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Although Margaret Corbin's experience during the American Revolutionary War is very similar to Mary Ludwig Hays McCauly's, it was Mary Hays who earned the nickname Molly Pitcher. Mary's husband, William Hays, enlisted in Proctor's 4th Pennsylvania Artillery regiment of the Continental Line in 1777. Mary, one of a number of female camp followers, spent her time washing and mending clothes for the soldiers. During the heat of battle, she would carry water from a nearby spring to the artillery crews. The water, while providing a cool drink to the artillerymen, was primarily used for swabbing down the cannon barrels which heated up considerably from repeated firing.
Dr. Albigence Waldo wrote in his diary after the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778: "One of the camp women I must give a little prase to. Her gallant, whom she attended in battle, being shot down, she immediately took up his gun and cartridges and like a Spartan heroine fought with astonishing bravery, discharging the piece with as much regularity as any soldier present. This a wounded officer, whom I dressed, told me he did see himself, she being in his platoon, and assured me I might depend on its truth."
"Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth"
by J. C. Armytage, after a painting by Alonzo Chapell
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
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