Female soldier is Post 44's veteran of the month
Reggie Harrison of American Legion Post 44 speaks during the post's veteran of the month service on Saturday. BZ photos
A female heroine of the Revolutionary War is American Legion Post 44 of Bantam’s veteran of the month.
Margaret C. Corbin, who fought the British at Fort Washington in New York City and was the first woman to receive a military pension, was honored by Post 44 Saturday at Bantam Borough Hall.
Corbin was born Nov. 12, 1751 near Chambersburg, Pa., the daughter of Sarah Jane and Robert Cochran. When Corbin was 5, an Indian raiding party attacked the family homestead, killing her father and carrying away her mother. She and her brother were taken in and raised by an uncle.
In 1772, Corbin joined her husband, John Corbin, a Virginian, in the Continental Army as the American colonies were on the brink of war with Great Britain. Margaret Corbin earned her keep as a cook, laundry woman and seamstress.
The artillery unit John Corbin was part of was ordered to Fort Washington, which overlooked the Hudson River, to defend the fort with 600 other Continental Army troops.
On Nov. 16, 1776, 4,000 British troops and Hessian mercenaries attacked the fort. John Corbin was part of a two-man artillery team when he, along with his fellow soldier, was killed by enemy fire. Margaret Corbin stepped in and began loading and firing the cannon by herself.
Corbin was hit by a volley of fire that nearly severed her left arm, mangled her chest and lacerated her jaw. Fort Washington fell to the British and Corbin was ferried to Fort Lee, N.J. She ended up in Philadelphia, Pa., for a lengthy recovery.
Due to her heroism, Corbin was entitled to a soldier’s rights and in 1779 was extended pension benefits by the Continental Congress.
After recovering from her wounds, Corbin joined the Invalid Regiment at West Point, N.Y., and tended to wounded veterans. She married a patient in 1782 but he died within a year. Due to Corbin’s battle scars, she became a figure of scorn rather than admiration and few realized she had fought in the war for liberty.
Corbin lived out her life in Highland Falls, N.Y. She died on Jan. 16, 1800 and was buried in the highlands above the Hudson River.
In 1926, the New York Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution used the West Point archives and the papers of Gen. Henry Knox to verify Corbin’s heroism. Her grave was located and her remains exhumed and re-interned at West Point under a granite monument with an inscription honoring her service.
But during a West Point cemetery crypt installation project in 2016, Corbin’s burial site was disturbed and what was thought to be her remains were removed.
While awaiting reburial, the remains were examined by the State University of New York’s forensics anthropologist and were found to be the bones of a man.
A special rededication ceremony took place May 1, 2018 at the Margaret Corbin monument in the West Point cemetery to honor her legacy.
Jerry Ackerman, regent of the Mary Floyd Tallmadge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, delivers the closing prayer at the service. Below, Henry Osowiecki of Post 44 during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Susan Harrison of the Mary Floyd Tallmadge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution reads the biography of Mary C. Corbin.