Molly Pitcher Biography And Information

Molly Pitcher, born Mary Ludwig, was a true Revolutionary war hero. She received the nickname Molly Pitcher for delivering water to soldiers.

Molly Pitcher's actual birth name was Mary Ludwig. She was born on October 13, 1754 to German immigrants who had moved to the colonies and settled on a dairy farm near Trenton, New Jersey. Mary was a lively girl who could often be found playing with her pet calf, Blossom. Said to be bright and friendly, it was believed that Mary had good prospects for a happy, peaceful future, but all doesn't always turn out as expected.

In 1769, at the age of fifteen, Mary moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania in order to work for Dr. William Irvine, a soon to be colonel and brigadier general in the colonial army, as well as a leader at the Battle of Monmouth, as a servant. Domestic employment did not suit Mary, and she did not get along so well with Dr. Irvine, so after she met and fell in love with a barber named John Casper Hays, she happily left Dr. Irvine's employ in order to marry him.

Mary and John Hays were devoted to one another and one was usually never far from the other's side. When John Hays enlisted in the continental army in 1775, Mary packed up and followed him to the battlefield. This was not an uncommon occurrence. Many wives followed their husbands to camp in order to cook and clean for them, along with unmarried women in search of companionship, glory, or coin. They were known as camp followers. Mary Ludwig Hays, however, managed to quickly distinguish herself from the rest.



Mary Ludwig Hays did much more than cook, clean, do mending, and nurse the sick and wounded. She worked at becoming a true contributor to the war effort, and was quickly recognized and revered as a valuable asset. She served as a helpmeet in the brutally cold conditions at Valley Forge before the Battle of Monmouth. By carrying pitchers of clear spring water to the parched soldiers and gunmen who needed it to cool their hot artillery, she managed to earn the title of "Molly Pitcher". By hoisting wounded soldiers on her own slender back and spiriting them from the bloody battlefields she earned the men's respect. What earned her their adoration, however, was her act of active participation in the fighting.

John Hays, a member of the First Pennsylvania artillery, had replaced a casualty at one of the big guns and was preparing to fire a volley of rounds at the British during the Battle of Monmouth. Before Mary's horrified eyes he was shot and wounded, unable to man the big gun any longer. Mary charged over to him and, after ascertaining that he was going to live, took the rammer from his hands and proceeded to fire round after round at the approaching enemy. Mary Hays held her position as a gunner throughout the day, acting bravely and competently.

Joseph Plumb Martin, a soldier from Connecticut, was witness to Mary Ludwig Hay's valiant actions, and wrote this of her in his war memoir, "While in the act of reaching for a cartridge, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else." This shows the strength of character and level headedness that held Mary in good stead for the rest of the Battle.

After the victory at Monmouth, George Washington himself met with Mary Hays, commending her for her courage and honouring her by bestowing upon her the honorary, non-compensatory commission of Sargeant. A popular toast made by artillerymen at the time was "Drunk in a beverage richer and stronger than was poured that day from Molly Pitcher's pitcher." Mary Hays had become a war icon.

After the war Molly and John Hays returned to Carlisle, Pennsylvania in hopes of living a peaceful life, but their happiness was short-lived. John Hays died in 1789, and Mary was alone.

A few years after becoming a widow, Mary Ludwig Hays remarried, to a man named George McCauley. This was not a happy union, as it was said that George McCauley was a cold and unemotional man, and soon Mary returned to life as a domestic, forced their by poverty. Bitterly poor, Mary would not receive financial recognition for her war effort until 1822, at the age of 68, when the Pennsylvania legislature opted to award her with a pension in the amount of forty dollars annually. Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley died ten years later, on January 22, 1832.

She was laid to rest in a Pennsylvania cemetery; a flagstaff, a cannon, and a monument placed there to honour this extraordinary woman. Molly Pitcher is a historical testament to the fact that courage, persistence, and strength of will are not gender traits, but simply human traits, and proof that one can survive and excel without having the word "can't" in one's vocabulary.

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