Margaret Corbin

Margaret Cochran Corbin (November 12, 1751 – January 16, 1800) is perhaps best known as New York’s own Molly Pitcher although her role was perhaps even more important.  On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington, where  the Company of John, her husband, was stationed, was attacked by the British. John, an artilleryman, was in charge of firing small cannon atop a ridge, today known as Fort Tryon. During an assault by the Hessians, John was killed, leaving his cannon unmanned. Margaret had been with her husband on the battlefield the entire time, and, after witnessing his death, she immediately took his place at the cannon. She fired away until her arm, chest, and jaw were hit by enemy fire. The British ultimately won the Battle of Fort Washington, resulting in the surrender of Margaret and her comrades. As the equivalent of a wounded soldier, Margaret was released by the British on parole.

After the battle, Margaret went to Philadelphia, completely disabled from her wound, and would never fully heal. Life was difficult for her because of her injury, and in 1779 she received aid from the government. On June 29, the Executive Council of Pennsylvania granted her $30 to cover her present needs, and passed her case on to Congress’s Board of War. On July 6, 1779, the Board, sympathetic to Margaret’s injuries and impressed with her service and bravery, granted her half the monthly pay of a soldier in the Continental Army and a new set of clothes or its equivalent in cash. With this act, Congress made Margaret the first woman in the United States to receive a military pension from Congress.

After Congress’s decision, Margaret was included on military rolls until the end of the war. She was enrolled in the Corps of Invalids, created by Congress for wounded soldiers. In 1781, the Corps of Invalids became part of the garrison at West Point, New York. She was discharged from the Continental Army in 1783.

 

 
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virtutes majorum filiae conservant

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