Matross

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Matross was a soldier of artillery, who ranked next below a gunner.

The duty of a matross was to assist the gunners in loading, firing and sponging the guns. They were provided with firelocks, and marched with the store-wagons, acting as guards. In the American army a matross ranked as a private of artillery.

The word is probably derived from French matelot, or from German Matrose, a sailor.

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 


Margaret Cochran Corbin (Captain Molly), was the wife of John Corbin, an artilleryman in Captain Thomas Proctor's 1st Company of Pennsylvania Artillery. Unlike Deborah Sampson, Margaret was a camp follower. Following her husband's example she was taught how to load and fire cannons gaining the respect and admiration from the other artillerymen in the Company. On November 16, 1776, Margaret assisted in the battle at Fort Washington, New York. "Molly", as she later became known, stood on the front line with her husband John. In the course of the battle he was mortally wounded. As a result she assumed his duties as matross and was injured herself. Once the fort fell she was moved to Philadelphia where she was paroled and later pensioned by Congress. Corbin was later assigned to the Corps of Invalids at West Point where she remained until her death in 1800. "Captain Molly" is now buried on the grounds of the United States Military Academy. [1]