Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Meeting Notes: July 15, 2009

"Camp Followers of the Continental Army," Holly Mayer

Bruce Venter introduced our speaker, Dr. Holly Mayer, Chair of the History Department, Duquesne University, Pittsburg, whose subject was the women camp followers of the Revolution.

Dr. Mayer pointed out quickly that the name”campfollowers” did not have the same meaning as today. These often followed their soldier husbands and preformed valued services for the troops. They served as laundresses, cooks and nurses. They were required to carry their on their backs. Quite often these women were refuges as the area they lived had been taken over by British troops or partisans. The women lived in the same quarters as the men. Often when a husband was killed, a woman would live with another man to keep standing in the regiment, creating common law marriages until an official marriage could be preformed. Some of these women were paid for their services as housekeepers and sutlers. They crossed all social lines and ethic groups.
A good example of women working with the men was in the Canadian Regiment of the American Army.

Many women were use as spies for both armies.

After the war many of these camp followers were eligible for pensions.

Dr Mayer also stated that while there were prostitutes with both armies, it was more to the financial advantage to stay on the British side.