Molly Pitcher's Well - Freehold, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member 94RedRover
N 40° 16.240 W 074° 18.551
18T E 558734 N 4458028
Quick Description: Atop Perrine Hill, the Revolutionary legend of "America's First Heroine" emerged. Tales of the location of the "well" from which Molly Pitcher drew water vary. The American Guide Series reflects the popular theory of its day.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 6/21/2009 7:13:47 AM
Waymark Code: WM6MF0
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 6

Long Description:

"County 22 branches west from US 9 (see Tour 18) at FREEHOLD, m. (170 alt., 6,894 PpO ( see FREEHOLD), following Throckmorton St. to MOLLY PITCHER S WELL (L), 1.4 m., between the railroad and the road. The well is boarded over and shows few signs of care though it has a large historic marker. Three generations have venerated this boxed-in wellhead of wood and stone, though there is much dispute over the location of the original well ; some historians say it was buried when the rail road was graded. There is no question, however, that Molly, 23-year-old wife of an artilleryman, carried water to men faint with thirst in the heat of the Battle of Monmouth. The soldiers, hearing her called "Molly" by her husband, called out: "Here comes Molly and her pitcher!" This they shortened to Molly Pitcher, and thus she has lived in history.

She had come here to see her husband and, finding some of the gunners near prostration from the 96-degree heat, had caught up one of the artillery buckets and carried water from a nearby well or spring. Finding her husband disabled and another of the gun crew slain, she seized the swab and worked the rest of the day sponging the gun, keeping up its fire, and giving courage to the entire battery. After the battle Molly was thanked by Gen. Nathanael Greene, speaking for the entire army. Next day, barefooted and in her powder-stained dress, she was presented to Washington. Molly's husband, John Caspar Haye, recovered, and his wife remained with the army until the end of the war. Afterward she lived in Carlisle, Pa."

--- New Jersey, A Guide to Its Past and Present, 1939

Though the Ne Jersey Guide offers information following the legend of Molly Pitcher, recent historic researchers find slightly different tales. Mary "Molly" Hays McCauley was at the Battle of Monmouth. She did assist her husband's unit in the blistering heat and cannonade. But, in the excitement that ensued after the victorious battle, the tales of Molly's heroic action of helping fire the cannon may have been exagerated and confused with another Revolutionary War heroine named Margaret Corbin ("Captain Molly"). Corbin's husband was killed at the Battle of Fort Washington, New York on November 16, 1776.

Also, the exact place where Molly drew the water is unclear. The Guide places it at a covered well, which sits between the railroad and the road just west of Wemrock Road, which would have been yards ahead of the cannonade she was assisting and ad her running 200 yards towards the British line to draw water. Unlikely. There stillits a well, covere with a heavy slab, that sits near the Freehold/Manalapan Township border. There is no sign marking this well, as the park has identified the most likely place where Molly got the water...and this is not it.

And...by the way, she would have been carrying in an artillery bucket, not a pitcher, like legend says.

The Battle of Monmouth was waged in near 100 degree (F) heat, in the open, sunny fields of local farms. Historical accounts show that local wells had been run dry, and the water in the creeks surrounding the battlefield were muddy. The only clean water source readily accessible would have been a spring, which sits to the northeast of the regiment. About 200 yards BEHIND the line. The park has marked historical signs at this more probable site.

A private recorded a story telling how a cannonball flew right between Molly's legs, ripping her petticoat, but how the brave lady continued on her mission.

Book: New Jersey

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 565

Year Originally Published: 1939

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