NOVEMBER 15, 2013 · 11:40 AM | EDIT
Are You a Modern Day Molly
On a steamy hot day in June 1778 a legend was born. It was on this day that Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley saved the lives of many gunners by providing water during the heat of the battle and taking up the gunner position when her husband William fell to heat exhaustion. Mary Ludwig was born to German settlers in New Jersey on Oct 13, 1754. At the age of 24 she was hired as a domestic servant by Dr. and Mrs. Irvine in Carlisle, Pa. It was during this period that she met William Hays, whom she married on July 24, 1769. William joined the Colonial Army in 1777 and Mary joined her husband in the winter at Valley Forge and became a camp follower. Along with Martha Washington, who joined her husband every winter, Mary tended to the sick, cooked, washed and mended clothes to help the poorly equipped army.
On June 24, 1979 Washington decided to attack the retreating British regiment at Monmouth. The temperature was over 100 degrees and many of the soldiers were suffering from heat exhaustion. Mary was said to have brought water to the men, not only for themselves but also to cool and to wet rags to load the cannons. This earned her the nick name Molly Pitcher. When William, a gunner for the army, fell to heat exhaustion, Mary took to loading the cannon and continued despite a narrow miss by enemy fire that tore her skirts. She continued to fight alongside the men until darkness ended the battle.
For her actions in the battle George Washington issued Mary a warrant as a noncommissioned officer. It is said that she went by Sergeant Molly for the rest of her life. Both she and William survived the war and they had a son, John. After Williams’s death, Mary remarried John McCauley, thus the name Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. On Feb. 21, 1822 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania awarded Mary McCauley an annual pension of $40 for her service. Mary died at the age of 78 in Carlisle and is buried in the old graveyard under the name Molly McCauley.
Molly is an embodiment of the spirit of American women, brave, caring and resourceful. An old revolutionary rhyme tells the story:
Moll Pitcher she stood by her gun
And rammed the charges home, sir;
And thus on Monmouth bloody field
A sergeant did become, sir.
“Molly” was an inspiration and a testament to the bravery of women. Do we women today have the bravery and determination to defend what we know to be right? Are you willing to be a Modern Molly?