Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)


Joshua Lamb
MSA SC 3520-17420

Biography:

Joshua Lamb enlisted as a corporal in the Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment, lead by John Day Scott, on February 15, 1776.

The Seventh Company began their military career by training in Annapolis for six months.  They then marched north, reaching Philadelphia by mid-July 1776 and New York by August 14.  They positioned themselves about one mile outside of New York with orders to prepare for battle.  According to William Sands, a sergeant in the Seventh Company, they “had lost a great many of [their] troops [which] deserted from...Philadelphia and Elizabethtown, and a great many [were] sick in the hospital,” so the regiment was weakened before entering combat.  [1]

The Seventh Company first met the British at the Battle of Brooklyn (Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776, where the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, fought to defend New York.  American troops were severely outnumbered and surrounded when they were ordered to retreat.  While the Seventh Company was withdrawing, they were again ambushed by British troops.  About half of the First Maryland Regiment stayed behind to fight off the British long enough for the rest of the Americans to safely escape.  Casualties were extreme, but so was the heroism that earned them the honorable name of the “Maryland 400.”  Fortunately, the Seventh Company escaped without immense casualties, losing fewer than ten out of approximately 75 troops.  Maryland losses totalled 256 men killed or captured, but without the Maryland 400, even more would have been lost.  Despite their courageous actions, the battle was a defeat for the Americans. [2]

The Maryland Regiment helped secure America’s first victory at the Battle of Harlem Heights in September 1776 where they were praised for their “gallant behavior” and “splendid spirit and animation.”  They fought again at the Battle of White Plains in October where, despite the Maryland troops’ immense improvement, there was no clear victory.  Unfortunately, the First Maryland Regiment suffered greatly, including the loss of John Day Scott, the captain of the Seventh Company.

Lamb survived the battles and re-enlisted on December 10, 1776 when the First Maryland Regiment was reorganized. He was demoted some time in 1776 to private, but in August 1777 Lamb was promoted to sergeant.  As a non-commissioned officer, Lamb was expected to be highly trained, experienced in combat, and trusted to have a leadership position necessary for maintaining the solidarity of the troops.  This was especially important considering most of the First Maryland Regiment had no military experience prior to the outbreak of the war. [3]

While on leave in the summer of 1777, Joshua Lamb married Sarah Slicer in their common home town of Annapolis.  Unfortunately he was not home for very long, as he was called back to service in August. The First Maryland Regiment fought at the bloody Battle of Brandywine, the Battle at Germantown, and the Battle of Staten Island; all were British victories, however the Battle at Germantown was reported by John Adams to be considered the “most decisive proof that America would finally succeed.”

Lamb was discharged on December 27, 1779 after serving a long enlistment of almost four years.  He was finally able to return to Annapolis and spend time with his new wife Sarah on their half-acre estate. Sarah was born in Annapolis in 1749.  She and her first husband, a man with the last name of Slicer, had one child, Andrew, who was born around 1773.  Her first husband passed away shortly after the birth of their son.  During her marriage to Lamb, Sarah had her second child, John, on January 17, 1780, and the two boys “grew up together in [their] mother’s...family.” Later in life, Andrew recalled “being asked at the time [of the marriage] whether [he] intended [on] calling him (Lamb) father. [4]

Unfortunately, Joshua Lamb died at sea later that year.  He was on his third voyage to the West Indies on the Sloop Dispatch, a privateer, under command of Captain Thomas Walker when all cargo, crew members, and the vessel were lost. [5]

After the death of Joshua Lamb, Sarah married Thomas Windham in 1785.  They had three children: George Washington, Charles, and Eleanor.  Windham, also a Revolutionary War veteran from the Maryland 400, died in 1793.  Sarah never again married. By age sixty-one she lived somewhere in Annapolis, perhaps with her daughter Eleanor. [6]

Sarah applied to receive Federal veterans pensions as a widow of both Lamb and Windham.  Applicants needed to provide records of marriage, which was unfortunately not possible for Sarah and Lamb.  St. Anne’s Church was unavailable for the wedding because of construction throughout the war.  The pastor from a nearby church performed their ceremony, but it appears a certificate was never written. [7]

Sarah was well respected by all who knew her, but by the time she applied for the pension she was “over eighty years of age and [was] very infirm,” so her grandson Henry Slicer wrote the appeal for her.  Her son with Lamb had already passed away by this time.  Slicer petitioned the “representatives of those states whose liberties were won by the valor of her husband and his companions in arms - believing that justice will be done her.”  [8]

On August 25, 1838, ninety-year-old Sarah received the pension due her in accordance to the service of her husband Windham.  On March 3, 1839, she received Lamb’s pension through a Special Act of Congress. On behalf of Lamb, she received half the pay of a sergeant, or $120, annually. [9]

By age ninety-two, Sarah lived with her daughter Eleanor. She passed away on August 5, 1841 after a long life full of love and loss. [10]

-Natalie Miller, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2017

Notes:

[1] William Sands to John and Ann Sands, 14 August 1776, Maryland State Archives, Special Collections, Dowsett Collection of Sands Family Papers [MSA SC 2095-1-18, 00/20/05/28].

[2] Mark Andrew Tacyn, "To the End: The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution," (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 48-73; Extract of a letter from New-York: Account of the battle on Long-Island, 1 September  1776, American Archives Online, series 5, vol. 2, p. 107; General Smallwood, Payroll, 1776-1777, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, box 6, folder 7, MdHR 19970-6-7 [MSA S997-6, 01/07/03/011].

[3] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, from Fold3.com; Tacyn, 177; General Smallwood, Payroll.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 132; Compiled Service Records.

[5] General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, 1783, Anne Arundel County, Annapolis Hundred, p. 3 [MSA S 1161-1-1 1/4/5/44].

[6] Pension of Joshua Lamb, National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, W 9168, from Fold3.com; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1778-1779, vol 23, p. 383; United States Federal Census, 1810, Anne Arundel County, City of Annapolis.

[7] St. Anne’s Parish, “The History of St. Anne’s.”

[8] Pension.

[9] Pension.

[10] Pension.

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