in The Brigade Dispatch, vol. XXVIII, no. 1 (Spring 1998), 2-10;
vol. XXVIII, no. 2 (Summer 1998), 2-12, 13.)
Sociological and historical studies of past populations have become more commonplace over the last thirty years and deservedly so. Studies of a community, especially the behavior of its members and their interaction, can clarify the stimulus for certain occurrences or, at the very least, help to bring the past to life and render it on a more personal level. Usually incorporated into such studies is some type of statistical analysis that may serve as a tool with which to determine the relative impact of certain minorities on a given population. In her study entitled Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution, Holly A. Mayer indicates the true nature of the Continental Army during that eight-year war. It was, in fact, a real community, and a rather complex community, at that. Part of this complexity was due to the dual mission of the army. While certain units remained in static situations at fixed posts, the effectiveness of the "moving Army" was tied to its ability to become highly mobile when the situation demanded. Even in a stationary situation, such as a fort or fixed camp, the administration of the army was often difficult; taking this organization on the road, as it were, strained the supply situation and engendered new discipline problems with among the soldiers.1
Women were thrust or chose to place themselves in the midst of such circumstances. During the first year of the war the fledgling Continental Army could truly have been considered a "band of brothers," with female camp followers a rarity. Beginning in 1776, and increasingly as the conflict progressed, the presence of women with the army became common, and their treatment mirrored accepted European military practice. While providing useful services to the army, female followers also created difficulties, not the least of which was an increased strain on the supply system.
The effect female followers had on the soldiers they encountered should be considered. Their influence can be set against the circumstances of army life. One good description of conditions was left to us by Dr. Jabez Campfield: "How hard is the soldier's lott who's least danger is in the field of action. Fighting happens seldom, but fatigue, hunger, cold & heat are constantly varying his distress."2 Given these living conditions the mere presence of women would (depending on the circumstances) have been a great boon, even if only psychological, in easing the day-to-day existence of the troops. Besides providing some reminder of, or connection to, the domestic side of life, female followers also performed services which contributed to the more mundane aspects of daily living. The most common tasks allotted to these women were washing, nursing and, occasionally, cooking for the troops. These were not glamorous tasks but then neither were the daily chores of the common soldier who wielded a shovel, an axe or a cooking ladle more often than he fired a musket.
A previous article provided an in-depth look at the numbers of women with Washington's army from 1776 to 1783. (See "The multitude of women': An Examination of the Numbers of Female Camp Followers with the Continental Army", The Brigade Dispatch.)3 With the information then available, some broad conclusions were arrived at concerning the presence and role of women on active campaigns, and during more sedentary periods. In examining nine returns, or series of returns, which enumerated the women present with various American organizations, it was ascertained that on average adult female camp followers amounted to about three percent of the strength of the unit to which they were attached. This roughly translates to one woman for every thirty men.4
Several recently discovered returns of women offer new insights concerning the numbers of female followers. It is important to note that these new documents deal with the enumeration of ration issues. In fact, there were only a few reasons which compelled commanders to deal with camp women, viz., the allotment of food and shelter to the followers, ensuring that they did not fall foul of army rules or interfere with the mobility of the troops, and finding women to serve as nurses in hospitals. Probably the most pressing administrative consideration was to account for the provisions which it was necessary to issue to the women and children accompanying the troops; this is reflected by the fact that the greatest number of documents providing a count of camp followers had some association to their consumption of rations.5
Such administrative concern was well established before the War for Independence, as one document from the Seven Years' War in America (1754-1763) will attest. After capturing Quebec on 13 September 1759, British troops occupied the city and went into winter quarters at the end of the month. In November Captain John Knox of the 43rd Regiment made the following note:
The officers have hitherto received rum from the stores, in proportion to their rank; as have likewise the women who were on the victualling roll, but, by an order of early November, they are all struck off; the women are, for the future, to be victualled at two thirds' allowance only; for this purpose they are to be mustered to-morrow by the town-major: such as from sickness cannot appear are to be certified for by their commanding officers. Provisions are issued to the women upon a presumption that they are to be useful to the soldiers, either by attending hospitals or by washing for them and the officers; but hereafter those who suttle are not to be enrolled, nor will any be issued to those who do not reside in the men's quarters.6
Sixteen years later various records kept during the American War for Independence show that the same attitudes and procedures held true: female camp followers were commonly thought of in terms of the rations they consumed and generally tolerated only when they made some contribution to the welfare of the army.
When women were present their primary duties were washing and nursing. In November 1775 Benjamin Church wrote of the American army around Boston, "They have no women in the camp to do washing for the men, and they in general not being used to doing things of this sort ... choose rather to let their linen, etc., rot upon their backs than be at the trouble of cleaning 'em themselves." During Sullivan's Expedition in 1779, the orders given to Colonel Shreve at Tioga regarding women mention what were considered to be their special tasks. "It will ... be absolutely necessary to send most of the Women and Children to Wyoming, returning only such as may be applied to the use of the Hospital, or may be deem'd necessary to keep the Soldier's clean at their Return."7
Two regimental directives confirm the officers' determination that only those women who complied with orders and performed their proper duties were to be tolerated. After prices for washing were set in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment in autumn of 1778, the unit commander issued the order that, "Should any woman refuse to wash for a soldier at the above rate he must make complaint to the officers commanding the company to which he belongs ... who [if he] finds it proceeds from laziness or any other improper excuse he is to immediately to dismiss her from the regiment ... but if she attempts to remain afterwards he must have her drummed out of the regiment as the Colonel is determined no women shall draw rations from the continent in his regiment unless they make use of their endeavours to keep the men clean." This was echoed four years later in August 1782. After a board of officers in the 10th Massachusetts Regiment met to "affix the preces of washing," the rates they set were confirmed by the colonel, who went on to order "that any Woman who shall refuse to conform thereto shall be prohibited from drawing provision with the regiment." The meaning was clear: although not on the army payroll, these followers could sometimes expect to be paid for their services. On the other hand, while their presence with the troops was accepted, that acceptance depended upon their willingness to live within the strictures set by the officers.8
Before continuing on to examine and analyze the numbers of female followers, a more basic question should be addressed. What kind of women were these who chose, or were forced by circumstance, to follow the army under very trying conditions? There are few first-hand descriptions of American camp followers available, but with what little we do have it seems that they were a mixed lot indeed. Maria Cronkite was the wife of a musician in the 1st New York Regiment and seems to have been quite well respected. She was thirty-two years old when she followed her husband into the army in 1777. Mrs. Cronkite served "in the capacity of washerwoman for the officers untill the close of the war where her husband was duly discharged ... [and] had while in said service several children..." As might be expected in an army where black soldiers were a substantial minority, camp followers also included a few women of color. In an October 1778 runaway advertisement, the colonel of the 3rd Maryland Regiment described a "MULATTO slave, named Sarah, but since calls herself Rachael; she took her son with her, a Mulatto boy named Bob, about six years old, has a remarkable fair complexion, with flaxen hair: She is a lusty wench, about 34 years old, big with child; had on a striped linsey petticoat, linen jacket, flat shoes, a large white cloth cloak, and a blanket, but may change her dress, as she has other cloaths with her. She was lately apprehended in the first Maryland regiment, where she pretends to have a husband, with whom she has been the principal part of this campaign, and passed herself off as a free woman." (In a "Return of the Negroes in the Army," 24 August 1778, the 1st Maryland Brigade contained sixty black soldiers and the 2nd Maryland listed thirty-five.)9
18 October 1778: "RUN-AWAY ... a likely MULATTO slave, named Sarah,
but since calls herself Rachael; she took her son with her,
a Mulatto boy named Bob, about six years old ...
She was lately apprehended in the first Maryland regiment, where she pretends to have a husband,
with whom she has been the principal part of this campaign, and passed herself off as a free woman."
Runaway advertisement, The Brigade Dispatch, vol. X, no. 4 (Sept./Oct. 1974), 15.
Illustration by Peter F. Copeland, courtesy of the artist.
