Mary Ludwig Hays grew up in Pennsylvania and then married a barber named William Hays
When William enlisted in the Continental Army, Mary became a camp follower.
At Valley Forge she helped take care of the soldiers by doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking.
Mary's husband became an artilleryman working on a team that loaded and fired cannons.
Mary helped out by being a water carrier. Whenever the team needed water for the cannon they would shout out to her "Molly, we need another pitcher!", perhaps giving her the nickname Molly Pitcher. She carried and nursed wounded soldiers.
During the Battle of Monmouth, Mary was working as a water carrier when her husband was wounded. Mary had been watching him load the cannon for a long time and knew exactly what to do. She immediately took over for him at the cannon and fought for the rest of the day.