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. Mary was a short woman who often wore a white dress. Over this she wore a striped skirt. This skirt was split in the middle, and pulled to either side. She also wore a white frilled cap.
Her actions during the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778 became legendary. There is some misunderstanding about the actual identity of Molly Pitcher. That she actually existed there is no doubt. Some sources claim that her original name was Mary Ludwig, and that she was born in 1754 to German immigrants. Now, other sources claim that her original surname is unknown, though she is thought to have been Irish. As a young girl she went to work as a domestic/servant for Dr. George M. Foukle in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She washed clothes, cleaned house and took care of the family's children. At age 16 she met and married a man by the name of Hays. There is also some misunderstanding on her husband's name whether it was John Hays or William Hays. Military records indicate that her husband was William Hays, who enlisted as a gunner in a Pennsylvania artillery regiment in 1777. Apparently John Hays was never listed as a member of the artillery.
Mary, nicknamed Molly had a desire to be near her husband and eventually joined her husband as a campfollower during the Philadelphia Campaign (1777-1778) in New Jersey. Molly soon followed William to the continental army's camp at Valley Forge. Snow lay deep on the ground, and Washington's troops had run out of everything that they needed to keep on fighting. Their shoes had holes in them from tramping over miles of rough ground. They had no blankets or warm clothes. Molly and other women who followed the men to Valley Forge did whatever they could to help. They cooked and cleaned, washed and mended clothes, and nursed the sick. On June 18, 1778 the British army with artillery, supplies and the loyalist populace of the city left Philadelphia and began the march to the Northeast. General Washington marched east from Valley Forge seeking to intercept the slow moving British column. When Washington arrived at the nearby Monmouth courthouse on the morning of June 28, 1778, he ordered his generals to attack the British. Washington ordered General Charles Lee to lead an advance guard of 5000 soldiers to attack the British. He would send in a rear guard of more men soon after the fighting was under way. General Lee, who had been opposed to an all out engagement with the British, was reluctant to attack, but he and his advance force were drawn into battle by British forces. Lee lay to the west of the Middletown road and should have delivered a coordinated attack on the slow moving British column. Properly planned this could have halted the British withdrawal to the northeast and enabled the main American army under Washington to attack from the rear. It seems that Lee gave no proper orders to his commander. He tells his generals he will have to make plans as he encounters the enemy and learns their situation. He does not gather information or look at maps. Skirmishes with parties of British troops took place as Lee's force moved tentatively forward towards the Middletown Road.
William Hays was among Lee's advance guard marching to battle. Now, most of the soldiers, including George Washington, said good-bye to the women who had joined them at Valley Forge. But William Hays didn't. When he marched toward the colony of New Jersey, Molly followed. On the Sunday of June 28, 1778 it was a hot stifling day where the temperature approached 100 degrees. Molly could see that the day was going to be a very hot one. She had spotted a green and mossy place where a spring gushed up. She ran and filled her pitcher with cold water. Mary Hays was earning her nickname "Molly Pitcher" by bringing...
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