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Biographies Unit Biographies

Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley) 1754–1832
Patriot Heroine of the Battle of Monmouth

In 1778, the Continental Army was recovering from a string of shocking defeats. A Pennsylvania woman named Mary Hays was with the exhausted and freezing soldiers camped at Valley Forge during that terrible winter. Like many American women, she had come to travel with her husband William and help the soldiers. Although women helped in many ways, few actually fought. Mary Hays was an exception.

After the harsh winter, the American soldiers were ready for their next battle. That battle came in the summer of 1778 in Monmouth, New Jersey. It was over 100 degrees that day and Patriot soldiers were fainting from the heat. Mary Hays ran to a nearby stream to bring the suffering men pitchers of water. She earned the nickname “Molly Pitcher.” As he fired his cannon, Mary's husband dropped to the ground, wounded. Mary Hays rushed to the cannon and continued to fire. An enemy cannonball missed her by inches, but she kept firing. The Continental Army won the battle, and General George Washington later recognized Hays for her bravery.

Comprehension Check

In what ways was Mary Hays a hero at the Battle of Monmouth?

Critical Thinking

Why do you think Mary Hays is remembered today?