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Photo of men in British uniforms marching with flags
"British troops" at a re-enactment of the Battle of Monmouth, 1978

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The Battle of Monmouth
A Local Legacy

Her name was Mary Hays McCauly, but she was better known as Molly Pitcher. Do you know who she was? Or how she got her name?

Mary Hays was the wife of William Hays, an artilleryman who fought in the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolutionary War.

The battle began as General Henry Clinton led his British forces from Philadelphia and started marching through New Jersey. On the morning of June 28, 1778, a scorching hot day, General George Washington ordered General Charles Lee to attack the British near Monmouth, New Jersey. The British and American armies fought all day in the intense heat.

Dodging the bullets was Mary Hays, who brought pitcher after pitcher of water to the thirsty troops. She also assisted the injured troops. When her husband fell in battle, she took his place at the cannon. This was the second time on an American battlefield that a woman had worked a cannon. (The first was Margaret Corbin during the defense of Fort Washington in 1776.)

For her heroic role, General Washington made her a noncommissioned officer. After that she was widely known as "Sergeant Molly." A sculpture on the battle monument commemorates her courageous efforts.

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