Children's LiteratureIn this title of the "Leaders of the American Revolution" series from Chelsea House, the author makes use of the story of Mary Ludwig Hays (1754-1832) to explore the contributions of Colonial women to the Revolution. Readers may be surprised to learn that "Molly Pitcher" was a generic name for women camp followers, who performed services like cooking, laundering, and tending wounds, and who sometimes accompanied their men onto the battlefield carrying water for swabbing cannons and for drinking. Mary Ludwig was a servant in Carlisle, a small but important town in Pennsylvania, when she married John Hays and went to war with him in the Patriot army. During the battle of Monmouth near Freehold, New Jersey, she gained a commendation for firing her husband's cannon when he was wounded. The author briefly traces the course of the war, stopping to describe exploits of several other women patriots as spies, messengers, nurses, and even soldiers for the Continental army. Mary Hays, unfortunately, had a difficult life after the war, though eventually winning recompense from the Pennsylvania government. While most of the illustrations are highly romanticized prints needing interpretation, the photographs of present-day reenactments are informative, and a straightforward text in large print makes the book accessible to middle readers as well as teens. Though seldom recognized as a person, Mary Hays or "Molly Pitcher" stands as an icon of the sacrifices and heroism of many Patriot women. A chronology, a timeline, and a short bibliography are appended. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 10 to 16.
Barbara L. Talcroft