Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

WEST POINT – A re-dedication ceremony to honor Revolutionary War heroine Margaret Corbin, known as “Captain Molly,” is expected at the West Point Cemetery in the spring of 2018 due to an unexpected disturbance associated with an installation project near the gravesite.

Army Honors Revolutionary War Heroine In Memorial Re-Dedication After Grave Disturbance

Unexcavated burial showing casket hardware. Photo provided

In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned and received approval to have the human remains of Corbin moved from Highland Falls, and relocated to the West Point Cemetery. The DAR used records and local accounts from the community to locate the remains believed to be Corbin. The remains were disinterred, examined by surgeons and reinterred at the West Point Cemetery as Corbin’s.

During a crypt installation project in 2016, a construction contractor used excavation equipment inside the burial section around Corbin’s gravesite, causing a significant disturbance to the buried remains. The Army immediately directed that all excavation stop and secured the site. The remains were recovered by the Army Corps of Engineers Chief Archeologist Michael “Sonny” Trimble, Ph.D. The recovered remains were then fully examined by State University of New York – Binghamton Forensics Anthropologist Elizabeth DiGangi, Ph.D. Her examination determined that the remains were biologically consistent with a tall, middle-aged man alive between the colonial period and 19th century. Therefore, the remains are not that of Corbin, but rather an unknown male.

Army Honors Revolutionary War Heroine In Memorial Re-Dedication After Grave Disturbance

Overview of project area showing location of burial. Photo provided

The entire area around the gravesite was searched with a ground penetrating radar with no additional findings. The remains of the unknown were reinterred at the West Point Cemetery.

A re-dedication ceremony at the Margaret Corbin Monument in the West Point Cemetery is scheduled for 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 U.S. Military. She was not only an Army spouse, but a soldier, Prisoner of War and disabled veteran. Corbin died in 1800 at the age of 48.

“On behalf of the Army, it is with deep gratitude we honor and celebrate Margaret “Captain Molly” Corbin to rededicate her valor. Nearly 250 years after the Battle of Fort 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,” said Army National Military Cemeteries Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera. Additional information related to the archaeological recovery can be found in the Army Forensics Report: https://www.westpoint.edu/news/Shared%20Documents/Corbin%20Burial%20Recovery%20Report.pdf

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