People of the Revolutionary War: The Story of Molly Pitcher

Mary Hays McCauly was a notable woman who made her mark in American history book for her legendary deeds in the Revolutionary War. She was known as Molly Pitcher because she provided water to soldiers who fought in the Battle of Monmouth Court House.

McCauly was born on October 13, 1744 in New Jersey. In her growing years, she came to be known as Molly. When she became a teenager, she worked in the house of General William Irvine who lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. For several years, she was a family servant. During the summer of 1769, she met a barber named John Hays. They tied the knot in the same year. After they were married, John pursued his dreams of becoming a soldier, enlisting in Proctor’s First Pennsylvania Artillery. Stirred by her strong love for John Hays, Molly accompanied him, even unto the battlefield.

During the American Revolution, all wives of soldiers were left at home to take care of the children. The bold move by Molly was something that doesn’t happen all the time. In general, private soldiers took their wives with them. The wives would serve the soldiers by doing the laundry and cooking their meals. Women were normally assigned to sleep in wagons so they could be transported from one place to another. 

Every account of the Battle of Monmouth would include the story of Molly Pitcher. The date of the battle fell on June 28, 1778. The British soldiers were headed by General Clinton. On the American side, General George Washington was the leader. The main battleground was an open field. Unfortunately, there was a lack of tactics on the side of the Americans. They became disorganized and broke their ranks. It was during this time that Molly played her inspirational role, lifting the demoralized American soldiers. Unfazed by all the danger and gore of battle, she possessed the presence of mind and courage to help the Americans.

John Hays was in charge of firing cannons. The day was very hot and the artillerymen were suffering from intense heat. Not far away, Molly gathered her strength and got a bucket. She began to bring the soldiers water from a nearby spring. When the soldiers were thirsty, they would call out “Molly Pitcher” and she would carry water to them. From then on, the term “Molly Bucket” was used on the women who carried water during the war. Other than that, Molly Pitcher also helped to nurse the wounded soldiers and even saved a crippled Continental soldier by carrying him out of harm’s way.

Unfortunately, John Hays was killed in the battle. Molly Pitcher was running towards him but there was really nothing which could be done. Instead of going home to mourn her beloved husband, she fought in his spirit. Just when the rest of the cannon crew was about to withdraw, Molly Pitcher grabbed the rammer from her husband’s hands, continuing his work. Throughout the battle, she handled the job very well, until the Americans won.

After the war, General Washington personally awarded a warrant as a non-commissioned officer to Molly Pitcher so she became known as “Sergeant Molly”. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized her bravery, granting a yearly pension of $40. In 1832, Molly Pitcher died. Fittingly, she was buried with military honors reserved for heroes. Molly Pitcher was buried in the Old Graveyard located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There are two monuments built in her memory.

Follow these links to find out more about Molly Pitcher.

  • Molly Pitcher: The page provides an overview of her exploits.
  • An American Heroine: Come here to view a video of Molly Pitcher.
  • People of the Revolution: The page offers information on her heroic deeds.
  • War Heroine: Another account of Molly Pitcher’s contributions to the war.
  • A Great Woman: A brief account of Molly Pitcher’s accomplishments.
  • Women in History: The page provides a picture and other information about Molly Pitcher.
  • Biography: The page offers a biography of Molly Pitcher.
  • Who Was Molly Pitcher: The article by Dr. Garry Stone provides more detailed information about her.
  • At the Cannon: The picture shows Molly Pitcher manning the cannon as her husband lays dead.
  • Battle of Monmouth: The Worcester Polytechnic Institute provides a brief history of the battle.
  • Maps: The University of Virginia provides the maps of the Battle of Monmouth.
  • The Battle of Monmouth: The article highlights the important events in the battle, including Molly Pitcher’s role.
  • Monmouth Battlefield: The National Park Service provides information on the location of the battle.
  • The Women of ’76: The colored picture shows Molly Pitcher manning the cannon.
  • More on Molly Pitcher: The page provides the legend and myths about her.
  • Jolly Molly Pitcher: The page presents the lyrics to the song written by Tom Adair and Sgt. Dick Uhl.
  • Molly Pitcher Story: Rev. Symmes of the Old Tennent Church recounts her story.
  • Descendants: The page is dedicated to Molly Pitcher’s descendants with slide show, pictures, and other information.
  • The Saga: An account of the Molly Pitcher story from another angle.
  • Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley: The Central Bucks School District present yet another telling of the Molly Pitcher story.