Historical Markers
Sarah Mary Benjamin Historical Marker
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Sarah Mary Benjamin

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
PA 371 near W end of Pleasant Mount

Dedication Date:
May 30, 1992

Behind the Marker

Women were important contributors to the Revolutionary War effort. They led boycotts of British manufactured products, provided indispensable military intelligence, organized cottage industries to produce uniforms, gunpowder and shot, and followed their husbands into battle in order to care for the soldiers of the Continental Army. Sarah Mary Benjamin traveled with her husband's New York unit between 1780 and 1783, sewing, washing, and baking bread. On at least one occasion she also did garrison duty. Although her involvement in the war is better documented than marker"Molly Pitcher's," her story reflects the same elements of myth and cultural stereotype that made her a minor celebrity in post-Revolutionary America.

Born at Blooming Grove, New York, in the mid-1750s, Sarah Mathews was the daughter of a Connecticut family that had moved from Pennsylvania's northern frontier during the French and Indian War. After a marriage to William Read, who was killed early in the Revolutionary War, Mathews was living as a domestic servant in Albany, New York, where in 1779 she met and married another Continental soldier, Aaron Osborn. Sarah expected to return to his home in Goshen, New York, not far from her native town, but Osborn belatedly revealed that he still owed military service. The couple spent the next two years moving across the Hudson River Valley as he did garrison duty. Since most of the fighting was in the southern states at this time, the Osborns, like other northern residents, were forced to cope with monetary inflation, chronic guerilla combat between partisan units, war weariness, and sagging morale.

In her old age, Sarah often described an incident in which she did guard duty in her husband's place at Knightsbridge, on the Harlem River, while General Washington considered making an assault on the British headquarters in New York City. Not realizing that she was a woman, Washington queried her before deciding to move the army to Virginia instead. There, with French help, Washington's forces trapped the British Army at Yorktown, and began a siege to compel its surrender. Sarah's conversation with Washington may or may not have happened, but memories can sometimes evolve to encompass symbolic events as well as actual ones. Regardless, guard duty was the exception for Sarah Osborn. She mostly did domestic service for her husband's comrades, carrying water and food to them in the trenches.

After Yorktown, Sarah and Aaron Osborn returned to the Hudson Valley and lived in abandoned soldiers" huts near West Point. Shortly after, Osborn deserted her and married another woman. In 1787, Sarah married John Benjamin. In 1822, the couple moved to Pleasant Mount, Wayne County, not far from the Wyoming Valley, where her ancestors once lived. While John Benjamin lived off a federal pension, Sarah supported herself as a clothes maker. According to the witness depositions to her pension application, Sarah Benjamin was, in old age, a wizened and revered person. She lived to be a centenarian, still telling tales about her participation in the American Revolution.
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