Mary Hays – June 28, 1778

Experience the American dream with today’s Patriots of the Past interview. I’m your host, John Gillespie.

It’s June 28, 1778. I’m at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. The Continental Army is in a terrible fight. A cannoneer, no more than ten feet from me, has just been shot and his wife, Mary, is continuing to load and fire her husband’s cannon.

JG: “Mary, look out! A cannonball has just ripped your skirt. Get out of there!”

MH: “No, I am resolved that my husband’s blood shall not have been shed in vain. We must all fight for freedom.”

Many women, like Mary Hays, fought side by side with their husbands to free America and many died to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

In Manalapan Township, New Jersey, the Molly Hays McCauley historical marker reads, “After the Battle of Monmouth, Molly basked in the glory of having fought here. At first, there was little recognition, as Molly Hays was only one of many women who had accompanied Continental armies. However, as Revolutionary War veterans become fewer and interest in the Revolution increased, Molly became a minor celebrity. When she died in 1832, at the age of 79, the town militia turned out to bury her with military honors.

“Two years after the battle, a son, John, was born to Mary and William Hays. Little else is known of Molly’s life until 1783, when her husband was discharged from the army. The Hayses then settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. William Hays was a barber and they were modestly prosperous. In 1785, they were taxed for two houses and a cow.

“Molly outlived William Hays, and then a second husband, John McCauley. A strong, energetic woman, widowed Molly worked as a housekeeper, nurse, and janitor. In 1822, the Pennsylvania legislature granted her an annual pension of $40 for ‘her services rendered in the Revolutionary War.’ By 1830, she was living with her son.”

John and Jan Gillespie are the founders of the Rawhide Boys’ Ranch; they have fostered 351 teenagers and wrote the book Our 351 Sons; they have also assisted numerous churches in developing youth programs and expanding their total church ministries. After running for U.S. Senate, John founded 1776 American Dream, which exists to demonstrate the vision of our founding fathers and help our generation of youth passionately embrace those values.

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