Molly Pitcher life and biography

Molly Pitcher picture, image, poster

Molly Pitcher biography

Date of birth : 1750-10-13
Date of death : 1832-01-22
Birthplace : Trenton, New Jersey, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-10-04
Credited as : Patriot, ,

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Though most historians agree that there was not a woman named Molly Pitcher, the nickname generally is believed to refer to one Mary Ludwig Hays. During the Revolutionary War, she was given the honorific after several feats of heroism at the Battle of Monmouth. The name Molly Pitcher was also used in reference to other women heroines during that conflict, most notably Margaret Corbin.

Became Hero


Mary Ludwig Hays was born in 1750, near Trenton, New Jersey. By 1769, she moved from New Jersey to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she took a position as a domestic for the family of General William Irwin. Later that year, she married John Casper Hays (some sources say his name was William Hays), a barber. With the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1775, John Hays joined local military regiments and fought against the British at several locations, including with the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment at the Battle of Monmouth which took place on June 28, 1778 at the Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey. Mary Hays followed her husband into battle and proved daily living assistance to the men of the regiment. Mary Hays became known as Molly Pitcher because she carried pitchers (or buckets) full of water to quench the thirst of the artillerymen during the battle.

During the Battle of Monmouth her husband who, as the story goes, was wounded or fell ill in the battle. When her husband went down, Mary Hays ran to his side. Putting down her water carrier, she cleaned the barrel of his gun and began firing it herself. Other versions of the story say that she began cleaning the barrel of his cannon and helped her husband fire it. Acknowledging her valor during the war, in 1822 the Pennsylvania legislature voted her a pension of $40 per year.

Hays's first husband died in 1786 and Hays went on the marry John McCauley. Hays continued to live in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, working as a domestic for various local families. She died there on January 22, 1832.

Honored After Death


In the years after her death, Hays was honored as Molly Pitcher by her home community. In 1876, some residents of Carlisle arranged to put a stone engraved "Molly Pitcher" on her grave, which previously had no marker. By 1905, a cannon, flag, and flagstaff were added to her grave. In 1916, the state of Pennsylvania put up a monument in her honor.

While Hays is often assumed to be the Molly Pitcher around whom the legend formed, there were other women who played a similar role in other Revolutionary War battles. Most military companies had several women as so-called "camp followers" who did the cooking, laundry, and sewing. Women like Margaret Corbin, who participated in a battle at New York's Fort Washington (or Fort Tryon, depending on the source) in November 1776, had a story similar to McCauley's and is also considered a candidate as the original Molly Pitcher.

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