Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 29th
Molly Pitcher
Tradition says that on this day in 1778, the day after the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey, Mary Ludwig Hays of Pennsylvania – known to her friends as Molly – stood before General Washington and received a warrant as a non-commissioned officer in return for bravery in the battle.

Like many colonial wives, Molly had joined her husband, John, when he marched off to fight the British during the Revolutionary War. She spent her time in the camps, cooking, washing, and taking care of supplies.

June 28, 1778, found John Hays manning a cannon at Monmouth on an afternoon when the temperature soared close to one hundred degrees. Gasping soldiers began to drop from thirst and exhaustion, so Molly grabbed an artillery bucket and carried water from a cool spring to the troops. According to legend, the grateful men cheered “Molly with her pitcher,” and afterward she was known as Molly Pitcher.

Molly also nursed the wounded that day. At one point she hoisted an injured soldier to her shoulders and lugged him clear of a British charge. When her husband fell wounded beside his cannon, she seized the rammer staff and worked the rest of the day swabbing and loading the gun under heavy fire. An eyewitness to the battle described how “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.”

The next day, it is said, George Washington thanked the barefooted, powder-stained Molly. In 1822 the Pennsylvania legislature voted to pay her $40 a year in recognition of her service. Since then, the name Molly Pitcher has come to stand for all the brave women who came to their country’s aid during the war for independence.

American History Parade
1776
Mission San Francisco de Asís is founded on the site of the future city of San Francisco.

1854
Mission San Francisco de Asís is founded on the site of the future city of San Francisco.

1925
An earthquake levels much of downtown Santa Barbara, California.

1953
President Eisenhower signs legislation creating the Interstate Highway System.

1995
In a post–Cold War show of international cooperation, the shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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