Margaret Corbin

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Margaret Corbin (Cochran)

Birthplace: Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: January 16, 1800 (48)
Highland Falls, Orange County, New York, United States
Place of Burial: West Point, Orange, NY, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robert Cochran and Sarah Cochran
Wife of John Corbin, V
Mother of Abigail Turner and Catherine Goldsborough
Sister of John Cochran

Occupation: Nurse
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Margaret Corbin

Margaret Cochran Corbin (November 12, 1751 – January 16, 1800) was a woman who fought in the American Revolutionary War.[1]. Margaret was the first woman in the United States to receive a military pension from Congress.

I wrote the following based upon my research. -Elizabeth R. Laumas

Margaret Cochran was born in 1751 though little is known of her life before the Revolutionary War; one incident in her childhood is recorded.

Margaret had a very traumatic childhood, for when she was but five years old; she and her brother were away from home when her parents were attacked by a Native American tribe. Tragically, her father was murdered and her mother was taken captive and Margaret was never to see her dear mother again. Margaret’s uncle raised her from that point forth.

When Margaret was twenty-one, she married a man named John Corbin who was a farmer. When the Revolutionary War began, John enlisted and Margaret followed him as was common practice for wives of soldiers during that time. Wives of soldiers such as Margaret, spent their days cooking, cleaning and caring for the soldiers at the military camps.

In November 1776, during the Battle at Fort Washington on Manhattan Island, Margaret and her husband John were among many who fought to defend the fort against Hessian troops. Specifically, Margaret and her husband were operating a cannon. Margaret’s husband was killed during the attack and though she was injured, she immediately took his place at the cannon and continued to fight.

The fighting continued on and it was a bloody and brutal battle. After Margaret took over her husband’s cannon, she became even more wounded during the fight, in fact, she became severely wounded which lead to her being disabled for the rest of her life. The British won that battle but as was proper, they released Margaret because she was in fact, a wounded soldier and they were duty bound to let her go.

After the battle, Margaret’s fellow soldiers transported her to Fort Lee which was in New Jersey and there she was treated for her wounds. Yet, sadly, Margaret never fully recovered from the injuries she sustained during the battle at Fort Washington and she was completely disabled for the remainder of her life.

In 1779, the Executive Council of Pennsylvania granted Margaret a stipend of $30 "to relieve her present necessities.” They went on to recommend that the Board of War grant her a pension which they did, thus, she became the very first woman in the history of the United States of America to be granted a pension for her military service.

When Margaret died in the year 1800, she was buried near the Hudson River and was given a very rudimentary grave marker. In 1926, when this came to the attention of the Daughters of the American Revolution in New York, they pushed forward the process that eventually led to Margaret Corbin receiving a proper military funeral and being re-interred in the cemetery at West Point Academy.


Margaret Cochran Corbin Story General Timeline November 12, 1751: Margaret Cochran born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania c. 1756: Family attacked by Native Americans; father was killed and mother kidnapped; Margaret was away from home at the time and survived; was raised by her uncle (her mother’s brother) c. 1772: Married John Corbin from Virginia c. 1775/76: Became a camp follower when John Corbin enlisted in the Pennsylvania Artillery November 16, 1776: Margaret took over John’s position at his cannon after he fell, mortally wounded in what is today Fort Tryon Park during the Battle of Fort Washington. She was then wounded, captured, paroled, and eventually sent to recover to the Corps of Invalids at West Point, NY. June 29, 1779: State of Pennsylvania granted her $30 for her services. July 6, 1779: Continental Congress approved giving her a continuing allowance and clothing; making her the first woman to receive a pension from the United States. c. 1783: Discharged from the Army c. 1800: Died in Highland Falls, NY and buried in poorly marked grave. c. 1925: Extensive research began by the New York State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as other local historians, to locate and identify Margaret Corbin’s burial site March 16, 1926: A body believed to be Margaret Corbin’s was exhumed from the estate of Cragston, owned by JP Morgan, and reinterred at West Point Cemetery with full military honors. April 14, 1926: DAR donated a monument to the U.S. Military Academy to honor Margaret Corbin at the burial plot and a dedication took place at West Point Cemetery. c. 1976: Margaret Corbin Forum was formed at the U.S. Military Academy (the first year women joined the Corps of Cadets) to educate the Corps on women’s roles in the military and address issues regarding integrating women into the Academy. The mission now is to provide a forum for the discussion of gender-specific issues within the military, foster a sense of pride in the accomplishments of military women, and provide mentoring and networking for female cadets and officers. Every May since 1926: Annual DAR Margaret Corbin Day with ceremony and wreath-laying at Margaret Corbin Monument at West Point Cemetery October 2016: West Point Cemetery expansion project led to accidental grave disturbance; archeological recovery and forensics analysis revealed that bones buried at the Margaret Corbin Monument are not the remains of Margaret Corbin as thought for the past 90 years

  • *May 1, 2018: Special rededication ceremony at Margaret Corbin Monument at West Point to

celebrate Margaret’s legacy

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Margaret Corbin's Timeline

November 12, 1751
Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
January 16, 1800
Age 48
Highland Falls, Orange County, New York, United States
West Point, Orange, NY, United States