An unflattering view of the army's followers, this time on the move in 1780, comes from Joseph Plumb Martin. Although women are not specifically mentioned in his account their presence is inferred. After being separated from his unit Martin "had an opportunity to see the baggage of the army pass. When that of the middle states passed us, it was truly amusing to see the number and habiliments of those attending it; of all specimens of human beings, this group capped the whole. A caravan of wild beasts could bear no comparison with it. There was 'Tag, Rag and Bobtail'; 'some in rags and some in jags,' but none 'in velvet gowns.' [author's emphasis] Some with two eyes, some with one, and some, I believe, with none at all ... their dialect, too, was as confused as their bodily appearance was odd and disgusting. There was the Irish and Scotch brogue, murdered English, flat insipid Dutch and some lingoes which would puzzle a philosopher ... I was glad to see the tail end of the train ..."10
Continental Army general orders, 13 September 1777, reiterated the directive that "No woman under any pretence whatsoever to go with the army, but to follow the baggage." Female followers and their dependants were not allowed to ride in wagons, having to march alongside or behind them. Numbers of women disregarded this order throughout the war and by June 1781 the commander in chief admitted that some women would have to be permitted "to ride in waggons [or] walk in the ranks" with the troops while on the march.
"Following the Army" by Pamela Patrick. Used with permission.
©2000 Pamela Patrick, this is NOT free artwork. Visit Pam's website.
The reference to "velvet gowns," and the fact that the followers' allotted place on the march was with the baggage train, both indicate that Martin's colorful description includes women under its umbrella. Although the narrator's sectional proclivity shines through, there is probably more than a grain of truth in his observations. The "middle states" would have been New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and, possibly, Maryland. The reference to the "Irish and Scotch" brogues may have been directed towards Pennsylvania, while "insipid Dutch" would do for either New Jersey or New York. Despite his embroidery of the scene, and his Yankee attitude towards "southerners," the sight of the army's baggage passing by, attendants and all, must have been one not soon forgotten.
Sarah Osborn, Anna Maria Lane, Margaret Corbin, Maria Cronkite, Rachael (or Sarah) the "mulatto slave;" these are just some of the follower's names that have come down to us, some whose life circumstances are known, most of whom will merely remain entries on a document. From respected wives to women on the margins of society, from free white women to enslaved women of color, they all found a place, at one time or another, with the regiments of the Continental Army.11
Female Followers with the Troops at Wyoming:
Prelude to Sullivan's Campaign, 1779
To counter the depredations of the Loyalists and their allies, and in anticipation of a punitive expedition led by General John Sullivan against the Iroquois villages, detachments of Continental troops were garrisoned at several places on the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania frontier during the winter and spring of 1779. The fort and village at Wyoming, Pennsylvania, was to be a staging area for Sullivan's army and Continental troops were sent there in early April to reinforce the Independent Wyoming Valley company commanded by Captain Simon Spalding.12
Locale of the Wyoming camp showing troop dispositions, fort, and outlying redoubts circa 1779. From left to right the encamped units are: unclear (possibly General Maxwell's brigade), probably "P A" for Proctor's Artillery, likely part of General Hand's brigade, "part of Genl. Hand Brigd.," 1st New Jersey Regiment, Hubley's 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, and possibly General Poor's brigade. Adam Hubley's "Scetch of the Encampment at Wyoming," 1779, "Adm. Hubley, Jr., Lt. Colo. Comdt. 11th Penna Regt., His Journal, Commencing at Wyoming, July 30th, 1779," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 33 (1909), between 132 and 133.
Three units moved down from Minisink, New York, to Wyoming: the German Regiment, Armand's Legion, and Schott's Independent Company. Accompanying the first two units were a number of women and probably some children. One of these units, the German Regiment, had served along the Hudson River at Fishkill and Newburgh, New York, during the autumn of 1778, taking part in duties ranging from road repair to providing an escort for General John Burgoyne's Convention Troops. It then travelled to Easton, Pennsylvania, in time to celebrate the New Year, moving from there to Minisink some time in February with its attendant followers. The other unit containing women, Armand's Legion (a legion being a mixed command comprised of both cavalry and infantry), had moved to Minisink in late November 1778. It was not long after their arrival at the new post when it was noted that the officer commanding Pulaski's Legion had "retired to Easton with the Horse of Count Pulaski's and Colo. Armands Corps, not being able to procure Forage at Minisink or in that neighbourhood." At least some, perhaps all, of the women of Armand's Legion remained behind with the infantry contingent at Minisink; as previously noted the foot soldiers under Colonel Armand marched to Wyoming in early April of the following year, again accompanied by their female followers.13
Previous to their arrival the commanders of these units had been informed they would "find Barracks at Wyoming ready for the greatest part of them." Colonel Zebulon Butler, the post commander, having been told of the pending reinforcements, was also directed to "take the necessary precautions for their barracks, and give proper notice to the commissaries to increase or proportion their supply to your numbers." It was relative to these increased provisions that the following return was made.14
"Returns of the daily Issues of Provisions to the Troops
at the Post of Wyoming, from May 9th. to the [27th]" 177915
10th Col. Armand's 3 77 6 249 12 Capt. Spalding's 3 43 7 150 12 Artificer's 3 14 163 11 Capt. Schott's 3 41 123 12 German 3 207 13 960 13 Col. Armand's 1 77 6 83 14 Capt. Schott's 3 41 123 Col. Armand's 3 77 6 249 15 German 3 302 12 942 Artificers 3 14 63 Capt. Spalding's 4 62 8 280 17 Col. Armand's 3 81 * 243 17 German 3 304 12 948 17 Artificers 3 14 63 17 Capt. Schott's 3 41 123 19 Capt. Spalding's 2 65 8 146 20th Capt. Schott's 3 44 132 Col. Armand's 3 93 * 279 21st Capt. Spalding's 2 84 9 186 Artificers 3 14 63 German 3 308 14 966 23rd Capt. Schott's 3 48 144 24 Col. Armand's 3 94 * 282 Capt. Spalding's 2 84 9 186 24th Artificers 3 14 63 German 3 273 14 861 25 Capt. Spalding's 4 81 9 360 26 Col. Armand's 3 95 * 285 Capt. Schott's 3 47 141 27 German 3 317 12 987 Artificers 3 14 63
* Denotes that this unit previously contained women.
