Margaret Corbin

A hero of the American Revolution, Margaret Cochran Corbin was recognized by the United States Government for her bravery and sacrifice.

Margaret Cochran was born on November 12, 1751, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In 1772, at age twenty-one she married a Virgina farmer by the name of John Corbin. When the Revolutionary War began, John joined the Continental Army, and Margaret went with him. John’s company was ordered to New York. On November 16, 1776, while they were stationed at Fort Washington in upper Manhattan, 4,000 British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries attacked the outnumbered Maryland and Virginia riflemen who were defending the position. Corbin’s artillery was ordered to hold off the attackers with what few cannons they had. Every hand was needed to man the cannon and muskets.

When the war began, Corbin’s husband joined the Continental Army, and she went with him. While defending Fort Washington in New York, her husband was killed by a Hessian musket ball. With no time to grieve, she continued loading and firing a canon by herself.

Because of her aim and accuracy, her position drew the attention of the 10 field cannons of the Hessians, and they soon trained their guns on her. She continued to fire until she was wounded by grapeshot which tore her shoulder, almost severing her left arm, mangled her chest and lacerated her jaw. Though she received medical care, she never recovered fully from her wounds, and was unable to use her left arm for the rest of her life.

On July 6, 1779, Congress awarded Margaret a lifelong pension in recognition of her service. It was the first time the new government officially recognized the military service of a woman.

Date of Death / January 16, 1800 (1751-1800)