Posts Tagged ‘Battle of harlem heights’

New York war hero: Margaret Corbin

May 24, 2009

It’s Memorial Day weekend—an appropriate time to remember Margaret Corbin, considered by some to be the first female American soldier and someone whose name shows up all over Northern Manhattan.

MargaretcorbinCorbin was the wife of a Virginia farmer who had enlisted in the Pennsylvania state artillery to fight for the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Rather than stay at home alone, she joined his company as a “camp follower,” as other wives were called, cooking and nursing wounded soldiers.

On November 16, 1776, their company was stationed at Fort Washington—where Fort Tryon Park is today—to help stave off a sneak attack launched by British and Hessian forces. After her husband was killed instantly while operating a canon, Margaret stepped into his place and began firing. Fortryonplaque

Though the four-hour battle ended with the enemy capturing Fort Washington, and she was severely wounded, Margaret supposedly proved to be one of the best gunners on the colonists’ side. 

She never fully recovered from her injuries and was eventually given $30 plus a lifetime disability pension.

Today, a plaque in Fort Tryon Park honors her bravery. And Northern Manhattan near The Cloisters is home to Margaret Corbin Drive and Margaret Corbin Circle.

The Battle of Harlem Heights

May 25, 2008

It’s Memorial Day weekend, a good time to look back on a small yet crucial battle that took place just west of the Columbia University campus. On September 16, 1776, fighting broke out between the Continental Army and British troops at 106th Street and Broadway. The battle pushed northward, with most of the fighting happening around 120th Street. This plaque, at 117th and Broadway, commemorates it.

Not everyone agrees that the U.S. won. But the battle did force the British to retreat from upper Manhattan, and this invigorated the Continental Army’s morale after decisive defeats in Brooklyn and at Kip’s Bay.