The above return shows that women were allowed the same ration as common soldiers (i.e., one full ration per day) and that the food issued during this period was typical for the war. From the 10th to the 20th of May rations consisted of one pound of flour, and either one pound of pork or one and one quarter pounds of fish. Beginning on 21 May, pork disappeared from the ration and the issue of fish decreased, eventually to be replaced entirely by one and one quarter pounds of beef.16
Interestingly, although numbers of females with the German Regiment and Spalding's Independent Company fluctuated only slightly (from highs of fourteen and nine, to lows of twelve and seven, respectively) all six women with Armand's Foot company disappeared from the rolls after 14 May. As the mounted contingent of Armand's Legion were posted elsewhere, it is feasible that the followers were sent to join them, perhaps in order to ease the supply situation. (A January 1779 return shows that Armand's mounted troops numbered only six officers and staff, eight N.C.O.'s, and nineteen rank and file. After 4 January they may have been located at or near Easton, Pennsylvania.)17
The background of those units accompanied by women has some bearing on the reason why these females attached themselves to the army. Spalding's Independent Company was a special case as regards the number of followers. This company was formed from Durkee's and Ransom's Independent Companies, both originally raised in 1776 and comprised of settlers with ties to the state of Connecticut. (The presence of these "Yankees" in the area was the result of a pre-war dispute of the territory between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, for which, see endnote.) These two units had been assigned to the Main Army in 1777 and had seen a considerable amount of service. On 23 June 1778 the Board of War reported, "That the two independent companies raised in the town of Westmoreland [comprising a large area of northeastern Pennsylvania, including Wyoming] lately commanded by the Captains Durkee and Ransom, are reduced by various causes to about eighty-six non-commissioned officers and privates ... that the said companies are now detached from the main army for the defence of the frontiers." Upon receipt of this information, Congress resolved "That the two independent companies ... be united and form one company [and] ... That Lieutenant Simon Spaulding be appointed captain ..." Until April 1779 Spalding's Company was the sole defense for the area around Wyoming, and, as late as the 28th of March, "a Body of the enemy, consisting of Indians and others, had made their appearance at Wyoming, and had destroyed several Houses and Barns in the neighbourhood ..." It is not suprising that a number of the men's dependents would opt to take shelter with the company in the fort at Wyoming.18
As a military organization Armand's Legion was a bit of an oddity by Continental Army standards. Besides the fact that it contained both horse and foot soldiers, "Foreign officers were allowed as were German deserters in the ranks ..." The exact origin of all the men is not known. In July 1778 Washington ordered "Armand's Regiment to be sent to Fort Arnold as the most proper place of security, they being chiefly deserters." Six months later the unit's commander wrote the commander in chief that "i wish to recrute again; and i think i could have [a] good many of french men and somme Americains which if not pleased amongs[t] foreigners, could be exchanged for the french soldears in several regiments of your army. in respect to the germains, if you would allow me to recrute with such men only what could be necessary to complete my germains company, i do believe that being amongs[t] the others [al]ready ordered and acquainted with our customs they would be [a] great deal better than when my corps was entirely of recrutes." A high proportion of Germans is emphasized by a captive officer who "observed Armand's Legion passing by his barracks in 1780 and noted that all four hundred of these men were former Hessians." It is reasonable to assume that at least a few women had accompanied them when the men deserted and joined the Legion. (If these women had formerly been with Hessian regiments, this could account for the small number of female followers with the unit.) The other regiment with a unique makeup was the German Regiment, which was comprised of men of that nationality from the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. In this regiment, like Armand's Legion, "German was undoubtedly spoken in the ranks ..."19
The German Regiment, Spalding's Independent Company, and at least part of Schott's Company (denoted the Independent Rifle Company under the command of Lieutenant Anthony Selin) marched with General John Sullivan into Indian country during the summer and early autumn of 1779. All or part of the women listed on the May return must have made the march with Sullivan's troops as far as Tioga. At that place a fortification was built and some followers were left to serve as nurses and wash for the troops when they returned; the rest of the women and children were sent back to Wyoming. Upon the return of Sullivan's army all three units were ordered to remain at Wyoming and form the garrison there.20
The women enumerated in the Wyoming return would continue to accompany their chosen units, some possibly until the end of the war. The German Regiment went on to serve at various posts on the frontier until the summer of 1780, when it rejoined the main army in New York. The unit was disbanded in the winter of 1780-81 and the men distributed among the Maryland and Pennsylvania regiments. In June the detachment of Armand's Legion at Wyoming was ordered to New Jersey "to join the remainder of the Corps with this [i.e., the main] Army." After the death of Count Casimir Pulaski at Savannah, Georgia, as of October 1779 Colonel Armand (formally known as Charles Armand-Tuffin, Marquis de La Rouerie) was appointed commander of the Pulaski Legion. With his command of one hundred and twenty men (sixty horse and sixty foot) he joined the southern army in July 1780, where they were merged with the few survivors of Pulaski's Legion and participated in the disastrous Battle of Camden. About forty survivors of the corps joined Lafayette in May 1781, and fought at the Battle of Green Spring in July, and at Yorktown in October. Four months after the capture of the British force at Yorktown, the Legion was sent to join Nathanael Greene's army in South Carolina. It was recalled to the Main Army in September 1782. Spalding's Independent Company remained at Wyoming until January 1781. There are several differing accounts concerning the ultimate fate of the enlisted men of the company; one second-hand source states that the unit was "broken up and its men assigned to the 1st Connecticut Regiment" while another merely relates that it was disbanded in 1781. Captain Simon Spalding was transferred to the 1st Connecticut on the above-noted date; it is probable that his men and some of their dependents followed him into that regiment.21
"Provisions and Stores Issued to the Grand Army"
Female Followers at Middlebrook, 1779
During the winter of 1778-79, a large part of the Continental Army wintered over at Middlebrook, New Jersey. The first soldiers reached the site shortly after 1 December 1778 and immediately began constructing shelters, the last of which were not completed until about the middle of January 1779. Initially the army had to live in tents while working on the huts and "suffered extremely from exposure to cold and storms." Despite this rough beginning the troops found the winter to be "remarkably mild and temperate," and living conditions improved after the huts were completed. As at Valley Forge in the previous winter, many of the women with the regiments must have remained with their units throughout the cantonment. This is supported by the return discussed below.22
Area of the Middlebrook winter camp, 1778-79.
Peter Angelakos, "The Army at Middlebrook 1778-1779",
Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol. 70 (April 1952), between 132 and 133.
Towards the end of the Middlebrook camp consideration was given towards the opening of the summer's campaign. Among other matters some concern over the army’s provisioning resulted in the following request from the commander in chief, General George Washington:
As the daily issues of Provisions exceed, considerably, the total number of the Troops in this Camp, I wish to know on what days, in what manner, and by whose Orders the Provisions are drawn ... You will be pleased to add the number of rations issued to the women in camp.23
A series of five returns for the period of one month, 21 April to 28 May 1779, shows the number of women with eight brigades of the main army under Washington at Middlebrook.24
1st Pennsylvania Brigade
1st, 2nd, 7th and 10th Pennsylvania Regiments
21-28 April 1-7 May 8-14 May* 15-21 May 22-28 May 1,252 men 1,235 men 1,300 men 1,300 men 1,393 men 105 women 106 women 113 women 113 women (no women (1 woman to
(1 to 12) (1 to 11 ) (1 to 11 ) returned) * 8.2 percent
2nd Pennsylvania Brigade
3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th Pennsylvania Regiments
21-28 April 1-7 May* 8-14 May 15-21 May 22-28 May 1,053 men 1,409 men 1,061 men 848 men 1,143 men 106 women 106 women 107 women 104 women 99 women (1 woman to
(1 to 13) (1 to 10) (1 to 8) (1 to 11) * 10.1 percent
1st Maryland Brigade
1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th Maryland Regiments
21-28 April 1-7 May 8-14 May* 15-21 May 22-28 May (no return 1,264 men 1,291 men 1,292 men 1,244 men given) 75 women 82 women 80 women 81 women (1 woman to
(1 to 16) (1 to 16 ) (1 to 15) * 6.3 percent
2nd Maryland Brigade
2nd, 4th and 6th Maryland Regiments
(As of the 22-28 May return the Delaware Regiment was added to this brigade.)
21-28 April 1-7 May 8-14 May 15-21 May* 22-28 May 1,088 men 1,088 men 1,074 men 1,212 men 1,691 men 67 women 69 women 71 women 72 women 89 women (1 woman to
(1 to 16) (1 to 15) (1 to 17) (1 to 19) * 5.3 percent
1st and 10th Virginia Regiments, 1st and 2nd Virginia State Battalions
(As of the 22-28 May return Gist's Regiment (formerly Grayson's Additional) and the
6th Virginia Regiment were added to the brigade, and the 1st and 10th consolidated.)
21-28 April 1-7 May 8-14 May 15-21 May* 22-28 May 996 men 997 men 1,026 men 1,256 men 1,531 men 45 women 43 women 42 women 65 women 77 women (1 woman to
(1 to 22) (1 to 24) (1 to 19) (1 to 20) * 5.0 percent
2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 11th Virginia Regiments
(As of the 22-28 May return this brigade consisted of the
3rd & 4th, 5th & 11th, 7th and 8th Virginia Regiments)
21-28 April 1-7 May 8-14 May 15-21 May* 22-28 May 892 men 923 men 936 men 1,112 men 1,471 men 52 women 55 women 55 women 77 women 103 women (1 woman to
(1 to 17) (1 to 17 ) (1 to 14 ) (1 to 14 ) * 7.0 percent of
4th, 6th and 8th Virginia Regiments,
Delaware Regiment and Grayson's Additional Regiment
(As of the 22-28 May return Scott's Brigade had been dissolved and the
regiments transferred to Muhlenberg's, Woodford's and 2nd Maryland brigades.)
