What sort of a place was Carlisle when Principal Nisbet first arrived in it, and what had been some of its insignia before his arrival, but which had been removed? Many of the citizens were in comfortable circumstances, judged by the standards of the time. The poorer "Dutch" had not yet come into the village in any considerable numbers, and, in fact, were never very numerous. It was an important post from the first, and for more than a century nursed a sort of aristocratic air. Many of the houses were of brick and not a few of stone. The unfortunate Major Andre is said to have been incarcerated in a stone house at the corner of South Hanover street and Locust alley. But he was allowed to move about the country within a radius of six miles. Carlisle was for a number of years a sort of outpost. David Watts, a member of the first class at Dickinson, though a native of Cumberland county was born in what is now Perry. Some of Carlisle's out-of-door upholstery, but which had been removed about the time the college began to function, were a pillory, a whipping-post and stocks. Certain malefactors were flogged on the bare back. Murder, arson, burglary, and witchcraft were punished with death. When the public whippings were discontinued, about 150 persons had been punished in said way, of which seventeen were also sentenced to stand in the pillory. Six had both ears cut off and nailed up to public view. According to Hain's History of Perry County, between 1779 and 1786 eleven persons were hanged in Cumberland, of which three were for murder. When we consider that the population of the two counties is at present much larger (Cumberland has 58,578 and Perry 24,186 inhabitants) than it was in those days, and that the number of persons punished for serious crimes is much smaller, we are forced to conclude that if the people are not all like M. Coué getting better and better every day and in every way, some of them are at least getting better, and perhaps few of them are getting worse. Not very long ago it was thought of these cruel, though not unusual punishments, that
"Things like these you know must be,
An important event in the history of Carlisle took place on the 12th of July, 1774. It was a meeting of the citizens to protest against the closing of the port of Boston by order of the British government. John Montgomery, afterwards a trustee of the college, was made chairman. A long series of resolutions was passed, among which was one proffering relief to the unfortunate city when such relief would be most seasonable. At the meeting a committee was appointed, with James Wilson, also subsequently appointed a trustee of the college, as chairman, and two other men, to go to Philadelphia, to cooperate with others in taking measures for the calling of a general congress.
To Carlisle belongs the unique honor, we may confidently affirm, of having been, if not the birthplace, at least for many years the home of the only American counterpart of the French Joan of Arc. While her services to her country were far less conspicuous and have not attracted the attention of the entire civilized world, they were none the less useful within their narrow limits, while her end was neither tragic nor pitiful. The writer does not know of another woman whose deed of valor has been commemorated by two such conspicuous objects as will be noted farther along in this sketch. The presence of the Carlisle woman in the battle which has immortalized her name, was nothing out of the ordinary. The arrangements for the care of the sick and wounded in the American army were of the most primitive kind; hence the soldiers were often accompanied by their wives on their campaigns, and who were frequently called upon to act both as nurses and surgeons. The heroine of Monmouth has also been kindly remembered by the people of New Jersey. They have erected on the battle-ground a monument nearly one hundred feet high. On its base are five tablets five feet high and six feet in width, representing five scenes in the local conflict, in one of which the heroine of the pitcher is a prominent figure. Mary Ludwig-Hays-McCauley, better known as Moll Pitcher, got the sobriquet by which she has been immortalized, from the soldiers at the battle of Monmouth, who saw her at work carrying liquid refreshment for their parched throats on a hot day in June, 1778. (The mercury stood at 96 in the shade.) While she was probably never inside the college except as a scrubwoman, and performed in an adjacent state the deed that immortalized her name and gained for her, at the hands of Washington, a sergeant's commission, she verified the dictum that
"Honor and shame from no condition rise;
Although she lived long before Barbara Fritchie and is a far less mythical character, she has not been so fortunate as to have a Whittier to "sound her praise abroad" for a deed which she did not perform. Moll was much more picturesque in appearance than polite in manner or polished in speech. She may have been a "joy forever," at least as long as she lived "a thing of beauty" she was not. "Handsome is that handsome does; hold up your heads, girls." Our heroine was evidently a firm believer in the doctrine of efficiency. She wanted results. She held to the injunction that "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Quite the latest endeavor to add luster to Mrs. McCauley's name was the formation of the Mollie Pitcher Club. The vessel which it is supposed to symbolize, contains not water, as did the original, but beer. A jokesmith suggested that this organization call itself the "Rush-the-Growler Club," as being the most fitting they could select. This same club hissed the reading of a letter from President Harding, in which he refused to permit its members to hold an anti-prohibition demonstration on the White House grounds. A short time after this occurrence, a correspondent of a New York periodical was mean enough to unearth the information that our heroine was a strong temperance woman. Whatever may have been the written or printed evidence in the case, or whether any exists, the probabilities are that she was a total abstainer, whether she should be called a temperance woman or not. The writer knows the region about Carlisle for about five decades from the formation of Perry county. In these fifty years he not only never knew a woman, but never heard of one who drank anything stronger than sweet cider. However much the men might drink, the women never drank. The same conditions probably prevailed over the entire state. On the fourth of July, 1876, a monument was dedicated to this unsuspecting heroine. In 1905, and again in 1916, elaborate ceremonies were held in commemoration of her deed of mercy. This sketch may appropriately be closed with the fine and fitting words of Judge E. W. Biddle, the orator on these three occasions:
"This monument which Carlisle receives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a splendid and lasting recognition of that lofty virtue which we call courage. During the past fifty years Molly Pitcher has come to be recognized as America's most picturesque exponent of feminine valor, notwithstanding that the unique position accorded to her has been frequently and vigorously assailed. Critics have denied the whole story concerning her, have questioned the very foundations on which it rests, but up to this time their criticisms have had little effect on the popular belief. On the other hand, writers of stories and of verses have spread the narrative concerning her broadcast over the land until it has become lodged in the hearts of the people; there, probably it will be cherished as long as the interest in the American Revolution endures."
The woman to whom this tribute was paid may have been "unwept and unsung," but she has assuredly not been unhonored.
NOTE. In more than one brief biographical sketch of John G. Whittier, the writer has found him credited with a poem entitled "Moll Pitcher," but he has been unable to find a poem under this caption in his works. At any rate the Woman with the Pitcher was more fortunate with posterity than Major L'Enfant. Although he died in 1825, no monument was erected over his grave until 1911. It is to be hoped that his disembodied spirit, if it ever revisits the scenes of his thought, and labor, will find some compensation for the neglect and even hostility with which he was treated while among the living. His fate, however, was by no means exceptional.