Mary Ludwig Hays
Battle of Monmouth
Last week we talked about Anne Bradstreet and the role of women in the Puritan colonies. Today I want to talk about some other women who've contributed to American history - some famous and some not so famous. The first woman I'd like to talk about is Molly Pitcher. Those of you who are familiar with the name may know her as a hero of the American Revolution. But, in fact, there never was a woman named Molly Pitcher. Her real name was actually Mary Ludwig Hays. She got the nickname Molly Pitcher for her acts of bravery during the Revolutionary War. As the story goes, when Mary's or Molly's husband, John Hays, enlisted in the artillery, Mary followed like many other wives did. She helped out doing washing and cooking for the soldiers. She was known to be a pretty unusual woman - she smoked a pipe and chewed tobacco. Anyway, in the summer of 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, it was a blistering hot day - maybe over 100 degrees and fifty soldiers died of thirst during the battle. Molly wasn't content to stay back at camp. Instead, she ran through gunshots and cannon fire carrying water in pitchers from a small stream out to the thirsty American soldiers. The relief that she brought with her pitchers of water gave her the legendary nickname Molly Pitcher. The story also says that she continued to load and fire her husband's cannon after he was wounded. They say she was so well liked by the other soldiers that they called her "Sergeant Molly". In fact, legend has it that George Washington himself gave her the special military title.