21-28 April 1-7 May* 8-14 May 15-21 May 22-28 May 1,084 men 1,210 men 1,198 men 1,079 men (no return 86 women 87 women 93 women 81 women given) (1 woman to
(1 to 14) (1 to 13) (1 to 13) * 7.2 percent
Four companies, 3rd Continental Artillery
Seven companies, 2nd Continental Artillery
Eleven companies, 1st Continental Artillery
21-28 April 1-7 May* 8-14 May 15-21 May 22-28 May (no return 994 men 878 men 798 men 967 men given) 70 women 67 women 67 women 73 women (1 woman to
(1 to 13) (1 to 12) (1 to 13) * 7.1 percent
Ratios and Percentages for Combined Strength of All Brigades
21-28 April 1-7 May* 8-14 May 15-21 May* 22-28 May 6,365 men 9,120 men 8,764 men 8,897 men 8,047 men 461 women 611 women 630 women 659 women 522 women (1 woman to
(1 to 15) (1 to 14) (1 to 13) (1 to 15) * 6.7 percent of
* 7.4 percent of
* All ratios rounded up if .51 or higher; if .50 or less the figures have been rounded down.
Due to space constrictions, and the need for some simplification, the following subjective criteria were instituted in determining the percentage of women in comparison to the overall strength of each brigade. This calculation has been made only for those returns giving the highest number of troops; if two returns are close in numbers the one showing the greater number of women has been used. The reasoning behind this is the supposition that the higher numbers give a more accurate impression of the true troop strength, some soldiers being absent on command, guard duty or for other reasons.
At the end of May the army at Middlebrook made ready to leave camp. On 3 June the commander in chief informed General William Alexander, Lord Stirling that, "The enemy have landed at Kings-ferry, are in such force, and seem to have such capitol objects in view, that I must move my whole strength towards the No[rth]. [i.e., Hudson] River ..."25
General Arthur St. Clair's Pennsylvania troops were the first to set out, on 29 May, followed by Stirling's Virginia Division on the 2nd of June and Baron DeKalb's Maryland Division the day after that. Writing on 3 June from the Park of Artillery at Pluckemin, Commissary Samuel Hodgdon related. "We are all upon the move the Park marches tommorrow the rout I understand to be towards North River where it is conjectured the Enemy mean to open the Campaign, and it is with heart felt satisfaction that I now can inform you our Army are well accoutred and in high Spirits."26
Having survived yet another winter with the army, and probably with the addition of some new women, female followers accompanied the troops as they headed north in early summer 1779. This movement of the army, and the documents we have concerning the numbers of women known to have been present with the troops, take on more meaning when set against information pertaining to the place of women on the march. As in all such operations the assigned place of those women marching with the army was with the baggage train. Relative to that matter this movement saw the issuance of yet another general order decrying "the pernicious practice of suffering the women to incumber the Waggons [which] still continues notwithstanding every former prohibition." All told, during the eight-year conflict, there were eight army-wide orders directing women to march with the baggage or prohibiting them from riding on the wagons; three in 1777, two in 1778, and one each in 1779 and 1780.27 The final order referring to the practice relented somewhat. General orders, 19 June 1781:
No Women will be suffered to ride in waggons or walk in the ranks this Campaign unless there are very particular reasons for it ... a written permission only will avail; without this the officers of the day or police are not only authorized to turn them out, but requested to inflict instant punishment ...28
The movement by Washington's main army into New York in 1779 had no immediate result other than to cover the river fortifications and discourage the British from making any further moves. A month after the army left Middlebrook one soldier wrote: "No particular news in Camp, daily expectation of the enemies advances to the Fort at West Point but at present they are quite still." Except for the successful coup at Stony Point on 16 July by Anthony Wayne's Light Infantry and the capture of an enemy fort at Paulus Hook, New Jersey, in August, Washington's army (and its followers) spent the remainder of the campaigning season in relative quiet around the city of New York.29
Although it is known that certain Continental regiments contained more women than others, while some had very few or none at all, it is interesting and of some use to try to determine the average number of followers per regiment in each brigade at Middlebrook. One purpose for this exercise would be to ascertain just how many women may optimally have been in each company, given the unlikely circumstance that all the followers were divided evenly among the regiments in each brigade. This gives us an idea of the frequency of interaction between women and men at the company level and the possible effect women had on these units. This approximation can be obtained by a study of army organization and some simple computation. One caveat has first to be given. When accounting for the average number of women per regiment, the three Virginia brigades pose a problem. By the end of May 1779, due to the consolidation of several regiments from the state, Scott's Brigade had been dissolved and its units dispersed among the other two brigades. It was in mid-May that eight under strength units were merged to form four full regiments; at this same time the Delaware Regiment was transferred to the 2nd Maryland Brigade. Unfortunately, as regards the Virginia troops, this serves to make their actual brigade composition for the latter half of the month somewhat vague. In examining the returns it can be seen that brigade strength fluctuated during May, hence it is possible that some units were attached to their new brigades immediately while others did not join until the end of the month. It is certain that for the first return in April the original brigade composition was still in effect and that by the 22-28 May return the reorganization had taken place. Because of this there are two figures given for the Virginia Brigades, one for the initial April return and one for the final one in May. For the other brigades the numbers of women are taken from those returns utilized to determine the unit percentages.30 (See Middlebrook returns for those marked with an asterisk.)
Estimates of Average Numbers of Followers for Sub-Units
1st Pennsylvania Brigade Four regiments 28 women per regiment 3 women per company * 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade Four regiments 27 women per regiment 3 women per company 1st Maryland Brigade Four regiments 21 women per regiment 2 women per company 2nd Maryland Brigade Four regiments 22 women per regiment 2 women per company Muhlenberg's Brigade 21-28 April Four regiments 11 women per regiment (eight companies) 1 woman per company 22-28 May Five regiments 15 women per regiment 1 woman per company Woodford's Brigade 21-28 April Five regiments 10 women per regiment (eight companies) 1 woman per company 22-28 May Four regiments 26 women per regiment 3 women per company Scott's Brigade 21-28 April Five regiments 17 women per regiment (eight companies) 2 women per company Knox's Artillery Twenty-two companies 3 women per company
* Unless otherwise noted it is assumed that there were nine companies per regiment. According to the 1779 table of organization a company contained sixty-one sergeants, corporals, musicians, and privates.31
Another element which adds to the interest of the Middlebrook returns is the lack of information for some state's troops. Until now there were no known records of camp followers for any Pennsylvania infantry units or the Delaware Regiment. Only one return for the 1st Virginia Regiment at Winchester Barracks has been found, along with a single return for a Maryland detachment of two hundred and fifty-one men in New York state, both in 1783. (Admittedly the figure given for the Delaware Regiment was obtained by default and at best approximates the actual number of women, but it is more than was known before.)32
Previously known returns contained information on the numbers of followers with units from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as smaller contingents of troops such as the Corps of Sappers and Miners, the Commander in Chief's Guard, and the Artillery Regiments. In these returns there can be seen proportions of women similar to those found in the 1779 ration return, most notably for the Commander in Chief's Guard in 1781 and the Maryland Detachment and New York Regiments in 1783.33
It is feasible that, contrary to the overall trend, the numbers of women decreased in a few regiments during the later war years. Most particularly this could have been true for the Pennsylvanians who, three months after their January 1781 mutiny, marched to Virginia under General Anthony Wayne. One man stated that the Pennsylvania mutineers at Princeton, New Jersey, in January had "about 100" women with them. It is not known if this was the full complement of followers with those regiments, or whether some women had remained behind at their camp near Morristown. If this was the total number of women, their numbers had been greatly reduced since 1779. (In the 8 to 14 May 1779 return at Middlebrook the two Pennsylvania brigades had 2,361 men and 220 women, for a ratio of one woman for eleven men. By contrast, the November 1780 return for the two brigades shows 2,794 non-commissioned officers, rank and file, in ten regiments. Allowing one hundred women with these units, the ratio had increased to one woman for thirty men.) After the successful culmination of the Siege of Yorktown the Pennsylvanians, with some female followers, were sent further on to South Carolina where they remained until some time in 1783. These movements, which took them progressively further from their home state, could easily have resulted in fewer women being able, or choosing, to accompany the Pennsylvania soldiers.34
“The women belonging to their respective corps"
Further Analysis and Comparison of the Returns of Women
Although some interesting correlations can be seen between the Wyoming and Middlebrook returns, it must be noted that both sets of returns were made under disparate circumstances, and for differing numbers of troops during the same period of time, thus making any similarities and differences significant. To continue our analysis, the proportions of women in the units listed on both sets of returns need to be contrasted. The statistics for the women at Wyoming with the two largest Continental units agree with the figure of three percent of unit strength previously set forth as the average for the war. This claim is at least partially tied to the supposition that the followers listed on the return for Armand's Corps represent the total number of women with that unit; even discounting this assumption it is notable that the other unit, the German Regiment, should mirror the three-percent average while all of the units on the return for the main army during the same period show a much higher percentage of followers. Among the explanations for this could be that the German Regiment just may have been one of those units with fewer camp followers. On the other hand some women may have remained behind at other posts, or left the regiment entirely, during the movements before the unit's arrival at Wyoming. This last point is especially compelling when the difficult traveling and living conditions on the frontier are considered.
