December 6, 2017




“Captain Molly’s” remains not in West Point Cemetery

WEST POINT – Revolutionary War heroine Margaret Corbin, known as “Captain Molly,” was thought to have been buried in the West Point Cemetery, but a construction accident next to the gravesite, proved differently.

In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution received approval to have Corbin’s remains moved from Highland Falls to the cemetery at the US Military Academy.

The DAR used records and local accounts from the community to locate the remains believed to be Corbin. They were disinterred, examined by surgeons and reinterred at West Point.  But, during a crypt installation in 2016, a construction contractor using excavation equipment inside the burial section around Corbin’s gravesite caused significant disturbance to the buried remains. The Army ordered all excavation stopped immediately and secured the site.

The remains were recovered by the Army Corps of Engineers Chief Archeologist Michael “Sonny” Trimble, Ph.D. and were fully examined by the SUNY Binghamton Forensics Anthropologist Elizabeth DiGangi, Ph.D.  She determined they were consistent with a tall, middle-aged man alive between the colonial period and the 19th century. The remains were determined not to be that of Corbin, but rather an unknown man.

The entire area around the cemetery was searched with ground penetrating radar with no additional findings. The remains of the unknown were reinterred at West Point Cemetery and the whereabouts of Corbin’s remains a mystery.

But, a re-dedication ceremony at the Margaret Corbin Monument in the West Point cemetery will be held in May 2018 to honor the legacy and path Corbin paved for women then and in today’s Army.        

She is widely known for her actions during the 1776 Battle of Fort Washington, New York, where after her husband was killed in battle, she heroically took over firing the cannon.

Although she was not a commissioned officer, she was the first woman to receive a pension for her military service by the US military.

She was not only an Army spouse, but a soldier, prisoner of war, and disabled woman. She died in 1800 at age 48.

“On behalf of the Army, it is with deep gratitude we honor and celebrate Margaret “Captain Molly” Corbin to rededicate her valor,” said Army National Military Cemeteries Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera. “Nearly 250 years after the Battle of Ford Washington, her bravery and legacy to American history as one of the first women to serve in combat in the defense of our nation continues to transcend and inspire women in military service today.”


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