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Anna Maria Lane Pension

  • Anna Maria Lane, Revolutionary Pension, January 28, 1808
  • Anna Maria Lane, Revolutionary Pension, January 28, 1808
In this 1808 letter, Governor Cabell asked the legislature to provide a pension for Anna Maria Lane, a woman who fought during the Revolutionary War.
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    Land Office Military Warrant, Issued to Moses Wade, June 12, 1783
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Anna Maria Lane, Revolutionary Pension, January 28, 1808

In this excerpt from the letter of Governor William H. Cabell to the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Hugh Nelson, dated January 28, 1808, the governor singled out several men and two women who deserved pensions. One woman was Anna Maria Lane, to whom the General Assembly granted a pension of $100 a year. Her husband, John Lane, was also a soldier in the American Revolution, but he received a pension of $40 a year because, unlike his wife, he was not disabled by a wound.

Lane, like many other women during the American Revolution, had followed her husband to war. Known as camp followers, a term that to many people suggested that they were prostitutes, most of the women performed a variety of vital tasks. They filled the roles of laundresses, cooks, nurses, and even spies, and in some instances earned money by performing those services and often drew rations, as did the soldiers. During battles, women cared for the sick and carried water to the soldiers, and a few, like Lane, filled in when a male soldier fell. Not much is known about Lane's life, but she dressed “in the garb” and served “with the courage of a soldier.” At the Battle of Germantown, on October 3, 1777, she was wounded in the leg and remained lame for the remainder of her life. Following the war, she and her husband resided in Virginia. At the time of the governor's recommendation to the General Assembly, they resided near Capitol Square, where her husband worked for the Public Guard, a forerunner of the Virginia Capitol Police.

Women contributed to American independence in many other, more traditional ways. They spun, wove, and sewed, creating “homespun” cloth that people wore in place of imported fabrics. They participated in the boycott of English goods, including tea, before and during the war, and they raised money for the troops. With male relatives off at war, many women took over management of farms and plantations or of family businesses.

For Educators


1. How did Anna Maria Lane participate in the American Revolution?

2. In what ways did women participate in the war?

3. Why did George Washington not like camp followers?

Further Discussion

1. Were women necessary to the camps? If they had not been in the camps to provide the services they did, would they have been missed? What would have changed?

2. Women played important roles at home and in the camps during the American Revolution. How did their participation affect the way women were viewed and their expectations after the war?

3. Compare the life and experiences of Anna Maria Lane with those of Margaret Corbin and Mary Hays, two other famous female veterans of the American Revolution. What do their stories have in common?


Working Out Her Destiny: Women's History in Virginia

Video: Women of the American Revolution: Anna Maria Lane

Suggested Reading

Treadway, Sandra Gioia. “Anna Maria Lane: An Uncommon Soldier of the American Revolution.” Virginia Cavalcade 37, no. 3 (1988): 134–143.

Danyluk, Kaia K. “Women and the Revolutionary War.” Colonial Williamsburg Interpreter (Fall 1997): 8–13.

Mayer, Holly. Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

They have selected and retained those who are capable of rendering the most effective service, and on whose principles, it is believed, the greatest reliance may be placed,—Of those who have been discharged, there are a few who situations the Executive deem it their duty to make known to the Legislature—Prior to the Establishment of the Public Guard, it will be recollected that the Public arms were deposited at the Point of Fork under a Guard there stationed—In that Guard there were many persons who had faithfully served their Country during the whole, or a greater part of the Revolutionary War, and after its termination had joined and continued in the Establishment of the Point of Fork—When the Public Guard was established in this City, the law particularly provided that such of the Guard at the Point of Fork as chose to join the Guard here, should be permitted to do so—Under this provision some old soldiers who had fought our battles in the Revolutionary contest, were received as members of the Guard in the City, altho' from their age and infirmities, they were not capable of performing very effective duty. When entirely unable to perform military duty, they were employed as artificers on cleaning the arms—It is not believed that they can no longer be employed to advantage now in that way—It may be literally & truly said that they have been worn out in the public service; and now, without property or money, and their age and infirmities rendering them unable to procure either, they must be sent forth to beg or starve, unless the humanity of the Legislature shall interfere—Their names are John Hays, William Hipkins, & John Lane—The wife of the last Anna Maria Lane is also very infirm having been disabled by a severe wound which she received while fighting, as a common soldier, in one of our Revolutionary battles, from which she has never recovered and perhaps never will recover.—Robert Broadeus, altho' not transferred from the Point of Fork, served seven years in the Revolutionary war, and has been a member of the Public Guard—He is now old, infirm, in a low state of health, & incapable of procuring the means of subsistence. To these permit me to add the name of Sarah Perry, the widow of Hildebert Perry who was also a soldier in our Revolutionary war, was at the point of Fork during the whole of the Establishment there, and then joined the Guard in this City, in which he continued until his death, when he was a meritorious Sergeant—His widow is left with several small children, without the means of support.
In recommending these persons to the humanity, if not the justice, of the Legislature, I have confined myself to a naked statement of facts—They will speak more loudly than any arguments I could use.
I am with the highest respect
Sir Yr mo: Obt St
WM H. Cabell