On this date back in 1778, the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse took place. Maybe I am looking for a little inspiration with all that is transpiring but my g-g-g grandfather fought in the battle and received a promotion on the line for it. I’ve been to the battlefield, one of the best preserved of the Revolutionary War and the site of the longest single day battle of the war. It also involved the heaviest artillery exchange of the war.
During the battle, the legend of Molly Pitcher was born. A woman, Molly Hays, was carrying water to the soldiers – it was brutally hot that day and dozens died of heat exhaustion – when her husband was struck down next to his cannon. She jumped in to take his place, keeping the piece in action throughout the battle. Below is a famous poem about her:
By Laura Elizabeth Richards
All day the great guns
barked and roared;
All day the big balls screeched and soared;
All day, ‘mid the sweating gunners grim,
Who toiled in their smoke-shroud dense and dim,
Sweet Molly labored with courage high,
With steady hand and watchful eye,
Till the day was ours,
and the sinking sun
Looked down on the field of Monmouth won,
And Molly standing beside her gun.
Now, Molly, rest your weary arm!
Safe, Molly, all is safe from harm.
Now, woman, bow your aching head,
And weep in sorrow o’er your dead!
Next day on that field so hardly won,
Stately and calm stands Washington,
And looks where our gallant Greene doth lead
A figure clad in motley weed-
A soldier’s cap and a soldier’s coat
Masking a woman’s petticoat.
He greets our Molly in kindly wise:
He bids her raise her tearful eye;
And now he hails her before them all
Comrade and soldier, whate’er befall.
“And since she has played a man’s full part,
A man’s reward for her loyal heart!
And Sergeant Molly Pitcher’s name
Be writ henceforth on the shield of fame!”
Oh, Molly, with your eyes’ so blue!
Oh, Molly, Molly, here’s to you!
Sweet honor’s roll will aye be richer
To hold the name of Molly Pitcher.