Statistics Concerning Women at Wyoming in 1779
12 women and 317 men on 27 May
1 woman for 26 men (3.5 percent of unit strength)
6 women and 77 men (120 men) *
1 woman for 13 men (1 woman for 20 men)
(3.8 percent of total unit strength)
9 women and 84 men
1 woman for 9 men
* The total strength of Armand's Corps, including the detached cavalry, may have amounted to 120 men in May 1779.35
In the Middlebrook returns the percentage of women in individual brigades ranged from a high of 10.1 percent in the 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade for the period 8 to 14 May to a low of 5 percent in Muhlenberg's Virginia Brigade from 22 to 28 May 1779. Compared to previously known returns, which indicated an average of closer to three percent of unit strength (or one woman for every thirty men), even the percentage of women in Muhlenberg's Brigade was markedly greater. Averaged for the entire war the figure of three percent may still be true. In support of this contention it must be considered that in 1775 there were very few women present with the army. The following year saw an increase in the numbers of female followers, but it was not until 1777 that relatively large numbers of women attached themselves to the army. It is possible that during the years from 1777 to 1780, a period for which unit returns of women are sorely lacking, there were overall larger numbers of females than during the other five years of the war. A summer 1778 allotment of female followers points to this: 25 July, "Head Quarters, White Plains ... The Brigade Majors are reminded to bring on the Super-numeraries (i.e., those in excess of the necessary number), one to every twelve men." Thus, for the four years in question (1777-1780) the numbers and proportion of women seen in the 1779 return may have been the norm.36
As it concerns a large portion of the "moving Army" during a period for which we hitherto have had no data the Middlebrook returns can lay some claim to being the more important of these newly found documents. Prior to this only three returns for a comparably sized portion of the Continental Army were available to give us an overall view of numbers of women. The December 1777 return was made just as the army went into winter quarters at Valley Forge and shows 400 women for a force of 17,757 non-commissioned officers and rank and file (much larger than the Middlebrook troop strength). Unfortunately, the number shown on this return is either an estimate of followers or a rounding-off of the actual number. A June 1781 return lists 137 women for a force of 4,410 N.C.O.'s, rank and file, and a January 1783 return gives 405 women and 302 children with a force totaling 10,443. The 1781 list is for a detachment approximately half the size of the force at Middlebrook and the last return was made in the final year of the war during the middle of a winter cantonment. The circumstances under which these other documents were made hinder a completely equitable comparison with the Middlebrook return which contained both a large number of troops and was made at the end of a winter camp and just prior to a major movement of the army. Additionally, the winter at Middlebrook stands out from most other winter camps. Unlike the forces around Boston in 1775-76 and at Morristown in the winter of 1776-77, the army at Middlebrook was a newly reorganized, disciplined, and experienced army, and had been accompanied by a numerous contingent of women and children during the previous two years. When compared to Valley Forge and the winter camps at Morristown in 1779-80 and 1780-81, the supply situation and economy of the country were markedly different, both criteria being in relatively good condition during the Middlebrook winter. The winters in the New York Highlands in 1781-82 and 1782-83 were rather more similar, though some units had moved southwards and many had been reduced in manpower.37
Leaving aside the dissimilarity in numbers, there are some points obliquely alluded to by both sets of returns. These have to do with the presence of women during a winter cantonment and their accompanying troops on campaign. First let us address the matter of the winter months. If the December 1777 return of four hundred women with the army at Valley Forge is accurate, and the large numbers recorded in the 1779 Middlebrook and 1783 New Windsor army returns are an indication, then one question begs to be asked: Did the majority of these women accompany the army as it entered a cantonment and winter over with the troops or were their numbers lower at the beginning of winter, only to increase as the weather began to moderate?
The women on the Wyoming return had probably remained with their units throughout the winter, this being inferred by the situation of these organizations at the time: Spalding's Company was a locally raised unit in a war-ravaged community whose families may have been unable or unwilling to leave their homes while at the same time needing some assurance of safety; Armand's Corps had been sent to the frontier late in 1778, and the German Regiment had been moved about quite frequently before its arrival at the Wyoming post. Some of their followers may have remained behind in New York or New Jersey when the troops marched west, but the probability of any such women rejoining their units given the distances involved and the difficult traveling conditions is unlikely, except perhaps when the dogged determination of female camp followers is taken into consideration. Added to this is prior evidence of the reluctance of those women to separate from their consorts in spite of very trying circumstances. (For examples of this determination see John U. Rees, "'The multitude of women': An Examination of the Numbers of Female Camp Followers with the Continental Army", The Brigade Dispatch, vol. XXIII, no. 4, 6-15; vol. XXIV, no. 1, 6-7, 10-15.)38
As for followers remaining in camp throughout the winter, this can only be assumed to have been the case for those women enumerated in the Middlebrook returns. Some women had previously wintered over with the army at Valley Forge. Unfortunately, accurate numbers of those who stayed cannot be known, even though we have the December 1777 return of four hundred women, the names of several individual females present at Valley Forge, and John Laurens’ remark that the "camp whores, who have become numerous, are being used as nurses." The only comprehensive and credible winter camp return is the one made in January 1783 for the army at New Windsor. That document shows large numbers of female followers with the troops; whatever the situation was during the intervening years cannot be known for certain.39
"Plan of a Regiment. Soldier's Hutts 14 by 16;"
"We began to hut the 19th - and go on with great Alacrity ...,"
Josiah Harmar, 6th Pennsylvania Regiment, Millstone Camp, 23 December 1778.
The women who wintered over at Middlebrook would have been accommodated in huts like these.
