Molly Pitcher, Heroine of the Revolutionary War

By | October 8, 2018

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Color Engraving of Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth (Getty Images)

While the men waged war during America’s fight for independence, there is an urban legend of at least one woman that joined the fighting. Nicknamed Molly Pitcher, this heroine of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Monmouth was most likely a real person, but her battlefield escapades grew and became more exaggerated until she took on a folklore status. Let us try to peel back the layers of myth to find out who the woman behind the Molly Pitcher legend really was. 

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Molly Pitcher May Have Been Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley

By most accounts, Molly Pitcher was likely Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. First, Molly was a common nickname for Mary at the time. Second, historians have been able to determine that Mary’s husband, William Hays, was an artilleryman for the Continental Army during the 1778 Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. Mary joined her husband and carried water to the soldiers to keep them hydrated on a hot day. When her husband collapsed…it is not clear if he was injured or suffered from heat stroke…Mary took his place at the cannon and kept the weapon loaded and firing throughout the remainder of the battle.