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Women of the American Revolution - Anna Maria Lane

Updated on November 28, 2012
American Revolutionary War Collage
American Revolutionary War Collage | Source

The American Revolution wasn’t fought only on the battlefields. It was also fought on the home front. While their men were away, many quiet and capable women took on the role of head of household and managed farms and plantations. Others made homespun cloth and boycotted tea in protest against the taxes imposed by the English Parliament. And still others chose to follow their men into war.

This story is about one such woman. Her name was Anna Maria Lane.

Portrait of Anna Maria Lane
Portrait of Anna Maria Lane | Source

Anna Maria Lane

Precious little is known about Anna Maria’s early life. She may have been born in the 1750s and hailed from New England, possibly New Hampshire. Like many girls of her generation, Anna Maria may have been able to read, but in all likelihood was never taught how to write. When she came of age, she was courted by and eventually married John Lane.

Infantry Continental Army
Infantry Continental Army | Source

The American Revolution Begins

In 1776 the American Revolution began and John enlisted in the Continental army. He participated in numerous campaigns in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Rather than stay at home where it would have been relatively safe, Anna Maria chose to accompany her husband. She became what was known as a 'camp follower'.

Camp Follwers Resting From a March
Camp Follwers Resting From a March | Source

Camp followers have been around for as long as the military has been around. Camp followers were women and, occasionally, their children who followed the military divisions to wherever they were quartered. The women were usually the wives of the soldiers and provided support services such as cooking, sewing, laundering, nursing and sometimes even espionage.

Anna Maria went one step further. She would dress in the uniform of a military man and fight side by side with her husband and the other soldiers.

Battle of Germantown
Battle of Germantown | Source

The Battle of Germantown

On the morning of 4 October 1777 the American Army, under George Washington, launched an assault on the British army led by Sir William Howe. During the Battle of Germantown, Anna Maria Lane "in the garb and with the courage of a soldier” charged into the fray. She fought as bravely as any man, receiving a severe wound during the fighting which left her lame for the rest of her life.

Life After the American Revolution

After the American Revolution, the Lanes moved to Virginia where John had obtained employment at the state arsenal in Fluvanna County. Later in 1801, the Lanes moved again and settled in Richmond. John joined the Public Guard and Anna Maria volunteered at the military hospital.

While working at the hospital, Anna Maria met Dr. John H. Foushee. It was he who appealed to Governor James Monroe (who would later become the fifth President of the United States) and the Council of State to authorize a small gratuity for her services as a nurse.

Dr. Foushee’s reasons for doing this remain unclear. Perhaps he felt sorry for her because of her disability. Or maybe he was familiar with the cause of her lameness and wanted to show his gratitude for her sacrifice. He may possibly have felt she was an exceptional nurse and deserved a reward. I don’t suppose we’ll ever really know.

Seeking Help

As the years passed, Anna Maria grew weaker and eventually became too ill to continue her duties at the hospital. She, John and several other veterans of the American Revolution approached the Virginia government for help in the form of pensions.

On 28 January 1808 in a letter to Hugh Nelson, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Governor William H. Cabell put forth his argument for awarding pensions to these men and women of the American Revolution. Anna Maria was one of those women.

In the letter, Governor Cabell asks that these veterans be given consideration in view of their services during the American Revolution. He noted that Anna Maria was in particular need of assistance due to her failing health. The severe wound she received during the fight for independence was most likely a contributing factor to her condition.

Anna Maria is Awarded Her Pension

Unfortunately, we will never know exactly what heroic feats Anna Maria performed on that fateful day at the Battle of Germantown. For reasons unknown, no one at the General Assembly had written down any notes when Anna Maria's exploits were put forth. Historian Joyce Henry has her own theory as to what might have occurred:

"We know there was one final assault on the Chew house. Meant some American soldiers made their way actually into the house, where some vicious hand-to-hand fighting ensued in the yard and in the hallways. Certainly it was a very brave act. But they did not succeed in overrunning the house.

Was Anna Maria Lane one of these who entered the house, who picked up a fallen standard, who made a valiant final charge when others were retreating? That’s my thought. Because again, her pension record states, “In the garb, and with the courage of a soldier, performed extraordinary military service and received a severe wound at the Battle of Germantown.” To me, that highlights the most, I won’t call it the decisive action, but probably one of the bloodiest and heroic actions of the Battle of Germantown."*


Memorial Marker
Memorial Marker

Soldier of the American Revolution

Whatever her deeds were, they must have been quite impressive. While the other veterans received on average $40 a year pension, The General Assembly saw fit to award Anna Maria $100 per year in consideration of her services during the American Revolution and the injury she received on the battlefield.

Two years later on 13 June 1810, Anna Maria Lane, a soldier of the American Revolution, died. While she is gone, she has not been forgotten.

In Richmond, Virginia there is a marker that commemorates her heroism in the fight for American independence from English oppression.

Video: Women of the American Revolution: Anna Maria Lane

Did you learn about any of the women of the American Revolutionary in school?

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    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      I'd not heard this story before, but it is one that deserves to be remembered. Will share it with my followers :-).

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I hadn't either. I came across her name while I was researching something else. I got curious and began researching her instead. Unfortunately there isn't much out there about her. That's why I decided to do the hub about Anna Maria.

      Thanks for reading and appreciate your sharing.

    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Wow, never heard of her before. I will share too! Interesting and voted up!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you hecate-horus. Your visit is much appreciated.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I'd not heard of Anna Maria until now. As far as the question in your poll, the ONLY woman we were told about in school who participated in the Rev War was Betsy Ross, who made the first flag. Women following their husbands from camp to camp were never mentioned, nor was the only woman known to have fought in the war disguised as a soldier. Thank you so much for Anna Maria's story!

      Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for your comments, JamaGenee.

      As far as Betsy Ross goes, she may not have been the only one to have sewn the flag and there was more to her accomplishments than that.

      While researching Anna Maria Lane, I discovered that camp followers have been around since there have been soldiers. Also Anna Maria wasn't the only woman to have fought with the men during the Revolutionary War.

      It seems history has given these and other heroic women's achievements the brush off.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Yes, I assumed Betsy Ross didn't sew the flag all by herself, and in fact I read years later who the women were who helped her. But such is how grade school textbooks water down history. I also knew all camp followers weren't the spouses and children of the soldiers, that many were simply prostitutes making a living. A common part of every war.

      There are many stories about female spies for one side of the other, but Anna is the first I'd heard of who ever fought alongside the men.

      In my own family history a however-many times great-uncle was on the side of the Colonists, but one sister was married to a British soldier. I've often wondered how that played out at family dinners and other gatherings. If memory serves, though, the brother-in-law eventually came around to the side of the Colonists and was hanged for treason.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks JamaGenee for that bit of family history. I don't imagine it made for light-hearted banter at social gatherings. Too bad about the brother-in-law though.

      Thanks for sharing that. It's good to hear about history from players other than the one in history books.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      That particular branch of my family tree DOES read like a Rev War mini-series. Accounts of the Civil War almost a century later make a big deal of "brother fighting brother", but there were just as many instances of that before and during America's War for Independence. If my outspoken female ancestors who lived during that time were the norm, I suspect women played a bigger role in the Revolution than we'll ever know. Even if they didn't don a uniform or go into battle alongside the men like Anna.

      btw, $100 a year doesn't sound like much today, but at the time Anna was awarded it, $100 was more than enough to live quite comfortably!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      You would be right. The support that these women provided was immeasurable.

      I did the calculations; $100 in 1808 would be $1,818 in today's money.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      $1,818 a year still doesn't sound like much until one remembers things were a LOT cheaper 200 years ago, plus people made or grew most of the necessities themselves - food, clothing, and household items like soap, etc. ;D

    • bryanbaldwin profile image

      bryanbaldwin 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      This was a very unique hub to read, thank you for sharing.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, bryanbaldwin. I appreciate your stopping by.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. I'd never heard of Anna Maria...and why not? We always get taught about the men in war but never get to see the women behind the war, taking care of the men and being just as brave. I loved this...very well written! Voted up, beautiful, and awesome.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, kittythedreamer, for your very kind words. I appreciate your stopping by and I'm glad you feel it was worth it.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow phoenix- Anna Maria doesn't look the type, going by her portrait, to jump into the fray of something like the battle of Germantown. Just goes to show one can't judge a woman by her looks alone and they should never be underestimated in their duty to what they perceive as a righteous cause. Thanks so much for writing and bringing her story to light here on the HP.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, I love reading about these brave women who took on and in most cases helped to beat the enemy. To be able to do that in a time of women being left at home and just used to being, well, women, Anna was an exception, and I am so glad that she got the pension she deserved and of course the recognition.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello Alastar. Yes, it is amazing what you can accomplish when you have too. I think these women didn't just surprise others but themselves as well.

      Hi Nell Rose. Anna Maria Lane was exceptional and more than earned her right to be mentioned in history. There were others who supported the cause in less obvious but equally effective ways.

      Thank you both for taking the time to read this hub. Your comments are most appreciated.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Good job. Thank you for this valuable piece of history

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you Mhatter, for stopping by. Your comment is most appreciated.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Women have always been valuable assets in all areas of life. I just wish women would understand, everything they do, is vitally important. The direction women want the world to go it goes. Very nice work.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, tirelesstraveler. I completely agree that most women underestimate how much power they really do wield.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      phoenix, this is some great history that seems so few of us have heard of! Great job! I will be sharing this. Thank you!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      You've enlightened me! Never had a word been heard about Anna Maria Lane. Shame on our school systems. A hero such as she should be up and above the ranks of tales of Paul Revere and others. Great read and extremely interesting!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      This was really interesting! I always enjoy hearing about women's contributions in history.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @TToombs - Thank you for you very kind words and the share. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      @rcrumple - I'm flattered by your comments. I'm pleased that you found my hub interesting and that I was able to pass on Anna Marie's story.

      @Glimmer Twin Fan - Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I enjoyed researching this unsung hero and writing her story.

    • SuffolkJason profile image

      SuffolkJason 4 years ago from Ipswich, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom

      Fascinating article! I would never have imagined that women would actually fight in battles at that time.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Not many could imagine that which is why so many women were able to get away with it. Some went completely undetected; somewhere discovered only when they were injured and had to be undressed to receive medical treatment.

      I don't think even these women themselves could have imagined themselves in the thick of the fighting. But war changes things and sometimes forces us to do things we normally wouldn't.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a different kind of perspective on the time period. I like the way you highlight people who likely have received little attention.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Christy, for your kind comments. I glad you liked my efforts.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and story, not heard this before but it was a very interesting read, well done !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, kashmir56, for dropping by. I appreciate your kind comments and the vote up.

    • billips profile image

      billips 4 years ago from Central Texas

      This is a great article Phoenix - you've set it up so well and the pictures just compliment your words - a great tribute to Anna Maria, and all the women, who are part of war, even if it is not of their choosing - B.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, billips for stopping in and for your kind words. While Anna Maria's actions were a bit unusual, it does highlight some of the sacrifices and achievements these women were capable of when the occasion called for it.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Came back for a second read and still as interesting. Shared in a few more places. :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Oh, thank you, Terrye, for the return visit. I'm glad you think it's still good. Also, thanks for the share. That's so kind of you.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Always like reading about women from the Revolution and Anna Marie's story shows why. She must have been something to charge into the fight the way she did. Bet she was looked on a little differently after that don't you think, phoenix lol? 100 dollars a year was very much back then for a war pension, too. Up and quite interesting Fulma!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for stopping by, Alastar. I think Anna Maria Lane was one of the lucky ones. Usually when women were discovered in fighting with the men, they were punished; either by imprisonment or banishment from the camp.

      I agree though she was something else to serve as valiantly as she did.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A fascinating story, Phoenix! I love the little known stories and the human aspect of them. As a former history teacher, it should come as no surprise that I found this fascinatin.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thank you for your friendship.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for the compliment, Bill. I'm glad you like it. I also like to learn about the real people behind the history. Not just the well-known names. Merry Christmas.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thought I would stop by to see if you had written anything new....nope! Well, I'll be anxiously awaiting your next Hub! :)

    • phoenix2327 profile image
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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks, Bill. I too am waiting anxiously for my next Hub.lol

    • profile image

      RPMal20 4 years ago

      I just wanted to thank you for this story. Both my grandfathers and my mother and dad served this country in uniform in WWII. It was only natural that I joined the Navy in 1965. I am now the past Commander of my American Legion Post. My mother was also a member of the Post before she past. This past week my Post voted to honor all of the women who have served our country, and so we are building a float for our 4th of July parade to honor all of the women who through the years served to protect our country in uniform. I thank you for the information given here. I will be using it to help us with our float to honor these ladies. One final point. Our new Commander who was just elected to the Commander position in our post, is a woman who served in the middle east. On this Mother's Day, god bless them all.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for sharing you military history with us. I also come from a military family and have answered the call.

      I thinks it's wonderful that your Post has chosen to honour the women of the military in this fashion. Please let us know how it turns out.

      Thank you again for sharing your story.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi phoenix,

      What an interesting piece of history it seems many of us were not familiar with! Quite an astonishing feat to have gone to battle alongside your husband in those days. Anna Maria certainly is a great example of women you made a valuable contribution on and off the field. Well done on taking that spark of interest when researching something else, and going with it! You never know where things will lead! Wow, well done done, loved it - Up and shared!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Suzie. Glad you stopped by.

      I'm pleased you liked my hub. Researching Anna Maria Lane was no easy task as there hasn't been much written about her. I certainly never heard about her in school. I guess that's why I felt I should write about her. She did all that and hardly anyone knows about it. It didn't seem right.

      Funny enough, I got so wrapped up in Anna Maria that I never did get back to what I had originally been researching. I don't even remember now what it was I was doing. lol

      Again, thanks for visiting.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I really enjoyed reading about Anna Maria. I did learn about Molly Pitcher in grade school - my teacher was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution and taught us a lot (off the required lessons). I have never heard of Anna Maria, though, so found this very interesting. Thanks for sharing her story, phoenix.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Phyllis, for reading my offering. I found Anna Marie Lane's story interesting too so I just had to share.

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Great story. I found it interesting that she had fought side by side with here husband in the revolution.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, handymanbill. I find it interesting that she did so for as long as she did. No one found out till she got injured.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 13 months ago from Fresno CA

      This was incredibly informative. I especially love the speculation of her heroic feats since we will probably never know. Thanks.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 13 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Paintdrips. True we will never really know what happened, but it must have been truly heroic to have received double the pension than the men did. It's a shame we know so little about her.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 8 months ago from California

      Great article. I learned a lot from it. Thanks

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 8 months ago from United Kingdom

      Hi, norlawrence. Thank you for stopping by. I'm pleased you liked this look at a courageous woman.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Thank you. I hadn't heard about Anna Maria Lane before this.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 7 months ago from United Kingdom

      I appreciate your stopping by. Not many people have heard of her. After reading up on Anna Maria, I thought her story needed to be shared.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Yes, that is one thing I like about HubPages. I get to learn about people, places, and things I wouldn't have ever known about.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 5 months ago from California

      Great article. Loved the pictures. Please submit more as I really enjoy your work.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Robert and many apologies for the late response. I didn't receive a notification and only saw your comment when stopped by to respond to another comment I received today. I'm glad you liked my hub and I do appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, norlawrence. I'm pleased you enjoyed this. I know I've been remiss about submitting hubs, but I've been caught up with other projects and Life just getting in the way sometimes. lol

      I'll do my best.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 months ago from England

      Its only these days that the story of brave women in wars are coming out, so this was fascinating!

    • phoenix2327 profile image
      Author

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 3 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you, Nell. I was actually going to write about something else (can't remember what now) when I ran across her name. I got curious, did some research and thought 'I need to write her story.' I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 months ago from England

      I love finding out about women in history, too much is about the guys, we women have been kicking ass for centuries! lol!

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