The Heroics of Margaret Corbin, the First Woman in U.S. History to be Awarded a Military Pension.

A similar story to that of the famous Molly Pitcher is that of Margaret Cochran Corbin, wife of artilleryman John Corbin. On Nov. 16, 1776, John Corbin, along with 2,800 Continental soldiers, defended Manhattan’s Fort Washington, which was being attacked by 9,000 Hessian mercenary troops. Margaret Corbin was bringing water to swab the cannon, when her husband was killed. She immediately took his place at the cannon, and helped return fire. Seriously wounded in her arm, Margaret Corbin, or “Captain Molly,” was the first woman in U.S. history to be awarded a military pension.

During the Revolution, women managed homesteads while their husbands fought. They worked the farms, raised families, and dealt with Indians the British were stirring up to attack. Women raised money for suffering soldiers, organized resistance protests, boycotted British-made products, which meant going back to using their old spinning wheels.

Women engaged in the riskier roles as messengers, scouts, saboteurs, or spies. Many, like Lucy Knox, left their Loyalist British families who sailed for England, never to see them again, in order to join their patriotic American husbands on military assignments in shifting encampments. Lucy and Colonel Henry Knox did not have a permanent home till they were married 20 years.



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