Four Women First to Enlist

Before 1914 it was a man’s world. Men ran the country, worked for a living, and fought the wars. A woman fighting beside men was unimaginable. Then on July 28, 1914, Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. That assassination set off a chain of events that escalated beyond their borders and into what we call World War I. And by the end of the war on November 11, 1918, more than 200,000 women were in uniform and serving their countries. On Veteran’s Day, we salute four women first to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.  U.S. Army The Army has not officially stated who was the first woman to enlist. However, historians credit Deborah Sampson (1760-1827) as the first woman who served in the Army. An indentured servant, Sampson disguised herself as a man named Robert Shurtleff. Her story isn’t clear, but she enlisted in 1781 or 1782. She was twenty-one. Wounded several times in battle, her physician eventually discovered her gender and kept it a secret. But her physician’s niece became enamored of the young battle-scarred soldier. Not wanting to lead her on, Sampson wrote the girl a letter which ended up being […]

Revolutionary War Hero Margaret Corbin

It’s July and fitting that this month’s history posts be about Margaret Cochran Corbin, born November 12, 1751 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, A U.S. Revolutionary War Hero, Margaret Corbin was the first woman paid a soldier’s pension by the Continental Congress. Early Life Born to Robert Cochran, an Irish immigrant, and his wife Sarah, Margaret was orphaned at the age of five. While she and her brother were away from home, Native American’s raided her home. Her father died, and they kidnapped her mother. Her mother’s brother adopted her and her brother. Married Twenty-one-year-old Margaret married John Corbin from Virginia in 1772. Presumably they moved to Pennsylvania. The Revolutionary War Her husband joined the Pennsylvania Artillery in 1775 or 1776.  A matross, an artilleryman, John served on a cannon crew. Margaret, like many other wives at the time, became a camp follower. Camp followers cooked, cleaned and repaired clothes for the soldiers to earn money. They also cared for the sick and wounded. And camp followers brought the soldiers water to drink and to cool the cannons. The soldiers called these women, Molly Pitcher. John manned one of two cannons at Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, when George Washington […]