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Lot Number: 111
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Colonel Marbury (Later General) Autograph Letter Signed to “The Honble Major General (Benjamin) Lincoln / On Public Service” Integral Address Leaf, Docket is in Lincoln’s Hand

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January 22, 1779-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Autograph Letter Signed, “Leo’d Marbury” to Major General Lincoln, With “On Public Service” Integral Address Leaf, mentioning that Colonel (Samuel) Elbert (Later the Governor of Georgia) was Appointed General by the Georgia House of Representatives, and in Washington’s Army, Very Fine.

This excellent, historic content Revolutionary War Letter Signed, “Leo’d Marbury” (Leonard), sent from Augusta, Georgia, measures about 6.75” x 8.5” having 2 written pages, tipped to a outer surround for presentation, measuring to 7.25” x 9” with all handwritten text easily readable and displayed. Small repair to edge paper where opened, not affecting any text. Here, Colonel Marbury of Georgia writes to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, with the Letter’s Docket written by General Lincoln’s Hand.

In 1778, General Washington placed Benjamin Lincoln in charge of the Continental Army Southern Department, a very large and independent command. Lincoln commanded his soldiers to join the 1779 French Siege of Savannah, Georgia, but the siege failed. Lincoln and his men retreated to Charleston, South Carolina, but in 1780, British forces besieged the city. Lincoln was forced to surrender at Charleston with over 5,000 men to the British, the largest surrender of American troops until the Civil War. Denied Honors of War in surrender by the British, General Lincoln was paroled by the British and returned to Washington’s Army. This Letter reads, in full:

“Augusta (Georgia) - January 22nd 1779 -- Sir, ---

Since my last (letter) nothing material has happened here. The Spy I mentioned to you disappointed me. I have not had an opportunity of hearing any thing from the Enemy. - Yesterday an assembly met in this place & proceeded to the Election of an Officer to Comd. the Militia of this State. A Committee was appointed to Confer with Col. Elbert & Request him to take the Command, & on their Report to the House, he was Unanimously Elected as Brigadier General.

I have sent to Charlestown for Saddles, have purchased ab’t 20 Horses & expect by Monday to Mount forty men. Exclusive of this I have given instructions to some Gentlemen agreeable to the inclosed by which means I hope to get Sixty or Seventy more. -- I shall want about Twenty thousand dollars to Complete the purchases of the Horses, Saddles, etc. mentioned for which Sum please give an Order to the bearer Capt. Cowper. --- I am With the greatest Respect - Dr. (Dear) Sir your most Obt. Hble Servt. -- (Signed) Leo’d Marbury”

This Letter’s original Engraved Design Red Wax Embossed Seal is fully intact and clear. Docket, written in Benjamin Lincoln’s Hand, reads, in full: “From - Col. Marbury - Jany 22nd 1779”. This lot also includes an early Engraving titled, “Major General Benjamin Lincoln” by T. Illman, with his large signature in facsimile below, after the original painting by Col. Sargeant, in the collection of the Mass. Historical Society. (2 items)

The Manuscript Library of the University of Georgia records: Georgia. Governor Samuel Elbert: “March 3rd, 1785, Petition of Leonard Marbury, lieutenant-colonel commandant of Georgia dragoons or the Continental Line, to Governor and Council requesting the gratuity allowed officers for Revolutionary War Service for himself, Major Lee DeKeyser, Captain John Cooper, Captain Samuel West, Lieutenant Robert Faris, Lieutenant William McDaniel, Cornet Horatio Marbury, and Adjutant Patrick Walsh. (Signed) Leonard Marbury, a Copy to Ignatius Few”.

Colonel Leonard Marbury entered the service of the United States under Colonel Leonard Marbury & Captain Middleton -- under the promise from the said Colonel L Marbury that he would be careful of him whilst he was with him in the service of the United States as a soldier.

Leonard aforesaid was in the service of the United States under Colonel Leonard Marbury & Captain Middleton this opinion prevailed in my father's family uniformly. Luke aforesaid saith as near as he can recollect the next time he saw his brother Leonard it was at a time when a considerable Troop of British & Tories came through the Country up to Savannah River destroying the property of the Whigs as they came on where his father had fled across the River with many others for safety.

It is at this place I next saw my brother Leonard engaged in fight with the British & Tories & shooting across the River at them, there he saw his brother Leonard shoot at what he supposed to be a British officer & saw after the guns fired several of the British run to him and take them off of his horse. It was afterwards said the officer's thy (sic, thigh) was broken.

At this place Colonel Marbury comes up with his Troop of horse & took prisoners the most of the said British & Tories here at this place Luke says his brother Leonard departed again with the American Army & was no more seen by him till he saw him in North Carolina where his father had moved to. There he testifies his brother Leonard was well received by the true Whigs of that Country.

Eleanor G. Moore aforesaid says she does well recollect seeing Leonard Marbury engaged in fighting the British & Tories at Savannah River & distinctly recollects carrying ammunition to Leonard Marbury where he was engaged in shooting across the Savannah River at the British & Tories whilst the bullets were flying & whizzing plentifully -- among the Americans across the River from the Enemy -- at this place she says Colonel Leonard Marbury took the British & Tories prisoners.

She said she is so fully persuaded of the facts in relation to the services of Leonard Marbury that she has no existing doubt but that Leonard Marbury was in chiefly all of the whole of the Revolutionary war & that she was so situated as to know that he was engaged at sundry times & chiefly in the service of the United States but cannot say as to time precisely or the particular engagements & that she knows he was considered a faithful soldier who was applauded for such after his Returned at the end of the war & well received by the Whigs of that Country & also recollects his return home from the war to North Carolina with military clothing on so as to impress her with the belief he had for some office.


Commanding General George Washington made Benjamin Lincoln his Second-in-Command for the Yorktown Campaign. Meeting up with French troops, the American forces successfully trapped the British forces in Yorktown. The Siege at Yorktown devastated British troops and forced General Lord Charles Cornwallis to surrender to the Americans.

Cornwallis feigned illness to avoid having to appear before the American and French armies. Instead, Cornwallis ordered his second, General Charles O’Hara, to deliver his Sword in surrender to the Americans. General Washington, insulted, had Benjamin Lincoln accept the surrender, therefore refusing to be disrespected by Cornwallis and allowing Major General Lincoln to have revenge for his defeat in Charleston.

After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Lincoln was appointed by the Confederation Congress to be the First U.S. Secretary at War, a position created by the Articles of Confederation, and modeled after Britain’s Secretary at War. Lincoln served in this position from 1781 to 1783. He was replaced by Henry Knox who would later become the First U.S. Secretary of War under the government created by the Constitution.

After his brief stint in the Confederation’s government, Lincoln returned to what he was doing before the Revolution, leading small governments and Commanding a militia. Lincoln served various public offices in his late life, notably as a Suffolk County representative at the Constitutional Convention.

He remained true to his militia roots and helped to lead 3,000 men to put down Shay’s Rebellion in Western Massachusetts. He retired from public life in 1809, having given all he could to the new country, and died the next year in 1810.

Lincoln’s military career was one of great victories but also great defeats. He was the only soldier present at all three great victories of the revolution-twice as a victor and once in defeat. Though his career was often marred by great defeat and lack of experience, his last moment as a Major General in the Continental Army was accepting the surrender that ended the war.

John Trumball’s classic painting, “The Surrender of Cornwallis” still hangs in the U.S. Capital, immortalizing Benjamin Lincoln as the man who accepted the surrender of the British.
Lot Number: 111
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Estimate Range: $1,800 - $2,400
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