Written by Harriet Jane Lamb Stradling
Little is known personally of Joshua, son of Jonathan, beyond the fact that he was a farmer, living on part of his father’s estate in Spencer, Massachusetts, and that eight children were born to him and his wife, Sarah Wilson. He lived during critical period when the fate of the colonies and of religious freedom hung in the balance.
France and England warred off and on for about eighty years, struggling for control of the New World. Each time hostilities flared anew, the French colonists in Canada incited the Indians not only to serve as soldiers on their side, but to make surprise raids on the New Englanders, plundering, burning, capturing, and murdering them. These wars which began in the days of Abiel Lamb, continued on into the time of his great-grandchildren. Joshua’s youngest child was born five years before the end of the French and Indian War. The termination of this war expelled France from the American continent.
Joshua was born and grew up in an era of peace, but King George’s War was fought in the early years of his married life. When it began, he and Sarah were the parents of two little sons, Joshua, Jr., and Samuel. At its end, four years later, David and Sarah had been added to the family.
These descendants of the Puritans were fighting what was to them a religious as well as political war. Catholic France had no religious tolerance at that time and was doing her utmost to control the destiny of the New World.
It was a time of terror in Massachusetts. Canada had received word first that there was war between the two nations again, and the French attacked New England at once. Worse still, no one knew just where and when the Indians would strike next. The French had fortified their borders and were in strong condition. They had spent twenty-five years and six million dollars in building what was thought to be an impregnable fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton. It was more than two miles around, with stone walls forty feet thick at the base and thirty feet high, surrounded by a water-filled moat eighty feet wide. On the walls were mounted over a hundred cannons and eighty swivels and mortars, guarding every possible approach.
Although he was considered vary foolish at first, Governor Shirley of Massachusetts thought it best to attack this great French stronghold. At last the Legislature consented, and three thousand volunteers were assembled. Accompanied by about seven hundred men from other colonies, and joined by some ships from the West Indies, they sailed for Cape Breton. Disembarking, they pushed and pulled their eighteen cannons and twenty-three mortars on sleds through a swamp—no easy job. Encouraged by the capture of one of the French war ships, they sent four hundred men against the French garrison. These soldiers spiked their guns and fled to the fort. The New Englanders unspiked these cannons and used them to good effect. Rumors that more French ships were soon to arrive to reinforce those in the harbor let them to delay no longer in attacking the great fortress. They marched to the assault under banners carrying words, "Never despair, Christ being the leader." Though hundreds fell under fire from the cannons on the walls, they fought on, sustained by fervent patriotism and burning love of religion. God upheld them in their efforts, for the French commander asked for surrender terms, which they were generous in drawing up, and which were immediately accepted. The news of the occupation of the fort sent the people of Massachusetts to their knees to thank God for this miracle in their behalf, and then to their feet to dance with joy. Perhaps Joshua and Sarah and their little children were among the thousands who lit bonfires and rang bells to celebrate this most thrilling event of the war, which was by no means over yet.
France was stunned by the fact the 4,000 untrained civilian recruits had taken great Fort Louisbourg, manned as it was by 23,000 soldiers, with large marine and naval forces supporting it in the harbor. In anger she sent a fleet and an army to destroy all the British colonies from one end of the Atlantic seaboard to the other.
Again, the colonists had occasion to kneel in fervent prayer; first, for help from the Almighty, and then in gratitude for deliverance. A great storm arose at sea, smashing several of the ships, and hundreds of the soldiers died from sickness. Their commander also died suddenly, and his successor committed suicide.
Later, the French and Indian War was fought. This finally ended in the decisive battle on the Plains of Abraham, above Quebec, and the fall of Montreal a year later. The Peace of Paris in 1763 ended the French-English conflict here.
Joshua may or may not have fought in these wars. We know only that, "the Lambs have Colonial war records, and records from the days of ’76. There were many Lambs in the Continental Army."