"Letter Book No: 1. Lieut. Colonel Josiah Harmar", 20 January 1778 to 9 November 1778
(Letter Book A), 14, Josiah Harmar Papers, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Courtesy of William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
It must be noted that the Valley Forge return of female followers is particularly interesting, as it was made at the close of an especially arduous campaign, at the beginning of which Washington had complained of "the multitude of women ... [who] are a clog upon every movement." In these circumstances it is possible the number of women with the army in December 1777 was less (perhaps much less) than had been present during the previous summer. It is also reasonable to assume that the number of followers in a winter cantonment increased as the warm season approached, with a proportion of the newly joined women remaining with the army in the ensuing campaign. The appeal of joining troops in a garrison or winter camp, especially when living conditions became better (or at least stabilized) and food supply improved, is apparent. Hence, the Middlebrook return may show the army in a situation where conditions were conducive for the accommodation of the highest number of followers for the year.40
While it is probable that large numbers of women were with the army for at least part of the winter at Middlebrook, as well as at some other winter camps, their presence during such times could be especially troublesome. Supplying food to soldiers in winter was a difficult task. Occasionally even the basic ration of "Salt Beef and Ash Cake" was hard to obtain due to the state of the economy, administrative inefficiencies, or vagaries of weather. By the time the army reached Valley Forge in December 1777 the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments had broken down and the army suffered during the three or four months it took to reorganize them. Several times during the severe winter of 1779-80 at Morristown there was "Great scarcity of Provisions in Camp" due to heavy snowfall and a poor economy. It may have been the inadequate food supply which prompted the commander of the 2nd Canadian Regiment to order that "No provision is to be allowed to any Woman or Women whatever, but such as may be ordered by the Commanding officer of the Regiment."41
There is one known instance when the women of a regiment may have been removed en masse from their unit in winter. In December 1780 the commander of the New Jersey Brigade was directed "to put a Captain with a full Company in readiness to march to Wyoming to relieve the Garrison at present there." This detachment, consisting of three officers and seventy men, marched from Pompton, New Jersey, early in the new year.42 A musician in the 3rd New Jersey noted that
On the 8 Day of January 1781 all the Odd Criples Envaleads Weoman and Children of [the] Jersey Bragd [brigade] Marcht for Wiomy In order to keep Garason for 1 Year ...43
The composition of this command was partially confirmed a year later when the men were described as being "by reason of age lameness & other infirmities, fit persons for Garrison duty only ..." (The women may have been sent to Wyoming to care for the invalids and assist them in their duties, or in order to place them in a situation where their presence was less of a burden to the army.) Evidently only a part of the followers marched with the Wyoming detachment since some women were present when the New Jersey regiments mutinied on 20 January. The women and children of the Jersey Brigade who did go to Wyoming in 1781 returned to the main army before the rest of the garrison, which was not relieved until February 1783. This is verified by the previously mentioned January 1783 return of followers showing thirty-nine women and twenty-seven children present with the Jersey troops at New Windsor.44
The presence of women on campaign with the army has been addressed in a previous article, but several new perspectives merit further discussion. As stated before, both returns examined in this study were compiled at the end of a winter camp and just prior to a major troop movement. Just how many women and children marched with the army when it left Middlebrook in 1779 cannot be known but the attendance of at least some followers is verified by the 7 June general order concerning women riding on baggage wagons.45 On this march, as in others, the presence of women was tolerated by the commanders only insofar as they did not retard the army’s progress.
Camp follower in marching order. Illustration by John R. Wright, courtesy of the artist.
By contrast as General John Sullivan's army moved towards Tioga, near the New York border, his orders frequently mentioned female followers. The first reference to women with the expedition occurred on 2 June 1779 at Easton, Pennsylvania, when regimental commanders were directed to "examine particularly the baggage of their soldiers & women and prevent their carrying more than their circumstances absolutely demand." During the march up the Susquehanna River the women's presence was taken advantage of. Though some of the army's baggage moved by water Sullivan also stipulated that "Every article ... that can possibly be loaded on Pack horses is to be fixed for that purpose and carried in that manner." The troops left Wyoming on 31 July; two days later it was decided that the women could facilitate the army's march by performing a task normally allocated to soldiers.46
Com[mandin]g officers of regiments will please to order all the women belonging to their respective corps, who can ride, immediately to quit the boats & proceed by land, as there will be a sufficiency of pack horses & as the women going on horseback will diminish the number of drivers from the army.47
Commanders eventually relented in other ways; in June 1781 the commander in chief admitted that some women would have to be permitted "to ride in waggons [or] walk in the ranks" with the troops while on the march.48
All in all, there is much that remains to be discovered about the women who followed the Continental Army. In regard to this particular study there are a number of items to put on the wish list. First, the (unlikely) discovery of a similar return (or series of returns) for the troops at the beginning of the Middlebrook winter would help address the question of numbers of followers throughout that cantonment. Additionally, during that winter large numbers of Continental troops were situated elsewhere. The New Jersey troops were cantoned at Elizabethtown and Newark, New Jersey, while the North Carolina Brigade spent the winter at Paramus in the same state. The Massachusetts regiments were stationed along the Hudson River at Fishkill, Peekskill, and West Point, and the Connecticut and New Hampshire troops found winter quarters at Danbury, Connecticut. It is unfortunate no returns are available for these detached units during this same period, especially as there is no information concerning women with the North Carolina troops during the war and data on followers in the New Jersey regiments is meager at best. In addition, the opportunity for further comparison between all of the brigades (or regiments) of the army during the same month would be helpful in order to observe any differences in numbers of camp followers among different organizations. Possibly, similar returns were made for those brigades that did not winter at Middlebrook, which, if they do exist, may be discovered at some future date.49
Another unknown element concerns the constancy of American camp followers. What was the proportion of women with the regiments who served consistently over a number of years or for the entire war. Soldiers were bound by the terms of their enlistment; women would not have been considered deserters if they left and would only have been sought for some very compelling reason such as the commission of a crime. Some turnover among the followers, even during a single year, was inevitable. The only way to ascertain this would be to put some names behind the numbers that we now have. This would have to be in conjunction with a series of returns or a first-hand narrative containing the names of female followers and indicating their presence with and departure from the parent unit. Again, an unlikely possibility, but one can always hope.
It seems that no matter how much information is found concerning these remarkable, but unremarked, women there will always remain a large void that will never properly be filled. The attendance of these followers was taken for granted, often begrudgingly, although in many instances their presence was taken advantage of to the benefit of the troops and the army as a whole. Although their contributions were rendered beyond the scope of the historical spotlight and the minutiae of their lives with the army have been all but relegated to obscurity, perhaps with a little luck further insights into the mundane and delightfully human aspects of their relationship with the community of the Continental Army will be brought to light.
As with my other writings, there are a number of people who made vital contributions to this work. Special thanks go to Thaddeus Weaver who discovered the Wyoming return of women, a find that led me on to uncover the Middlebrook returns in the same collection. Ron Beifuss and Henry M. Cooke IV made available previously unknown documents concerning female followers. Peter Copeland made me aware of the 1778 runaway advertisement for Sarah, the mulatto slave, while both he and John R. Wright were kind enough to allow use of their illustrations in the article. The William L. Clements Library and Princeton University Press allowed me to reproduce two maps in their holdings. Finally, my thanks to Don Hagist, who continues to be a moving force concerning the dissemination of new information on the women who followed the armies of the American Revolution, and, most of all, to Holly Mayer who once again plied her red pen and good advice in an effort to keep me on my toes. My thanks to all.
1. Holly A. Mayer, Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution (S.C., 1996) (hereafter cited as Mayer, Belonging to the Army). "Substance of the Contract for the moving Army", 9 July 1782, George Washington Papers, Presidential Papers Microfilm (Washington, D.C., 1961), series 4, reel 86 (hereafter cited as GW Papers).
2. Journal of Dr. Jabez Campfield, 4 August 1779, Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 (Glendale, N.Y., 1970), 53 (hereafter cited as Journals of Sullivan's Expedition).
3. John U. Rees, "'... the multitude of women': An Examination of the Numbers of Female Camp Followers with the Continental Army", The Brigade Dispatch (Journal of the Brigade of the American Revolution) three parts: vol. XXIII, no. 4 (Autumn 1992), 5-17; vol. XXIV, no. 1 (Winter, 1993), 6-16; vol. XXIV, no. 2 (Spring 1993), 2-6 (hereafter cited as Rees, "... the multitude of women").
4. ibid., vol. XXIV, no. 2, 3.
5. Of five letters written by Washington (for sources, see below) in which female followers are covered, one discusses rations and women serving as nurses, two solely concern rations for women, one asks for a proposal for setting the proportion of women to be allowed and the rations allotted to them, and two explain why the proposed proportion of one woman for fifteen men cannot be adhered to.
