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Monday, March 5, 2012

Margaret Cochran Corbin

When Margaret Cochran Corbin’s husband joined the Continental forces to fight against the British in the American Revolution, she went, too, which was not uncommon for women at the time. Traveling with the troops, they would cook for their husbands, do their laundry, and serve as nurses to the wounded, as well. But Margaret Corbin went further. In fact, when her husband died while shooting a cannon, she stepped in without hesitation, loading and firing the cannon by herself (a task that usually required an assistant) until she herself was so badly wounded that she permanently lost the use of her left arm.

Reported by soldiers who witnessed her deadly aim and accuracy that November 16th of 1776, Cordin was subsequently awarded a soldier’s pension for her “distinguished bravery” which allowed her to live out the rest of her life as the hard-drinking, pipe-smoking veteran she was. In 1926, out of respect for her historical importance as the “first American woman to take a soldier’s part in the war for liberty,” her body was moved from an obscure grave to one in the soldiers’ cemetery behind the Old Cadet Chapel at West Point beside those of the men she lived, fought, and died with.

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