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EXIT OF THE DAY
The Molly Pitcher Service Area I-95s Toward: EXIT 8; Hightstown, Freehold, East Windsor NJ
“Even for summer in central New Jersey, the weather was hot — over 100 degrees. Still the British kept coming. On the American side, General George Washington, rode back and forth ordering the men to hold the line. Those who manned the canon fired non-stop. While the men fired and loaded, wives and sisters ran back and forth from a local spring providing life-saving water.
Sometime during the battle, William Hays collapsed. Heat exhaustion overcame him. It has often been reported that Hays was killed in the battle, but it is now known that he survived.
As her husband was carried off the field, Mary Hays put down her water and stepped up. She took his place at the cannon.
For the rest of the day, in the heat of battle, Mary continued to "swab and load”. She used her husband's ramrod. At one point, a British cannonball flew between her legs. It tore away the bottom of her skirt. Mary supposedly said, "Well, that could have been worse.”
Molly Pitcher was a mythic name given to a woman said to have fought in the Battle of Monmouth It is generally believed to have been Mary Ludwig Hays. Since various Molly Pitcher tales grew in the telling, many historians regard Molly Pitcher as folklore rather than history, or suggest that Molly Pitcher may be a persona inspired by the actions of a number of women.
The name itself originated as a nickname given to women who carried water to men on the battlefield during the war. Molly was a common nickname for women named Mary in the Revolutionary time period. Through history Molly Pitcher became synonymous with women who kick butt!
What we DO know is this: at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, Mary Hays found a spring just before the battle. Two places on the battlefield are currently marked as the "Molly Pitcher Spring." Mary then spent much of the morning carrying water to soldiers - under heavy fire from British troops.
After the battle when the British withdrew, General Washington asked about the woman whom he had seen loading cannon under fire. In commemoration of her courage, he issued Mary Hays a warrant as a non-commissioned officer.
Afterwards, she was known as "Sergeant Molly.” It was a nickname that she used for the rest of her life… and it made her husband William, intensely proud.”
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