The victory at Yorktown would not have been possible without the contributions of countless women. During the Revolutionary War, women managed businesses and farms while men were away at the front lines. They served as nurses and as spies. Some followed the Continental Army, mending uniforms and cooking meals. A few even fought in battle. While perhaps not as famous as Deborah Sampson or Molly Pitcher, Virginia’s own Anna Maria Lane is an example of such a woman.
Originally from New England and born sometime in the 1730s, historians believe that she became a “camp follower” when her husband, John, enlisted in the Continental Army in 1776. At some point, she decided to put on a man’s uniform and serve as a soldier. She reportedly fought in battles in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Anna Maria was wounded in the leg on October 4, 1777, during the Battle of Germantown in Pennsylvania. This injury left her with a permanent disability.
Despite this injury, Anna Maria continued fighting alongside her husband when he re-enlisted in the Virginia Light Dragoons. She was with him when he was wounded in the Siege of Savannah in 1779. They both served until the end of the major fighting in 1781.
In 1808, at the request of Governor William H. Cabell, the Virginia General Assembly awarded her a veteran’s pension, and she became one of only three women in the United States to receive a pension for service during the Revolutionary War. Her pension record explains: “In the Revolutionary War, in the garb, and with the courage of a soldier, [she] performed extraordinary military service at the Battle of Germantown.” The details of this “extraordinary military service” are lost to history, but they must have been impressive. She was awarded a pension of $100, 2 ½ times more than the typical pension for veterans. She continued receiving the pension until her death in 1810.
To learn more about Anna Maria Lane and see possible discussion questions for your local society meeting, download the Patriots of the Round Table Anna Maria Lane Fact Sheet.