Friday, June 14, 2013

The Other Molly Pitcher?

This wouldn't be much of a series if I intended to do was pick on poor Mary Hays (a.k.a. Molly Pitcher) and praise Deborah Samson.
Now's the time for the other part of the story.  You'll recall, perhaps, a few posts ago I mentioned that "Molly Pitcher" was a generic term used for camp followers who brought water to soldiers and artillery.  Many women could claim to be a Molly Pitcher.  The one best known under that title is Mary Hays, whose story I looked at in the last few posts.
There's another candidate: Margaret Corbin.  On the surface, her story appears very similar to Mary Hays.  She, too, followed her husband when he entered the military (a little earlier in the war:  1776) and he served as an artilleryman.  In the battle of Fort Washington, in Manhattan (in November 1776, a lopsided fight between a few hundred revolutionaries a few thousand Hessians) her husband died during the battle and Margaret Corbin took over his position at the cannon.

From this point on, though, the stories of the two women diverge.  For, unlike the Mary Hays of Monmouth, Margaret Corbin was wounded, taking shot to her chest, shoulder, neck, and face (accounts of her injuries vary).  The American side lost the battle and Margaret was taken prisoner by the British, who then paroled her.

There she was, a widowed, gravely injured woman in the midst of a war.  One might have thought that she had suffered the majority of her hardships in that battle.  But sadly, as was the case for many women during this period, her true challenges were just beginning.  In the next post, I'll look at her life after the battle and how she -- like Deborah -- fought just as much off the battlefield as on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment