Tag Archives: Revolutionary War

Molly Pitcher: Revolutionary Hero

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The women of '76: "Molly Pitcher" th...

The women of ’76: “Molly Pitcher” the heroine of Monmouth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the Revolutionary War, it was not just the men who went to war against the British soldiers, thousands of women also took an active role in the war. It was common for wives of the officers and soldiers to follow their husbands to military camps to cook, sew, do laundry, and take care of the wounded and sick soldiers. Though the women also had to deal with the extreme weather conditions and died from diseases, they received less pay and less food than the men. Then there were the women who stayed at home, taking care of the farm and children, not knowing if their husbands were still alive. Then there is Molly Pitcher, a nickname for the women who provided water to the soldiers and to cool the cannons down. Two Molly Pitchers, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley and Margaret Cochran Corbin, participated in battle by manning the cannons.

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley was born in 1754 near Trenton, New Jersey. She married a barber named William Hays in 1769. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he enlisted in Proctor’s 4th Pennsylvania Artillery and Mary followed him to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Mary became a Molly Pitcher, bringing water to the troops. During the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, Mary was bringing her husband water to cool the cannon when her husband was wounded. Seeing her husband was wounded, Mary loaded the cannon herself. When she was almost hit by a cannon ball that sped between her legs and ripped her dress, she said “Well, that could have been worse.” The legend is that General George Washington heard of her actions and made her a non-commissioned officer in the army. From then on, she called herself Sergeant Molly. On February 21, 1822, Pennsylvania awarded her an annual pension of $40 for her service.

Margaret Cochran Corbin was born November 12, 1751. When her and her brother were visiting their uncle, Indians attacked their home, killing their father and kidnapping their mother. In 1772, she married John Corbin. When war broke out, she followed her husband to war. During the Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, Margaret followed her husband to battle. When she was bringing her husband water for the canon (she was also a Molly Pitcher), she saw her husband’s partner die. She helped her husband load the cannon, and when he was killed, she took over firing the cannon by herself. Though the British ended up winning, her cannon was the last one to stop firing. She was found in critical condition with 3 musket ball injuries: the jaw, chest, and left arm. She would be unable to use her left arm for the rest of her life. On June 26, 1776, the State of Pennsylvania gave her $30.00 to help with her expenses. On July 6, 1779, the Continental Congress awarded her with a lifelong pension (though it was half the amount a man would receive.) She became the first American women to receive a pension. To help with her disability, General Henry Knox and Quartermaster William Price helped get her someone to help her bathe and dress. She died on January 16, 1800. In 1926, her remains were discovered and she was buried at West Point with full military honors, becoming the only Revolutionary War veteran buried this way.

During the Revolutionary War, women either stayed at home to take care of the household or they followed their husbands to camp to take care of the soldiers. Then there were a few women who unexpectedly saw combat, but demonstrated bravery on the battlefield. When Molly Pitcher’s husband was unable to fire the cannon, she took over and continued firing, knowing full well that she was risking her life. The two women became heroes, but their pensions were still less than men even though they saw action. The male soldiers had enlisted themselves in the army and were trained for months for combat, and these women were only there to take care of their husbands and yet, they risked their lives to protect the soldiers. The Molly Pitchers show how women are able to rise up to the occasion when their country needs them. 

Sources:

Margaret Cochran Corbin

Molly Pitcher. biography

Molly Pitcher

 

Sybil Ludington: Female Paul Revere

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Statue of Sybil Ludington on Gleneida Avenue i...

Statue of Sybil Ludington on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel, New York by Anna Hyatt Huntington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Majority of American children grow up knowing about Paul Revere due to the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm,” says the poem, describing how Revere (plus other riders) warned the American colonists that the British soldiers were getting ready to attack. But do children know who Sybil Ludington is? Like Revere, Ludington alerted the colonists about the British attacks. Unlike Revere, she traveled 40 miles, fought a highway man, rode through pouring rain, and she was only 16.

Sybil Ludington was born in April 1761 in Fredericksburg (now Ludingtonville section of the town of Kent, New York). Her father was Colonel Henry Ludington who commanded the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia during the Revolutionary War. On April 25, 1777, a 2,000 men British force commanded by General William Tyron landed at Fairfield, Connecticut. The soldiers moved to Danbury to search for Continental Army supplies and began setting storehouses and homes on fire. Messengers were sent from Danbury to find reinforcements.

At 9 p.m. that night, Sybil was helping her eleven siblings to bed when there was a loud knock  at the door. The messenger from Danbury relayed the message that the Danbury residents needed help. The messenger was exhausted and did not know the land, so Sybil volunteered to gather the men. Sybil took her hose, Star, and rode into the rainy night, shouting “The British are burning Danbury…muster at Ludington’s!”  Sybil had to avoid the British soldiers and British loyalists and when she encountered a highwayman, she used a giant stick to defend herself. Sybil traveled over 40 miles (twice the length of Paul Revere) before returning home, arriving around dawn the next day. When she returned home, 400 soldiers were gathered at her father’s war. Though the soldiers arrived too late to save Danbury, the soldiers helped drive the British back to the East Coast. Sybil was congratulated by her friends, neighbors, and even General George Washington.

The popularity of Sybil has grown over the last 100 years; there is now a poem about her, statues of her in Putnam County, and she appeared on a stamp in 1975. Known as the Female Paul Revere, Sybil’s journey was actually much harder than Revere’s due to the fact that it was longer, it was raining, and she was a teenage girl with just a riding stick for protection. And while Revere was captured, Sybil was able to avoid capture. Sybil shows how women are just as brave and patriotic as men are.

Sources:

Sybil Ludington

Sybil Ludington (1761-1839)

Confirmation Readings

Significance of Washington crossing the Delaware River

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Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...

Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While majority of Americans spend Christmas Day opening presents around a Christmas tree, there was a time when a group of men spent Christmas Day preparing for battle. Hundreds of years ago, the colonists were too busy fighting for independence from Great Britain to celebrate Christmas. It was on Christmas night when George Washington led his men across the Delaware River, a moment that would forever be immortalize since it was one of the turning points of the war. By the end of November 1776, morale amongst the army was low due to the colonists losing several battles that resulted in losing New York to the British. As the end of the year approached so did many enlistments. Washington was worried that the colonists would forget about the cause and return home, further depleting the number of colonists in the army.

On December 19, Thomas Paine published the pamphlet “Common Sense” stating “These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Washington ordered that this be read out loud to his army in order to remind them that even though times were currently hard, they were fighting for freedom. The next day, General Horatio Gates and General John Sullivan arrived to camp while more militia arrived from New Jersey and Pennsylvania; Washington now had enough men to plan one more attack before the year was over.

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Tr...

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Trumbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washington was planning to attack the Hessians in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians were Prussian soldiers hired by the British Army to fight in the American Revolutionary War. The term “Hessians” comes from the fact that majority of the Prussian solders were from Hesse-Kassel. About 30,000 Prussians served during the American Revolutionary War. The surprise attack was kept secret from the American army and on Christmas morning, Washington ordered that every man, including the musicians, carry a loaded musket and march toward the river. As the men approached the river a storm began – first it rained, which then turned to sleet, and then it finally began to snow. Washington hoped to begin crossing the river at sunset but due to the weather, they did not begin to cross until 90 minutes after the sunset. Washington put Chief of Artillery Henry Knox in charge of the crossing which involved horses, carriages, canons, supplies, and 2,400 soldiers crossing the icy river in boats. Famous men that crossed the river included future President James Monroe, future Justice of the United States John Marshall, and future Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The soldiers had to dodge giant floating icebergs and avoid falling into the freezing water. After the crossing was finished at 3 am on December 26, the army was split into two groups; one group was led by Washington and General Nathanael Greene and the other was led by General Sullivan. While the Hessians were waking up, and recovering from their Christmas celebration, the American army attacked. The battle only lasted 90 minutes and while 4 Americans were killed, 22 Hessians were also killed and 1,000 were taken prisoners. In the next few weeks, Washington and his army won two more battles: the Second Battle of Trenton and Princeton.

The Crossing of the Delaware did not mean much to the colonists at the moment since little damage was done to the British Army in the next few battles resulted from the crossing, but if Washington had failed to cross, then Trenton would have remained under Hessians’ control. The Second Battle of Trenton and the Princeton Battle never would have happened, resulting in morale remaining low among the soldiers and an increasing number of army men returning home. As British General Cornwallis said at the end of the war, Washington won his highest laurels along the banks of the Delaware.

Reasons why the Second Amendment Exists

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Due to the number of murders caused by guns, many in the United States wish to see the Second Amendment destroyed. To them, they

English: This is a photograph of the statue re...

 Captain John Parker s Kitson and erected in 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

do not see why the common person needs to have a gun in a world where the public is protected by police and the army. In reality, the Second Amendment is one of the most important Amendments in the Constitution. It states “A Well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Though it can be translated into several different ways, it is believed by majority to mean that the common person has a right to own weapons for self-defense. Though the current American government was designed to protect the rights of its citizens, there was a time when Americans were forced to fight for their rights against the king who once protected them.

After numerous wars with its European neighbors, Great Britain needed money and began raising taxes in North America. The Townshend Acts were imposed on 1767; items being imported into the colonies were now taxed. The Americans became enraged that they could not represent themselves and began boycotting the Acts. The leaders asked the king for more protection from the colonists and in 1768, more British troops arrived in Boston. After the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, Parliament enacted the Intolerable Acts to punish the colonies, especially Massachusetts. In 1774, it abolished the provincial government of Massachusetts. On September 1774, the British removed gunpowder and other military supplies; to the colonists, this meant that the British were preparing to go to war with the defenseless colonists.

In 1775, it became known among the rebels that the British were heading to Concord to seize and destroy more military supplies. Concord secretly divided the supplies among near-by towns. On April 18, British troops embarked from boats in Boston and prepared to head to Concord to destroy the supplies and capture Sam Adams and John Hancock, the leaders of the rebels. Paul Revere and William Dawes were sent to warn the towns though only Samuel Prescott, a rebel that met along the way, made it to Concord. At Lexington, 80 militiamen led by Captain John Parker, met British Major John Pitcairn and the 700 British troops. “Stand your ground; don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here” said Parker. Pitcairn demanded the troops lay down their arms but before the colonists could, a shot was fired. The colonists retreated after the quick scuffle – eight colonists were killed.

When the British arrived in Concord they found out that most of the supplies were gone. They decided to burn the small amount of supplies they found but the militiamen hurried to Concord’s North Bridge because they believed the whole town was being burned. These militiamen consisted of men from nearby towns (even from Connecticut) were known as “minute men” for their ability to get ready for a fight on a moment’s notice. Though the British fired first, it was they who ended up retreating. As many as 3,500 militiamen fired constantly for 18 miles, killing 250 redcoats. This was proof that the colonists could stand up to the most powerful army in the world.

When the United States Constitution was adopted on December 15, 1791, the Founding Fathers still remembered how the British were able to take over a town because the colonists could not defend themselves. They wanted to make sure that the common person would be ready to go to war in case the United States was ever under attacked. The Second Amendment was designed to ensure that if any enemy, including the government, threatened the American citizens, the citizens would be able to protect themselves.

Sources:

Battles of Lexington and Concord History Channel

Bill of Rights History Channel