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The township of Manalapan, New Jersey is in Monmouth County. The name Manalapan is an Anglicization of a Lenapi language word, the meaning of which is "good lang to settle upon." On June 28, 1778, the Battle of Monmouth was fought on land which is today part of Manalapan. General George Washington's Continental Army troops attacked the rear of a British Army column as they left the Monmouth Courthouse. It was 100° that day, and camp follower Mary Hays, the wife of an American soldier named John Hays, brought water to the soldiers. It is believed she became known as the legendary Molly Pitcher after her husband collapsed, probably from the heat and exhaustion, and she took his place. Throughout the battle, Mary used her husband's ramrod to "swab and load" the canon which he had manned. According to the famous and dependable memoirs of Private Joseph Plumb Martin of the Continental Army, "While in the act of reaching a cartridge and having one of her feet as far before the other as she could step, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs...carrying away all the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else, and continued her occupation." When it got dark, the battle stopped, which was customary at that time. It was fully expected that the battle would continue in the morning, but the British retreated in the night and regrouped in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. After the battle, Washington asked about the woman he had seen loading a cannon on the battlefield during the battle. Astonished by her courage, he issued Mary Hays a warrant, making her a non-commissioned officer. For the rest of her life, she was known as "Sergeant Molly," a nickname she used for the rest of her life. Part of Monmouth Battlefield State Park, which commemorates the battle is situated in Manalapan.

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