One woman made a massive impact on the Revolutionary War. In 1776, a camp follower’s husband was killed, and she boldly picked up his weapon and fought the British.
Born Around War
Margaret Corbin was born in western Pennsylvania in 1751. When the Indian and French War began, she was just four. The Delaware and Shawnee Tribes went after her hometown.
Her parents sent her and her brother to her uncle’s house for safety. It turns out that was a smart move. Her father was killed, and her mother was kidnapped. After that, she was never heard from again.
She married John Corbin, who joined the Pennsylvania military fighting the British. With no income and fear of getting attacked, Margaret followed along with her husband as a camp follower.
Camp followers were the wives and daughters of the soldiers. Their role in the war was to cook, sew, do laundry, and be medics for the injured.
Margaret stayed with her husband until Fort Washington. In the battle, the British used Hessian mercenaries. Margaret dressed up like a man and followed her husband into the battle, even though the Hessians were a terrifyingly elite group of soldiers.
The Hessians killed her husband along with the rest of the front line, leading to the majority of the soldiers retreating. However, Margaret was a little more stalwart than her male counterparts.
Fighting The British
She manned her husband’s cannon and used it to fire on the British. Unfortunately, she was injured in the fight, getting shot in the arm, jaw, and chest. The British scooped her up and took her to be treated by their medics.
She survived, but the British gained control of the fort. The British paroled Margaret, and she worked at West Point, taking care of the wounded soldiers.
Margaret did not have use of one of her arms anymore, and daily tasks were difficult, including getting dressed. Her story quickly spread through the Continental Army, calling her “Captain Molly.”
The story reached the ears of the Continental Congress. They gave her a lifelong pension, half of what men received. Eventually, she was given a food and rum allowance.
Gen. Henry Knox also gave her a servant to assist with eating and bathing. Margaret died in 1800. In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution verified her story, and she was given full military honors and buried at West Point.