Posted by: Ron DuBour | March 31, 2019

Knowing your American Heroes~Molly Pitcher (1754-1832)~by rldubour


Celebrating National Women’s Month:

 

Knowing your American Heroes

Molly Pitcher (1754-1832)

Image result for Molly Pitcher (1754-1832)

Born to German immigrants

October thirteenth, seventeen-fifty-four.

A heroin for her country

In the Revolutionary War.

 

Birth name is Mary Ludwig

Wanted to be a professional maid.

Worked for Dr. William Irvine

Until she married John Casper Hayes.

 

John Hayes was a soldier in the

4th Artillery Regiment.

The couple shadowed one another

Onto the field of battlement.

 

During the battle of Monmouth

Mary brought water to thirsty soldiers.

Given the name Molly Pitcher

In war she was a great enhancer.

 

When John was manning his cannon

Molly’s acts did not stop.

He collapsed from heat exhaustion

His position she did swap.

 

For her acts of courage

George Washington did compliment.

She earned the name of “Sergeant”

In the 4th Artillery Regiment.

 

Hayes died in seventeen-eighty-eight

A second husband named John McCauly.

She lost him in eighteen-thirteen

In twenty-two earned her nurse degree.

 

Moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Was awarded an annual pension.

For her acts of heroism

Washington issued for her retention.

 

Mary died the twenty-second

January, eighteen-thirty-two.

Not only was she a war hero

But a loyal wife and hard worker too.

 

Her name on a U.S. postage stamp.

From Pa. to Maryland a highway.

The Liberty ship SS Molly Pitcher

A true heroin in her day.

 

AUTHOR NOTES: Born to German immigrants on Oct. 13, 1754, the future hero was given the name Mary. In 1769 Mary became a servant to Dr. William Irvine. Later Mary’s employer became a colonel and a brigadier general in the colonial army. He also commanded men during the Battle of Monmouth. Leaving her career as a maid, Mary married a soldier by the name of John Casper Hays. When he enlisted in the Colonial artillery in 1775, the couple shadowed one another all the way out into the battle field. During the cruel Battle of Monmouth, Mary would bring pitchers of water from a nearby creek to the thirsty soldiers. This act of courage and kindness earned Mary the nicknames of “Sergeant” and the more popular name of “Molly Pitcher.” Both were good humored and well deserved names. Molly’s acts did not stop at the pitcher. When Molly’s husband collapsed while manning his cannon, Molly took over for him. This brought attention to Molly from George Washington who complimented her works. In June, 1778, 20,000 British soldiers abandoned the city of Philadelphia and marched to join their garrison at New York City. Simultaneously, General George Washington led an army of 15,000 Continental soldiers to intercept the British. On Sunday, 28 June 1778, a Continental detachment of 5,000 men attempted to surround the British rear guard. A British counter attack with 10,000 men forced the Continentals to retreat back over Spotswood Middle Brook to the safety of a hill where Washington had arrayed the main body of Continentals. When the British attacked the hill, Continental artillery raked the approaches. Then the British brought up their own artillery, and for 2 1/2 or 3 hour, ten British guns cannonaded ten Continental guns. In the largest field artillery engagement of the Revolution, tons of iron shot and shell were fired across Spotswood Middle Brook. The Continental artillery won the engagement when four guns on Combs Hill enfiladed the British position forcing them to withdraw. As the temperature approached 100 degrees, and a gunner collapsed from heat exhaustion, a plucky Irish water carrier stepped forward to help work Captain Francis Proctor’s field piece. The wife of gunner William Hays, memories of her heroism evolved into the myth of “Molly Pitcher.” Her husband William Hays died in 1788. Mary married again, to one John McCauly; he died in 1813. Afterwards, she became a nurse; on 21 February 1822, the state of Pennsylvania awarded her an annual pension of $40 for her heroism. She died 22 January 1832, in Carlisle. Not many women are mentioned during the Revolutionary War. If they are, they are not always titled a “heroine.” However, Molly Pitcher broke the trend by not only being a war hero, but a loyal wife and hard worker. In 1928, “Molly Pitcher” was honored with an overprint reading “MOLLY / PITCHER” on a U.S. postage stamp. “Molly” was further honored in World War II with the naming of the Liberty ship SS Molly Pitcher, launched, and subsequently torpedoed, in 1943. There is a hotel in Red Bank, New Jersey, not far from the site of the Battle of Monmouth called the Molly Pitcher Inn. There is also a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike named for Molly Pitcher at southbound mile 71.7. The stretch of US Route 11 between Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line is known as the Molly Pitcher Highway. The American Legion Post in Englishtown is named “Molly Pitcher Post 04”. In his autobiography, a Connecticut soldier described watching a Continental field piece cannonade a battalion of Highlanders in an orchard, noting: “a woman whose husband belonged to the artillery…attended with her husband at the piece the whole time. While in the act of reaching a cartridge and having one of her feet as far before the other as she could step, 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…..continued her occupation.”


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