By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
Until Friday, some had never heard of Margaret C. Corbin or knew that she was what some considered the epitome of a trailblazer.
Corbin was on the front lines fighting alongside her husband, John, during the Revolutionary War when a woman’s role was taking care of the children and the home.
Corbin was also the first woman to receive a pension from the United States government as a disabled Soldier.
On Friday five Fort Knox spouses were recipients of the Margaret C. Corbin Award at Waybur Theater for their dedication and exemplary volunteerism as outstanding, and totally committed military spouses. The five spouses have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for post Soldiers and their Families. The award winners were Robyn Mann, Kathy Box, Diane Hall, Jenny Payne and May Giulitto.
Master Sgt. Michelle Rodriguez, the ceremony’s narrator, said Margaret married John, a Virginia farmer in 1772. Three years later John enlisted in the First Company of the Pennsylvania Artillery under the command of Capt. Thomas Proctor. Margaret, who refused to be left at home, rolled up her belongings in a blanket and followed him.
“Margaret’s devotion to the American cause allowed her to become a camp follower,” explained Rodriguez. “In this position, like many other wives who came along, she was needed for cooking, washing, laundry and nursing wounded Soldiers, as well as living with the problems that had arisen in military camp life.”
According to www.distinguishedwomen.com, on Nov. 16, 1776, while the Corbins were stationed in Fort Washington, N.Y., the fort was attacked by British and Hessian troops. John was assisting a gunner until the gunner was killed. At this point John took charge of the cannon and Margaret assisted him. Sometime later, John was killed also. With no time to grieve, Margaret continued loading and firing the cannon by herself until she was wounded by grapeshot which tore her shoulder, mangled her chest and lacerated her jaw. She never recovered fully from her wounds and was left without use of her left arm for the rest of her life.
To honor her contributions to the Army, the Margaret C. Corbin Award was established to recognize spouses for their outstanding volunteer services on and off post.
For their dedication the women received a Margaret C. Corbin medallion and pin. They also received a thank you letter highlighting tuition discounts for them and a dinner gift card from Indiana Wesleyan University, a $25 Navy Federal Credit Union Visa gift card, an Internet music download card and a GEICO Military Team Coin from GEICO, an eagle/flag certificate and a $50 gift card from the United States Army Association, a gift card from First Command and a plaque and coin from the Association of the United States Army.