Historic, but not famous

Margaret Cochran Corbin, first woman to get military pension in USA

Margaret Cochran Corbin (November 12, 1751 – January 16, 1800) was a woman who fought in the American Revolutionary War. On November 16, 1776, her husband, John Corbin was one of some 600 American soldiers defending Fort Washington in northern Manhattan from 4,000 attacking troops. Margaret decided she wanted to go with him. Since she was a nurse, she was allowed to accompany her husband as a nurse for the injured soldiers. When her husband was wounded in battle, she took his place and continued to work the cannon until she too was seriously wounded.

Ms. Corbin later became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress for military service because she could no longer work due to injury and was enlisted into the Corps of Invalids.

A memorial commemorating her heroism was erected in 1909 near the scene of her service in what would later become Fort Tryon Park. In addition, after the park was constructed, “Margaret Corbin Circle” lies just outside the main entrance, and “Margaret Corbin Drive” connects the circle through the park to the Henry Hudson Parkway. A plaque honoring Corbin, placed by the Chamber of Commerce of Washington Heights in 1982, is located on the eastern of the two stone plynths which mark the start of Margaret Corbin Drive. A large Art Deco mural depicting the Battle of Fort Washington scene decorates the lobby of a nearby apartment building at 720 Fort Washington Avenue. According to the New York Historical Association, Corbin was “honored as no woman of the revolution has ever been honored before.”

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