Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Molly Maguire at Monmouth

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Monmouth, N. J.

Molly Maguire at Monmouth

By William Collins (1721–1759)

ON the bloody field of Monmouth

Flashed the guns of Greene and Wayne,

Fiercely roared the tide of battle,

Thick the sward was heaped with slain.

Foremost, facing death and danger,

Hessian, horse, and grenadier,

In the vanguard, fiercely fighting,

Stood an Irish Cannonier.

Loudly roared his iron cannon,

Mingling ever in the strife,

And beside him, firm and daring,

Stood his faithful Irish wife.

Of her bold contempt of danger

Greene and Lee’s Brigades could tell,

Every one knew “Captain Molly,”

And the army loved her well.

Surged the roar of battle round them,

Swiftly flew the iron hail,

Forward dashed a thousand bayonets,

That lone battery to assail.

From the foeman’s foremost columns

Swept a furious fusillade,

Mowing down the massed battalions

In the ranks of Greene’s Brigade.

Fast and faster worked the gunner,

Soiled with powder, blood, and dust,

English bayonets shone before him,

Shot and shell around him burst;

Still he fought with reckless daring,

Stood and manned her long and well,

Till at last the gallant fellow

Dead—beside his cannon fell.

With a bitter cry of sorrow,

And a dark and angry frown,

Looked that band of gallant patriots

At their gunner stricken down.

“Fall back, comrades, it is folly

Thus to strive against the foe.”

“No! not so,” cried Irish Molly,

“We can strike another blow.”


Quickly leaped she to the cannon,

In her fallen husband’s place,

Sponged and rammed it fast and steady,

Fired it in the foeman’s face.

Flashed another ringing volley,

Roared another from the gun;

“Boys, hurrah!” cried gallant Molly,

“For the flag of Washington.”

Greene’s Brigade, though torn and shattered,

Slain and bleeding half their men,

When they heard that Irish slogan,

Turned and charged the foe again.

Knox and Wayne and Morgan rally,

To the front they forward wheel,

And before their rushing onset

Clinton’s English columns reel.

Still the cannon’s voice in anger

Rolled and rattled o’er the plain,

Till there lay in swarms around it

Mangled heaps of Hessian slain.

“Forward! charge them with the bayonet!”

’T was the voice of Washington,

And there burst a fiery greeting

From the Irish woman’s gun.

Monckton falls; against his columns

Leap the troops of Mayne and Lee,

And before their reeking bayonets

Clinton’s red battalions flee.

Morgan’s rifles, fiercely flashing,

Thin the foe’s retreating ranks,

And behind them onward dashing

Ogden hovers on their flanks.

Fast they fly, these boasting Britons,

Who in all their glory came,

With their brutal Hessian hirelings

To wipe out our country’s name.

Proudly floats the starry banner,

Monmouth’s glorious field is won,

And in triumph Irish Molly

Stands beside her smoking gun.