Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Legend of Molly Pitcher

Greetings from Carlisle, Pennsylvania!

All children who attend school in Carlisle (as I did) are taught that the two most famous historical residents of our town were athlete Jim Thorpe, and Revolutionary War hero
Molly Pitcher:

The Legend of Molly Pitcher:

On June 28, 1778, Continental and British troops clashed at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. Reported as “one of the hottest days ever known,” soldiers dying of heat and thirst welcomed the sight of Mary Hays, wife of an artillery soldier, as she repeatedly brought water to the exhausted and wounded men. They nicknamed her Molly Pitcher. (Afterwards, any woman bringing water to soldiers on the field, was called “Molly Pitcher.”)

As the battle raged, Molly’s husband was wounded while manning his cannon. Molly rose to the occasion by picking up the rammer and servicing the cannon through out the remainder of the battle. Her heroic efforts were recognized by George Washington himself (as some stories claim) and by the State of Pennsylvania. SOURCE.

As I researched for this post, I found out this is a "legend" and not necessarily the truth. From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

Molly Pitcher was a nickname given to a woman who may have fought in the American Revolutionary War. Historians differ on the real identity of Molly Pitcher, or even if she existed. Since the various Molly Pitcher tales grew in the telling, historians now often regard Molly Pitcher as folklore, rather than history. However, Molly Pitcher may be a composite image inspired by the actions of a number of real women. The name itself may have originated as a nickname given to women who carried water to men on the battlefield during the war. This water was not for drinking, as is popularly believed, but for swabbing the cannons.

This blows me away. All these years I thought this was a real person - especially since we were taught the story as absolute historical fact. If Molly Pitcher isn't real, then WHO is this woman who's buried in Carlisle's Old Cemetery?...


alnhouston said...

What a treat to have such a colorful history. Houston wasn't even founded until 1836, sure we have the Battle of San Jacinto and some pretty colorful characters...but no Molly Pitcher.
Cool posts, the photos of hometowns are cool.

Joy said...

Well, that source is Wikipedia.

Timmy said...

Interesting. I'm curious about something. What is a Whiskey Rebel?

Anonymous said...

I'm always loathe to believe historians, who over- intellectualize these things. I'd go with the local legends, if only because they are more interesting!

David Dust said...

Joy -

I know, Wikipedia is always suspect. But upon further investigation, other sources confirm this as "legend", not fact.


David Dust said...


CLICK HERE for information regarding the Whiskey Rebellion.


Berry Blog said...

It's Molly Pitcher. there, it's settled.
Hey, i too was born in Cumberland County-Maine.
Happy T's
xoxoxoxox -Charlie

Meeg said...

She was one down-ass chick.

Anonymous said...

you should know that things on wikipedia can be edited and someone stupid could have changed it so our fact wont be so powerful as they were. never listen or read from wikipedia because they never tell the truth! its totally a lesson!

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