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Molly Pitcher

Molly PitcherAKA Mary Ludwig

Born: 13-Oct-1754
Birthplace: Trenton, NJ
Died: 22-Jan-1832
Location of death: Carlisle, PA
Cause of death: Cancer - Skin
Remains: Buried, Old Graveyard, Carlisle, PA

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Military

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Fought at the Battle of Monmouth

As the American Revolutionary War raged on colonial soil, many soldiers' wives lived with their husbands at their posts -- cooking, sewing, nursing the wounded, and otherwise helping. Among these campfollowers' more hazardous tasks was bringing water to soldiers on the battlefront, for which the women were jokingly called "Molly Pitchers."

Mary Ludwig Hays became the most famous of the "Molly Pitcher" women. She had been raised on a farm, worked as a maid, and married a barber, John Casper Hays, who then joined the Pennsylvania Infantry and was posted to Valley Forge. She accompanied him there, and was present at the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778. She apparently comported herself with courage, but beyond this the facts of the matter are vague and possibly embellished over the subsequent centuries. According to legend she was bringing water when she saw her husband shot and collapse in agony at his cannon. Molly dropped her pitcher, rushed to his side, and after ascertaining that his injuries were not life-threatening she took charge of his cannon and carried on firing until she herself was shot and wounded. In one version of the story, an enemy cannonball passed between her legs, leaving her unharmed but also ripping off her petticoat, and still she gallantly soldiered on in her underwear.

Whatever Mrs Hays actually did on the battlefield, she was clearly regarded as a war heroine. When it was reported in 1822 that she was working as a scrubwoman in her old age, she was granted a pension from the state of Pennsylvania for services rendered during the war. She was buried with full military honors, and the monument over her grave is inscribed, "Molly Pitcher, the heroine of Monmouth."

Father: John George Ludwig (dairy farmer)
Husband: John Casper Hays (barber, m. 24-Jul-1769, d. 1789)
Son: John L. Hays (b. 1783)
Husband: George McCauley (sometimes spelled McAuley or M'Kolly, m. 1792, d. 1813)
Son: John McCauley (b. 1792)

    German Ancestry Paternal
    English Ancestry Maternal

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #646 (2 cents, George Washington overprint, issued 20-Oct-1928)

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