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Molly Pitcher at the 1778 Battle of Monmouth, Engraving, 1859


Molly Pitcher is a fabled figure said to have fought during the Revolutionary War. Women served in many capacities during the Revolution, doing everything from laundry to serving as armed and uniformed soldiers. The name “Molly Pitcher” is a generic term with “Molly” being a nickname for Mary, a common name during the time, and “Pitcher” describing tasks done by women such as fetching water. The real figure behind the legend is possibly Mary Ludwig Hays McCauly, but Molly could also be a composite figure of various women who served during the war. As tradition goes, Molly Pitcher was the wife of a soldier during the battle of Monmouth. Molly’s husband fell during the battle and she took his place at servicing an artillery piece, much to her peril. As she was working, a cannon ball from the opposing side landed between her legs, missing her body by mere inches; undaunted, she continued at the cannon for the rest of the battle.

Citation: Portrait, Molly Pitcher, engraving by J.C. Armytage. Library of Virginia Visual Studies Collection, Richmond, VA.


History: VS.5
Art:4.1, 5.1, 
English: 4.7, 5.7

Suggested Questions

Artistic Exploration: Draw cartoons of Molly Pitcher taking on various roles in the Revolution.

In Their Shoes: Write a diary entry for a day in the life of Molly Pitcher. What did you do? What challenges did you face? Any victories? 

Artisitic Exploration: Examine the drawing of Molly Pitcher at the cannon. Looking at the posture and facial expressions of the soldiers around her, what can you conclude about her actions and her bravery? Be specific. 

Artisitic Exploration: Why do you think the artist chose to depict Molly Pitcher's breasts partially exposed? In your opinion, would this be something you would see in a contemporary drawing on the same topic? Why or why not?


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