Joseph Smith enlisted in the Third Maryland Regiment at the age of twenty-three. Apparently illiterate, Smith signed his enlistment and the company payroll with his mark. Smith saw service in Pennsylvania, New Jerseys, and the South. He was wounded at Camden in 1780 and captured. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war whereupon he returned to his home in Baltimore.
When he applied for a pension after the war, it was discovered Smith’s real name was Elias Pollock; he read and write, but the only script he employed was the Hebrew. Why had he concealed his name? He may well have been a runaway debtor seeking to escape imprisonment; he may have been an indentured servant, or the simply fearing prejudice, so he adopted the innocuous Anglo-Saxon “Smith” to conceal his Jewish origin a strategy that would be employed by thousands of Jewish immigrants a century later at Ellis Island.