The nineteen general orders for the army which deal with women cover a variety of subjects. Since two topics were sometimes covered in tandem by a single order the following breakdown does not mirror the number of orders found:
Number of Orders
Dealing With the
Subject of General Order
1 Directs to sergeants to relay army orders to women
in their units.
1 States a proposal for the set proportion of women allowed
with the army in 1783.
2 Concern women serving as nurses. 2 Request returns of the number of women with the army. 2 Relate specific instances when women were not
to accompany the troops during a movement.
4 Direct a reduction of the numbers of women with the army. 4 Deal with the allotment of rations to women. 7 Order women to march with the baggage or prohibit their
riding on wagons.
George Washington's letters concerning female camp followers:
Washington to John Stark, 5 August 1778, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 12 (Washington, DC, 1934), 283-284 (hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick, WGW). Washington to Charles Stewart, 21 April 1779, ibid., vol. 14 (1936), 423. Washington to Col. Van Schaik, 19 October 1779, ibid., vol. 17 (1937), 489. Washington to a Board of General Officers, 12 June 1781, ibid., vol. 22 (1937), 203. Washington to the Superintendent of Finance, 29 January 1783, Washington to Henry Knox, 8 March 1783, ibid., vol. 26 (1938), 78-79, 199-200.
Female followers in Washington's general orders:
4 June, 17 June, 10 July 1777, ibid., vol. 8 (1933), 181, 257, 375.
4 August, 27 August, 13 September 1777, ibid., vol. 9 (1933), 17, 139, 213.
31 May 1778, ibid., vol. 11 (1934), 497-498.
19 June 1778, ibid., vol. 12 (1934), 94.
7 June 1779, ibid., vol. 15 (1936), 240.
1 August 1780, ibid., vol. 19 (1937), 300.
19 September 1780, ibid., vol. 20 (1937), 73.
14 June, 19 June 1781, ibid., vol. 22 (1937), 215, 233.
22 August 1781, ibid., vol. 23 (1937), 37-38.
30 August, 8 September, 28 December, 31 December 1782, ibid., vol. 25 (1938), 93-95, 139, 479-480, 496.
5 January 1783, ibid., vol. 26 (1938), 12.
My first study dealt with the number of women with the army based on information garnered from a number of returns covering the years 1776 to 1783. Of those returns studied all gave numbers of women in conjunction with some other factor relating to their presence with the army. (For analysis and citations of these returns see, Rees, "... the multitude of women", parts 1, 2 and 3)
6 individual returns or series of returns list the number of women in relation to the rations they consumed.
1-1779 return listed the women who remained as "Washer women" after the surplus followers had been sent away.
1-1776 return for a single company had the number of Washer-Women" appended. An interesting point is that although the number of needed tents is given no tentage was allowed for the three women.
1-1777 listing of mess squads included women with two of the groupings. A mess squad was a unit which related to both shelter and rations.
Although not a return of numbers, a 1777 order for Sullivan's Brigade stipulated the number of women alloted to a tent.
6. John Knox, The Siege of Quebec and the Campaigns in North America, 1757-1760, Brian Connell, ed., (Edinburgh, 1976), 228.
7. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six (New York, N.Y., 1975),153-154 (hereafter cited as Commager and Morris, Spirit of 'Seventy-Six). Rees, "... the multitude of women", XXIII, 4, 6.
8. Regimental orders, 30 September, 7 October 1778, Orderly Book of the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment, 1778, unpublished manuscript, private collection. Regimental orders, 14 August 1782, Orderly Book of the Tenth Mass. Regt., 1782, Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, accession no. 64.296 (Courtesy of Henry M. Cooke IV).
9. Pension papers of Patrick Cronkite, fifer, 1st New York Regiment, 1777-1783, supplementary depositions of Maria Cronkite (nee Humphrey) and Hendrick Plimley, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty - Land - Warrant Application Files, National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, reel 695, W16932. Mordecai Gist, runaway advertisement, 18 October 1778, The Brigade Dispatch, vol. X, no. 4 (Sept./Oct. 1974), 15. "Return of the Negroes in the Army," 24 August 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 51:
North Carolina 42 10 6 58 Woodford 36 3 1 40 (Virginia) Muhlenberg 64 26 8 98 (Virginia) Scott 20 3 1 24 (five regiments from
Virginia, one from Delaware)
Smallwood 43 15 2 60 Maryland 2nd Maryland 33 1 1 35 (three regiments from
Maryland, and German Regt.)
Wayne 2 2 (Pennsylvania) 2nd Pennsylvania Clinton 33 2 4 39 (New York) Parsons 117 12 19 148 (Connecticut) Huntingdon 56 2 4 62 (Connecticut) Nixon 26 1 27 (Massachusetts) Patterson 64 13 12 89 (Massachusetts) Late Learned 34 4 8 46 (Massachusetts) Poor 16 7 4 27 (three New Hampshire regiments
and 2nd Canadian Regt.)
Total 586 98 71 755
1778 brigade composition, Charles H. Lesser, Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army (Chicago, Il. and London, 1976), 80-81 (hereafter cited as Lesser, Sinews of Independence). See also: Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (New York, London, 1973), 68-93. John U. Rees, "'I Expect to be stationed in Jersey sometime ...': An Account of the Services of the Second New Jersey Regiment, December 1777 to June 1779", TMs, The David Library of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing, PA (hereafter cited as "I Expect to be stationed in Jersey sometime ..."). At least 2 blacks, 4 mulattoes and 3 Native Americans served in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment. "Blacks, Mulattoes and Indians Known to Have Served in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment of 1778-79," Appendix to the foregoing unpublished manuscript.
10. Joseph Plumb Martin, Private Yankee Doodle: A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier (New York, N.Y., 1962), 197-198. For Martin's references to "southerners" and "southern troops" see, 112-113, 135-136, 145-146.
11. Richard O. Eldred, "The Heroine of Yorktown", Daughters of the American Revolution (November 1984), 634-636, 698. Sandra Gioia Treadway, "Anna Maria Lane: An Uncommon Soldier of the American Revolution", Virginia Cavalcade, vol. 37, no. 3 (Winter 1988), 134-143. Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, IV (New York, N.Y., 1930), 438.
12. Washington to Edward Hand, 24 March 1779 and 1 April 1779, Washington to Zebulon Butler, 1 April 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 14 (1936), 286-287, 321-322, 323-324 (see also pagenote, 324).
13. Daniel Burchardt, major, German Regiment, to Washington, 20 March 1779, GW Papers. Henry J. Retzer, The German Regiment of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the Continental Army 1776-1781 (Westminster, Md., 1991), 26 (hereafter cited as Retzer, German Regiment). Washington to Edward Hand, 7 February 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 14 (1936), 74-75. Edward Hand to Washington, GW Papers, series 4, reel 56. Washington to Philip Schuyler, 16 November 1778, Washington to Edward Hand, 20 November 1779, Washington to the Officer Commanding Pulaski's Corps, 16 December 1778, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 13 (1936), 265, 293, 402.
14. Washington to Edward Hand, Washington to Zebulon Butler, 1 April 1779, ibid., vol. 14 (1936), 321-322, 323-324.
15. "Returns of the daily Issues of Provisions to the Troops at the Post of Wyoming, from May 9th. to the [27th]" 1779, Miscellaneous Numbered Records (The Manuscript File) in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, 1775-1790's, Record Group 93, National Archives Microfilm Publication M859, reel 75, item no. 22023 (hereafter cited as Misc. Numbered Records). (Document courtesy of Thaddeus Weaver)
16. The contention that the women on the Wyoming return are allowed a full ration is based on the supposition that officer's rations are not included, officers usually being issued more than one ration. The fact that for each entry the rations issued exactly equals the number of days multiplied by the number of men and women seems to support the idea that each person listed was allotted one ration. For a general study of rations in the Continental Army see: John U. Rees, "'It was my turn to cook for the mess': Provisions of the Common Soldier in the Continental Army, 1775-1783", feature column in Food History News beginning with vol. VII, no. 1 (Fall 1995). For specific information on officer's rations see, John U. Rees, "'A better repast ...': Officer's Fare in the Continental Army" (unpublished manuscript). For rations and camp followers see: Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIII, no. 4, 15, endnote no. 2.
