Friday, June 22, 2012

Intern's Corner: The Battle of Monmouth

Molly Pitcher
By Mark Relation, DLAR Intern

Mary Hays, or Molly Pitcher, was a Revolutionary War heroine famous for carrying water to the parched Continental troops during the Battle of Monmouth, on June 28th, 1778.  The supply of water was of particular importance to the men, as the extreme summer heat from the unseasonably hot day “destroyed more than the action.” In fact the weather was so intense, that Lieutenant General Clinton reported that “a great part of those we [the British] lost fell dead as they advanced, without a wound.”  The name Molly Pitcher comes from an 18th century term for women who worked in taverns, and likely also was used to refer to women such as Mary Hays who brought water to Continental troops.  In some more sensational accounts, Pitcher is also credited with taking the place of her wounded husband at his post manning an artillery piece  This was a job she performed with great skill and courage even as one enemy cannon shot passed right between her legs, miraculously just ripping her petticoat.  Accounts vary, and there is no definitive proof of her actual involvement in the battle, but Molly Pitcher lives on as one of the greatest Revolutionary War heroines.  Her bravery, whether real or invented, inspired many to keep up the fight and stay strong no matter what.

Quotes from Rees, John U. “Exceeding Hot & water is scarce…” Monmouth Campaign Weather, 15 June to 7 July, 1778. p. 11

Information from 
Kortenhof, Kurt. "This Week in History: May/June." The History Channel Magazine May-June 2006: 48.
Perrine, William Davison. Molly Pitcher in Monmouth County, New Jersey,1778 to 1957. Freehold, NJ: n.p., 1958. Print.

MOLLY PITCHER. (Ten American Girls from History 1917). 
By George Alfred Williams, 1917.

For further information on Molly Pitcher, see the following, available at the David Library.

A Molly Pitcher Chronology by Samuel Stelle Smith.

A Molly Pitcher Sourcebook by David G. Martin.

Molly Pitcher, Young Patriot by Augusta Stevenson;
illustrated by Gene Garriott. 

A Short history of Molly Pitcher: the heroine of the Battle of Monmouth:
together with an account of the ceremonies incident to the unveiling of
the cannon planted over her grave in the Old Graveyard in Carlisle,
 By the Patriotic Order of Sons of America on June 28, 1905.

1 comment:

  1. From a later period, but still really interesting....I heard a wonderful presentation by Niagara (NY) County historian at the NYSHA conference last week. The subject was Betsy Doyle, wife of Andrew Doyle of the US Artillery. Andrew was captured at the Battle of Queenston. Betsy stayed at Fort Niagara. During the shelling of the fort in Nov. 1812, Betsy carried hot shot from the furnace up to the gun crews. The story is much longer. A good summation may be found at