Posts Tagged ‘Revolutionary War’

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 cherry grove of Delancey Street

January 26, 2009

The uptown side of the Delancey Street F train platform features lots of cherries—three cherry tree murals as well as several smaller cherry mosaics.


So what’s with the cherry motif? Before the Lower East Side became a jam-packed tenement district in the late 1800s, it was farmland owned by James DeLancey, acting colonial governor of New York in the 1750s who staunchly supported the British during the Revolutionary War.

The DeLancey farm supposedly had a cherry grove on what is now Orchard Street. After the war the farm was confiscated and divided up among smaller landowners. Somewhere along the way, the cherry grove met the ax as well.

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.

Red Hook’s revolutionary history

April 27, 2008

New street signs in Red Hook commemorate Red Hook Lane, an old Indian trail that served as the main route in and out of Red Hook to the heights of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. 

Such an important street met a cruel fate. It existed on early maps, from Henry Street to Fulton. But by the end of the 19th century, development had reduced it to a block-long alley off Livingston Street. In 2007, Red Hook Lane suffered the ultimate blow—it was officially de-mapped! 

Also new in the Hook: The ground under a tiny triangle of land on Nelson and Columbia Streets may contain soldiers’ remains. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle covers it here.