Margaret “Cap’n Molly” Corbin
Defense of Fort Washington
16 Nov. 1776
John Corbin enlisted in the Continental Army to free his nation from tyranny. His faithful wife Molly, like so many others, became a camp follower. She helped nurse the wounded and care for the men. During battles, she delivered water to cannoneers and recovered the wounded helping to move them to the rear for treatment.
On 16 November 1776 during the defense of Ft. Washington, Molly’s husband John and his entire gun crew were killed by enemy fire.
Molly Corbin took her husband’s place at the gun performing the duties of Gunner, Loader, and ammo bearer while pouring unnaturally accurate fire on the attacking British troops.
Continental Soldiers who witness the savage pounding that Molly Gave to her enemies took to calling her Cap’n Molly after the battle. Cap’n Molly was severely wounded in the face left arm, and her left breast was shredded by shrapnel. She was taken Prisoner, but her wounds were severe enough that she was returned to the Continentals to die. – She chose not to.
Upon recovering, Corbin joined the Invalid Regiment at West Point, where she aided the wounded until she was formerly discharged in 1783. In July 1779, the Continental Congress recognized her service with a lifelong pension equivalent to half that of male combatants and a set of clothes to replace the ones ruined in battle.
Cap’n Molly was a Soldier and had trouble socializing with non-soldiers, so she frequented military pubs. There is one old story that stands out and shows what kind of woman Cap’n Molly was. She was patronizing a local West Point Area bar when a group of cadets wandered in. The newly commissioned officers were shocked to see a “woman” drinking in a pub and assumed she was just an old, Scared up prostitute trying to find a customer in a pub full of soldiers.
The West Pointers made a few snide comments to which Cap’n Molly demanded they show her the respect of her rank and that they call her Cap’m Molly.
When they refused, she administered a stout thrashing to their leader while the other patrons educated the group to who she was, and that they would, in fact, show her the respect due or leave beaten and bruised.
Cap’n Molly didn’t pay for another drink that night.
Corbin died near West Point before reaching her fiftieth birthday. In 1926, West Point Cadets dug her up and her remains were moved from an obscure grave along the Hudson River to a place oh honor on the grounds of the US Military Academy at West Point, where she was buried with full military honors.
Author’s note :
I would have married Cap’n Molly – she has been one of my heroes since about 5th grade. One of my Guard Dogs is aways named for her, “Molly.”