Sarah Osborn Benjamin

Portrait of Sarah Osborn Benjamin
TitleSoldier's Wife
War & AffiliationRevolutionary War / American
Date of Birth - Death1743-1858

Sarah Osborn Benjamin was born on November 17, 1743, in Goshen in Orange County, New York. She witnessed frontier struggles between European Colonists and Native Americans. 

During the Revolutionary War, she may have observed Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant and British loyalists fighting with patriot militia during the Battle of Minisink in July 1779. That same year she married Aaron Osborn, an American soldier, and agreed to go with him to the military camps. There—while her husband served on the commissary guard—Sarah Osborn found employment washing and mending clothes for some of the soldiers. Sarah spent at least three winters with the Continental Army at encampment locations like West Point and Newburgh. 

She went with her husband and the army as his unit transferred by ship to the Virginia Peninsula to take part in the Siege of Yorktown. While the American and French soldiers, sieged and trapped a British army at Yorktown, Sarah continued her duties of cooking, mending, and washing. One day while she carried food to the soldiers in the Yorktown entrenchments under artillery fire, General George Washington asked her, “Are you not afraid of the cannonballs?” he inquired. “No,” she replied. “It would not do for the men to fight and starve too.”

After the British surrendered, Sarah watched the spectacle of the defeated army marching out of Yorktown to "a melancholy tune." Sarah continued to offer her assistance where needed. Following the Continental Army's victory in late 1781, Sarah followed Aaron as he was redeployed back to the northern colonies. They spent more time and winters at Newburgh before Aaron Osborn was discharged from military service.

Sarah had two children at Newburgh, a daughter named Phebe and a son named Aaron, Jr. Just months after she gave birth to Aaron Jr., her husband abandoned her and the children—going to live with another woman. Sarah found him and confronted him about his behavior before eventually taking her children and moving to Blooming Grove in Orange County, New York. In 1787 Sarah married another Revolutionary War veteran, John Benjamin, and moved with him to Pennsylvania. 

Following her husband John Benjamin’s death in 1827, Sarah applied for a widow’s pension. She eventually received two pensions—one for the service of both of her veteran husbands, and one in recognition of her own. Sarah Osborn Benjamin lived until May 1858 and died in the Mount Pleasant Township of Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Through her own writings and the memories of her friends and acquaintances, her life reveals that she was not “an idle spectator of events." 


Related Battles

Virginia | September 28, 1781
Result: American Victory
Estimated Casualties