forming Lincoln and Rutherford Counties. Lincoln County was named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. A prominent man in Massachusetts politics and a fierce adversary to Parliamentary taxation, Benjamin Lincoln made a name and a reputation for himself. Following the evacuation of the British in 1776, he was promoted to Major General of the Massachusetts militia. General Lincoln was involved in three major surrenders of the American Revolution and was the nation’s first Secretary of War under President George Washington.

The first surrender he was involved in was received from British General John Burgoyne following the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.  General Lincoln served in this battle with General Horatio Gates and Major General Benedict Arnold. General Benjamin Lincoln was known as a most aggressive field commander in the Continental Army. The continental defense for this battle was designed by Polish engineer Colonel Tadeusz Kościuszko who was an accomplished military architect. The army Burgoyne faced on October 7 was more than 12,000 strong and led by General Gates who had not only received intelligence from a stream of British deserters but also intercepted General Burgoyne's plea for help. In the final skirmish, General Lincoln's right ankle was shattered by a musket ball. Lincoln was transported to Albany for treatment and where he learned of Burgoyne's October 17 surrender.

The second surrender was when General Lincoln had been commanding the Charleston garrison in 1780. The battle ensued between March 29 to May 12. Sir Henry Clinton had offered a proclamation in 1779 which promised slaves freedom if they escaped to British lines and aided their cause. Slaves left both the city and countryside around Charleston to join the British. General Lincoln was forced to surrender his forces to the British about six weeks after the siege but did so in a way that allowed the South Carolina militia to escape as well as some Continental forces which annoyed the British. Despite the escape of so many militia members, it was still considered one of the worst defeats of the war.

The final surrender was accepted by General Lincoln as George Washington’s second in command at the Battle of Yorktown on 19 October 1781. This decisive victory transpired with a combined force from the Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and Gilbert du Motier (better known as the Marquis de Lafayette) with the French Army led by Comte de Rochambeau. Their defeat was over the British contingent commanded by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis.

He was a strong supporter of the new United States Constitution and continued to serve the new nation. Lincoln served from 1781 to 1783 as the first United States Secretary of War. In 1787, Lincoln led a militia army to suppress Shays' Rebellion. He was also the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1788-1789. Following this term, he became the politically influential customs collector of the Port of Boston where he served from 1789 until shortly before his death.

General Lincoln died on 9 May 1810 at the age of 77 in Hingham, Massachusetts.

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