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In Brief

Margaret Cochran Corbin: Revolutionary Heroine

31 January 2012

Margaret Cochran Corbin's grave at West Point cemetery (Creative Commons/ahodges7)

Margaret Cochran Corbin was by her husband's side when he was killed during an attack on Fort Washington. What she did next has made her a beloved character in American history.

Margaret Cochran Corbin fought alongside her husband in the first two years of the War for Independence. She was the first woman whose valor and sacrifice were recognized with a U.S. government pension for disabled soldiers.

Corbin was orphaned at age 5 when Indian raiders killed both her parents. She married John Corbin when she was 21 and accompanied him when he joined the First Company of Pennsylvania Artillery for service in the Continental Army. Like the other women who followed the troops, she cooked, washed clothes and tended the sick and wounded. On November 16, 1776, British and Hessian troops attacked Fort Washington, New York, and John Corbin, one of the soldiers firing cannons in defense, was shot and killed. Margaret Corbin, at his side to help him load the cannon, took over loading and firing the cannon until she was hit by grapeshot, which tore her shoulder and wounded her in the chest and jaw.

In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution re-interred her remains at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Her grave is pictured above.