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Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley: Molly Pitcher

Written By: Off the Grid News Service  |  Posted: Thursday, November 17th, 2011

             Born in 1754, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley was the daughter of a New Jersey dairy farmer. Apparently dairy farming wasn't for her, because young Mary became a domestic servant at the age of thirteen and married the same year. Her husband, William Hays, caught Revolutionary fever and later enlisted as a gunner in the Pennsylvania Artillery.

            During the Philadelphia Campaign (1777-1778), Mary soon joined her husband as a camp follower and both wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. Mary Hays and other "camp followers" served as "water girls" during camp training, carrying water to drilling infantry troops on hot days. Artillery soldiers like her husband also required a constant supply of water to cool down the hot cannon barrel. In addition, they used a "ramrod" or "rammer" - a long pole with a wet rag tied to the end-to remove sparks and gunpowder out of the cannon barrel after each shot. A bucket of water was kept next to the cannon to allow soldiers to soak the rammer rag after every shot. These buckets had to be continually refilled.

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