Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 11, 2009

Weekly Story: The Legend of Molly Pitcher



The most famous incident of the fight, next to Washington’s encounter with Lee, is the exploit of a camp follower named Molly Pitcher or Molly McGuire. She was a sturdy, red-haired, frecklefaced Irishwoman, and during the battle was engaged in carrying water to her husband, who was a cannoneer. A bullet killed him at his post and Molly, seizing his rammer as it fell, sprang to take his place. She served the gun with skill and courage, and on the following morning, covered with dirt and blood, she was presented by General Greene to Washington, who conferred upon her a sergeant’s commission.—Burton Egbert Stevenson, Poems of American History (1908).




‘T WAS hurry and scurry at Monmouth town,
For Lee was beating a wild retreat;
The British were riding the Yankees down,
And panic was pressing on flying feet.

Galloping down like a hurricane
Washington rode with his sword swung high,
Mighty as he of the Trojan plain
Fired by a courage from the sky.

“Halt, and stand to your guns!” he cried.
And a bombardier made swift reply.
Wheeling his cannon into the tide,
He fell ‘neath the shot of a foeman nigh.

Molly Pitcher sprang to his side,
Fired as she saw her husband do.
Telling the king in his stubborn pride
Women like men to their homes are true.

Washington rode from the bloody fray
Up to the gun that a woman manned.
“Molly Pitcher, you saved the day,”
He said, as he gave her a hero’s hand.

He named her sergeant with manly praise,
While her war-brown face was wet with tears—
A woman has ever a woman’s ways,
And the army was wild with cheers.

—Kate Brownlee Sherwood.