(Heroine of the Revolutionary War)
Mary Ludwig (Molly Pitcher) was born on October 13, 1754 to German immigrants who had moved to the colonies and settled on a dairy farm near Trenton, New Jersey. Mary was always a happy child and loved her family dearly, but when she was 13, she was sent to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to become a servant in the home of a Colonel William Irvine. Mary lived and worked for them for several years. It was there that she met her future husband, John Casper Hays.
They were married on July 24, 1769, and the couple had several happy years together. Then, the Revolutionary War broke out, and John enlisted in the Continental Army in 1775. Mary and John were so devoted to each other that she packed up and followed him to the battlefield. Of course, many other women did the same and joined their husbands to help with the cooking, washing, sewing, and other work around the camp, but Mary carried it further and did so much more.
Mary went right onto the battlefield carrying pitchers of clear spring water to the parched soldiers; hence, the nickname Mary Pitcher. She even hoisted the wounded on her slim back and carried them off the field. June 28, 1778 was one of the hottest summer's ever; the temperatures were nearing over a hundred degrees in Monmouth, and while Mary was carrying the pitchers of water to the soldiers, her husband fell from heat stroke while firing his cannon. Mary charged over to him, and after assuring herself that he was going to be all right, she seized the rammer and assisted in loading and firing it until victory was won.
At the close of the war, Mary and John returned to Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they continued to live happily ever after until John's death in 1788. Their only child had been born only 5 years prior. After that, Mary married John McCauley, a man who also had been a soldier...and her husband's friend. It was a very unhappy marriage. He was a very irresponsible man who squandered everything. Eventually, they were forced to sell the property left to her by her first husband.
Bitterly poor, Mary did not receive any recognition for her war effort until 1822 when, at the age of 68, she was awarded a pension in the amount of $40 annually. Until that time, Mary had gone back to work as a domestic.
Mary Ludwig Hays MacCauley died in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on January 22, 1832 at the age of 87. She was buried in the old Carlisle Cemetary with military honors...and a company of soldiers firing a salute to this brave women who risked her own life to do her part in the war effort. Today there is a Molly Pitcher rest area along the New Jersey Turnpike named in her honor for her service to the country.