Lincoln rejoined Washington outside New York in August 1778, and was appointed commander of the Southern department in September. Washington sent Lincoln, Lafayette and Lee (Henry "Light Horse Harry") to the Southern Department to oppose the British army under Clinton and Cornwallis. Lincoln participated in the unsuccessful French-led "siege of "Savannah, Georgia in October 1779, after which he retreated to "Charleston, South Carolina. He took command of the garrison of Charleston. In March 1780 the city was surrounded by a sizable British force dispatched from New York. After a "relatively brief siege Lincoln was forced to surrender more than 5,000 men to Lieutenant General "Sir Henry Clinton on May 12, 1780, but did so in a way that allowed the South Carolina militia to escape as well as some Continental forces, that annoyed the British toward Lincoln.
Lincoln, desperate for more troops, had pleaded with the "South Carolina legislature to arm 1,000 enslaved African Americans to ward off the approaching British. Rather than see armed slaves, the legislature began negotiations with the British commanders to allow the British forces to pass through South Carolina.
The loss of the southern army at Charleston was one of the worst Continental defeats of the war. He was denied the honors of war in surrendering, due to the British annoyance at his facilitating the escape of SC militia units and some Continental forces, such as those with Lafayette and Lee, which deeply rankled Lincoln. Lincoln was "paroled, and in the court of inquiry no charges were ever brought against him. The British subsequently sought to enlist large numbers of black soldiers.
After being exchanged for the British Major General "William Phillips in November 1780, Lincoln returned to Washington's main army. He led a large portion of the Army south from Head of Elk Maryland to Hampton, "Virginia, to march to the west to Yorktown where the British were encamped. Lincoln played a major role in the "Siege of Yorktown and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis on October 19, 1781. The legend of Cornwallis pleading illness, so did not attend the surrender ceremony, choosing instead to send his second-in-command, the Irish General "Charles O'Hara so in response, General Washington refused to accept O'Hara's sword, directing O'Hara to present it instead to Lincoln, his second-in-command, does not reflect the facts history or military protocol. As 'victor" Washington set the terms for the surrender of the British, and he chose as his negotiator, Colonel Laurens of South Carolina, who surrendered with General Lincoln in Charleston. Washington designated that General Lincoln, his second in command, to accept the surrender, sort of an act of "turn about is fair play", so by military protocol, General Cornwallis was proper in sending out his second in command, General O'Hara. General O'Hara attempted to surrender to the French General Rochambeau, but the French general pointed O'Hara to General Lincoln, as Washington had designated in the negotiations before the actual surrender ceremony.
From 1781 to late 1783, Lincoln served as the first "United States Secretary of War. He was appointed by the "Confederation Congress under the "Articles of Confederation. He was succeeded in the post by "Henry Knox. He was elected a Fellow of the "American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1781.
In 1787, Lincoln was a member of the Massachusetts state convention that ratified the "United States Constitution. Earlier in 1787, Lincoln helped put an end to an uprising of farmers known as "Shays' Rebellion. The uprising, one of whose consequences was increased calls for a stronger central U.S. government, ended when Lincoln's militia attacked the rebels and forced them to surrender in February.
Lincoln was one of only 10 men who received electoral votes during the first election for President and Vice President of the United States, receiving the vote of an unrecorded elector from the State of Georgia.
Lincoln also served as one of the first trustees of "Derby Academy, founded in Hingham by Sarah Hersey Derby, widow of a wealthy Salem shipping magnate.
He stayed active in public life in various capacities, including a term as "Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and many years as the Collector of the "Port of Boston. He retired from public life in 1809 and died in Hingham on May 9, 1810.
Lincoln is buried in the Old Ship Burying Ground behind the "Old Ship Church in Hingham. Among the pallbearers at Lincoln's funeral were "John Adams, "Cotton Tufts, "Robert Treat Paine, Richard Cranch and "Thomas Melvill. In Lincoln's honor, the bells at Boston and other places were tolled for an hour; the flags of vessels, and those at "Fort Independence and "Fort Warren, as well as those at the "Charlestown Navy Yard were lowered to half-mast.
He was one of the few men to have been involved in the three major surrenders of the "American Revolutionary War: twice as a victor (at Yorktown and Saratoga), and once as the defeated party (at Charleston). In spite of the major role he played during the war, he tends to be less well-remembered than many of his contemporaries in the Continental Army.
Places named "Lincoln" in the "American South tend to be named after Benjamin Lincoln rather than "Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President (the two were not related). Counties and/or towns in "Alabama, "Georgia, "Kentucky, "Missouri, "North Carolina, and "Tennessee are named in his honor, as are communities in "North Carolina ("Lincolnton), "Vermont ("Lincoln), and "Maine ("Lincolnville). Streets in "Columbia, "South Carolina and "Savannah, "Georgia bear his name, as does Lincoln Hall at the "United States Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, Virginia.
"Lincoln's lifelong home still stands. It was declared a "National Historic Landmark in 1972, and is listed on the "National Register of Historic Places.
|""||"Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article about Benjamin Lincoln.|
|New office||"United States Secretary at War
Title next held by"Henry Knox
|"United States Senate|
|"Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts