Benjamin Lincoln, an American general, born in Hingham, Mass., Jan. 24, 1733, died there, May 9, 1810. Until the age of 40 he was a farmer, holding at different times the offices of magistrate, representative in the provincial legislature, and colonel of militia. He was also an active member of the provincial congresses of Massachusetts, and as a militia officer rose in 1776 to the rank of major general. In June of that year he commanded the expedition which cleared Boston harbor of British vessels. After the American defeat on Long Island he was despatched by the council of Massachusetts to reenforce Washington with a body of militia, and he subsequently participated in the battle of "White Plains and other engagements. In the beginning of 1777 he joined Washington at Morristown with a new levy of militia, and soon after was transferred to the continental service with the rank of major general. After serving for several months in New Jersey, he was sent to join the forces assembled to oppose the progress of Burgoyne, and during the battle of Bemis's heights, commanded inside the American works. On the succeeding day, while reconnoitring in the vicinity of the enemy's position, he was severely wounded, and compelled for nearly a year to retire from service.
In September, 1778, he was appointed to the command of the southern army, and for several months was engaged in protecting Charleston against the demonstrations of Gen. Prevost. Upon the arrival of Count d'Estaing he cooperated with the French troops and fleet in the unsuccessful assault on Savannah; and from the unwillingness of his allies to continue the siege he was obliged to return to Charleston, where in the spring of 1780 he was besieged by a superior British force under Sir Henry Clinton. After an obstinate defence he was forced in May to capitulate, and in November retired to Massachusetts on parole. In the spring of the succeeding year he was exchanged, and immediately joined Washington on the Hudson. He participated in the siege of Yorktown, and Washington appointed him to receive the sword of Cornwallis upon the surrender of the British forces. He held the office of secretary of war for three years from October, 1781, and then returned to his farm. In 1787 he commanded the forces which quelled the Shays rebellion in western Massachusetts, and in the same year he was elected lieutenant governor of the state.
Upon the establishment of the federal government he received from Washington the appointment of collector of Boston, from which office he retired about two years before his death. He was a member of the commission which in 1789 formed a treaty with the Creek Indians, and of that which in 1793 unsuccessfully attempted to enter into negotiations with the Indians north of the Ohio. - See his life by Francis Bowen in Sparks's "American Biography" (2d series, vol. xiii.).