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Molly Pitcher: The Brave Gunner Of The Battle Of Monmouth
by [?]

“Oh, but I would like to be a soldier!”

The exclamation did not come from a man or boy as might have been expected, but from Mary Ludwig, a young, blue-eyed, freckled, red-haired serving-maid in the employ of General Irving’s family, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Molly, as they called her, had a decided ability to do well and quickly whatever she attempted, and her eyes of Irish blue and her sense of humor must have been handed down to her somewhere along the line of descent, although her father, John George Ludwig, was a German who had come to America with the Palatines.

Having been born in 1754 on a small dairy farm lying between Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey, Molly’s early life was the usual happy one of a child who lived in the fields and made comrades of all the animals, especially of the cows which quite often she milked and drove to pasture. Like other children of her parentage she was early taught to work hard, to obey without question, and never to waste a moment of valuable time. In rain or shine she was to be found on the farm, digging, or among the live stock, in her blue-and-white cotton skirt and plain-blue upper garment, and she was so strong, it was said, that she could carry a three-bushel bag of wheat on her shoulder to the upper room of the granary. This strength made her very helpful in more than one way on the farm, and her parents objected strongly when she announced her determination to leave home and earn her living in a broader sphere of usefulness, but their objections were without avail.

The wife of General Irving, of French and Indian war fame, came to Trenton to make a visit. She wished to take a young girl back to Carlisle with her to assist in the work of her household, and a friend told her of Molly Ludwig. At once Mrs. Irving saw and liked the buxom, honest-faced country girl, and Molly being willing, she was taken back to the Irvings’ home. There she became a much respected member of the family, as well as a valuable assistant, for Molly liked to work hard. She could turn her hand to anything, from fine sewing, which she detested, to scrubbing floors and scouring pots and pans, which she greatly enjoyed, being most at home when doing something which gave her violent exercise. Meals could have been served off a floor which she had scrubbed, and her knocker and door-knobs were always in a high state of polish.

But though she liked the housework which fell to her lot, it was forgotten if by any chance the General began to talk of his experiences on the battle-field. One day, when passing a dish of potatoes at the noon meal, the thrilling account of a young artilleryman’s brave deed so stirred Molly’s patriotic spirit that she stood at breathless attention, the dish of potatoes poised on her hand in mid-air until the last detail of the story had been told, then with a prodigious sigh she proclaimed her fervent desire to be a soldier.

The General’s family were not conventional and there was a hearty laugh at the expense of the serving-maid’s ambition, in which Molly good-naturedly joined. Little did she dream that in coming days her wish was to be fulfilled, and her name to be as widely known for deeds of valor as that of the artilleryman who had so roused her enthusiasm.

So wholesome and energetic in appearance was Molly that she had many admirers, some of them fired with a degree of practical purpose, beyond their sentimental avowals. Molly treated them one and all with indifference except as comrades until John Hays, the handsome young barber of the town, much sought after by the girls of Carlisle, began to pay her attention, which was an entirely different matter. Molly grew serious-minded, moped as long as it was possible for one of her rollicking nature to mope–even lost her appetite temporarily–then she married the adoring and ecstatic Hays, and gave her husband a heart’s loyal devotion.