Graphic of Army Women's Museum Logo

US Army Women's Museum - Fort Lee, Virginia 


Margaret Corbin & Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley

Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)

 

Margaret Corbin, Revolutionary War

Molly Corbin - Photo of illustration by Herbert Knotel

During the Revolutionary War, a few courageous females served in combat alongside their husbands.

When Fort Washington on Manhattan Island came under attack by the Hessians under British Command on November 16, 1776, Margaret Corbin stood at a cannon beside her husband John and handled ammunition.  When he was fatally wounded, she took his place at the cannon until she herself was  wounded.  After the battle, her comrades took her across the Hudson River to Fort Lee, New Jersey, where she received medical care. 

On June 29, 1779, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, the decision-making body of the executive branch, allocated Margaret a $30 stipend "to relieve her present necessities" and recommended that the Board of War give her a pension.  Congress received a letter from the Board of War supporting the Executive Council's recommendation.  Congress immediately authorized that Margaret receive, for life, one-half of the monthly pay allotted to soldiers and as a one-time allocation, a complete outfit of clothing. .

 

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, Revolutionary War

Battle of Monmouth (Associated with Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley) - Photo of a painting by Ferris in 1892.

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley gained a nickname of "Molly Pitcher" in 1778 by carrying water to the men on the Revolutionary battlefield at Monmouth, New Jersey.  As did Margaret Corbin, Mary Hays McCauley replaced her husband, Captain John Hays, when he collapsed at his cannon.  Many women who carried water to men on the battlefield were called "Molly Pitchers," a term.  At the hands of storytellers after the Revolution, "the name and imagery of "Molly Pitcher" offered a popular and precious symbol of extraordinary female bravery - and marital fidelity - in war."  A more recent association is "selfless service" during war.

Sources:

Archives of the US Army Women's Museum - Photos from personal donation.

 

Schulz, Constance B.  "Daughters of Liberty:  The History of Women in the Revolutionary War Records."  Prologuem 16 (Fall 1984): pp. 139-53.

 

Hall, Edward H.  Margaret Corbin:   Heroine of the Battle of Fort Washington, November 16, 1776.  NY: Amer Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1943.

 

Leonard, Elizabeth D.  All the Daring of the Soldier, Women of the Civil War Armies.  NY:  Norton, 1999:  pp 154-55.

 

Wensyl, James W.  "Captain Molly."  Army 31 (Nov 1981):  pp 48-53.