"You girls should have been with me at the battle of Monmouth and learned how to load a cannon." - Mary Hays Mcaary to Susan Hackendorn, c. 1830
As the temperature approached 100 degrees, and gunners collapsed from heat exhaustion, a plucky Irish water carrier stepped forward to help work Captain Francis Proctor's cannon. Memories of her heroism evolved into myth of "Molly Pitcher."
When the British infantry pursued General Scott's Continentals across the Sutfin farm, they were stopped by a barrage of canister and grapeshot. Most of the Continental artillery then switched to other targets, leaving Captain Proctor to bombard the battalion of Royal Highlanders pinned down in Derick Sutfin's cider orchard.
Private Joseph Martin, described watching, as " A woman?attended with her husband at the piece the whole time. While in the act of reaching a cartridge and having one of her feet as far before the other as she could step, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she?continued her occupation."
The woman was Mary Hays, wife of William Hays, Gunner, Captain Francis Proctor's company of the Pennsylvania or 4th Continental Artillery Regiment. After the war, the Hayses settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where, after outliving two husbands Molly died in 1832.