17. "Return of the Independent Corps of Cavallerie and of Foot, Commanded by Collonel Armand. Menesing January 4. 1779," Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives Microfilm Publication M246, Record Group 93, reel 115, section 16-2 (hereafter cited as Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives).
18. Fred Anderson Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiments and Independent Corps (Harrisburg, Pa., 1972), 39, 104, 113 (hereafter cited as Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units). Worthington Chauncey Ford, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. XI (Washington, D.C., 1908), 634. Washington to Zebulon Butler, 1 April 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 14 (1936), 324. For enemy incursions at the time see: Washington to Edward Hand, 24 March and 1 April 1779, ibid., vol. 14, 286-287, 321-322.
Although not strictly pertinent to this study, the unusual presence of Connecticut Settlers in Pennsylvania merits some explanation. The following has been excerpted from, Anne M. Ousterhout, A State Divided: Opposition in Pennsylvania to the American Revolution (New York, Westport, Ct., London, 1987), 232-234: "The Wyoming area originally had been settled by people from Connecticut, but their claims fell within the boundaries of Pennsylvania's charter. Both sides claimed charter grants and Indian treaties to support their claims to the Wyoming Valley. The Susquehannah Company of Connecticut, organized in 1753 to settle the area, claimed that the 1662 charter of Connecticut had granted to that colony land from sea to sea nineteen years before William Penn had secured his charter granting him land overlapping the area previously given to Connecticut. The company recognized the intervening land of New York, whose eastern border Connecticut had accepted in 1664, but argued that Connecticut could overjump New York territory and continue its old charter claims to the 'South Seas' ... after the Indian treaty of Fort Stanwix opened this area to legal white settlement ... Several Connecticut groups moved into the region under the auspices of the Susquehannah Company, but the settlers were driven off by representatives of the Penns. In February 1770, the Paxton Boys from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who had already had their own conflicts with the Pennsylvania authorities, joined the New Englanders and, in exchange for land, provided that group with the military muscle needed to displace the Pennsylvanians." After a series of minor conflicts, in which each side sustained losses, in 1771 "Pennsylvania's support for its settlers was so weak and disorganized that the Susquehannah Company settlers were able to capture the Pennsylvania fort and once more take charge of the region. By the following spring, Connecticut people ("Yankees") were moving into the Wyoming Valley in substantial numbers, and this time were there to stay." The Pennsylvanians (or "Pennamites") were determined to confine Yankee settlement to the east branch of the Susquehanna River, and were successful in doing so. In 1774 the Wyoming Valley area was made into a large town called Westmoreland by the Connecticut government, and assigned to the Connecticut county of Litchfield. In the remaining few years prior to the War of the Revolution both Pennsylvania and Connecticut surveyors were active in the area, although "Connecticut had de facto control over the area and Connecticut settlers were flocking there to claim land under the auspices of that colony. In December 1775, one last Pennsylvania expedition ... failed to dislodge the New Englanders. The Penns continued to protest the Connecticut settlements on their land, but it was not until December 1782, at Trenton, that congressional commissioners heard the respective claims and decided in favor of Pennsylvania." For removal of Spalding's Company from the Wyoming area and settlement of the dispute see: Washington to Zebulon Butler, 29 December 1780, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 21 (1937) 32. Washington to the Secretary at War, 6 November 1782, ibid., vol. 25 (1938) 321. Washington to John Dickinson, 12 January 1783, ibid., vol. 26 (1938) 33.
19. Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units, 9-10: "On June 11, 1777 Lieutenant Colonel Charles Armand-Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouerie, succeeded to the command of Baron Ottendorf's Independent Company. Armand was an officer in the French Army. By November of that year the unit ... was down to 42 privates. Armand ... initiated a recruiting drive. His recruiters brought in their share of wretched characters, including German prisoners of war." The unit was also known as Armand's "Free and Independent Chasseurs" or Partisan Corps. On 21 June "a Corps of German Volunteers was incorporated into the unit." Washington to William Malcom, 27 July 1778, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 12 (1934), 240. Armand to Washington, 20 January 1779, Letters of Col. Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie, 1779-1791, vol. II, Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1878, XI (New York, N.Y., 1879), 307-308 (hereafter cited as Letters of Col. Armand, NYHS). Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army (New York and London, 1996) 61 (hereafter cited as Neimeyer, America Goes to War). Bruce E. Burgoyne, "Women with the Hessian Auxiliaries during the American Revolutionary War", part 1, The Brigade Dispatch, vol. XXVI, no. 1 (Spring 1996), 2-4 (hereafter cited as Burgoyne, "Women with the Hessian Auxiliaries"): One table in this article gives the number of women with six German regiments in the last two months of 1779. When the ratios of women to men are calculated they are similar to the Continental average, that is, about one woman for thirty-three men. Retzer, German Regiment, V-VI, 1-6. Neimeyer, America Goes to War, 49-50.
The strength of Armand's Corps (noted as being at Minisink) in the spring of 1779 was 64 present fit for duty, 3 sick present, 5 on command, 1 on furlough. Total: 73. Washington's memorandum of the Strength of the Continental Army, Spring 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 14 (1936), 401. A 25 June return shows a total of 84 officers and enlisted men in the unit, then stationed at Wyoming, "A Return of the Independend Corps commanded by Collo Armand Wyoming June 25th 1779," Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, reel 115, section 16-2.
20. Journals of Sullivan's Expedition, 325-326. Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIV, no. 1, 6-8. Retzer, German Regiment, 33-34.
21. German Regiment: ibid., 33-34, 43-46. Washington to Joseph Reed, 1 August 1780, Washington to Ludowick Weltner, colonel, German Battalion, 1 August 1780, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 19 (1937), 294-295, 296. Armand's Legion: Washington to John Sullivan, 21 June 1779, ibid., vol. 15 (1936), 295.Mark M. Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, N.Y., 1966), 1127-1128 (hereafter cited as Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution). Charles Bracelen Flood, Rise, and Fight Again: Perilous Times Along the Road to Independence (New York, N.Y., 1976), 285-286. Washington to Stephen Moylan, 26 October 1781, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 23 (1937), 270. Spalding's Company: Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units, 113. Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army (Washington, D.C., 1983), 243 (hereafter cited as Wright The Continental Army). Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 1040. Washington to Zebulon Butler, 29 December 1780, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 21 (1937) 32.
22. Peter Angelakos, "The Army at Middlebrook 1778-1779", Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol. 70 (April 1952), 105 (hereafter cited as Angelakos, "The Army at Middlebrook"). Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution (New York, N.Y., 1952), 594-595 (hereafter cited as Ward, War of the Revolution).
23. Washington to Charles Stewart, 21 April 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 14 (1936), 423.
24. "Weekly return of provisions and Stores Issued to the Grand Army under the Immediate Command of ... General Washington Including the Park of Artillery at Pluckemin ...", five returns for the period 21 April to 28 May 1779, Misc. Numbered Records, reel 76, item nos. 22185, 22186, 22187, 22188 and 22189. For brigade composition see, Lesser, Sinews of Independence, 112-115.
25. Washington to Lord Stirling, 3 June 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 15 (1936), 217.
26. Angelakos, "The Army at Middlebrook", 119-120. Samuel Hodgdon to Benjamin Flowers, 3 June 1779, Letters sent by Commissary General of Military Stores and Assistant Quartermaster Samuel Hodgdon ... July 19, 1778-May 24, 1784, Numbered Record Books Concerning Military Operations and Service, Pay and Settlement of Accounts, and Supplies in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93, National Archives Microfilm Publication M853, reel 33, vol. 111, target 2, 200-201 (hereafter cited as Numbered Record Books, Military Operations).
27. General Orders, 7 June 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 15 (1936), 240. For the orders concerning women on the march see: General orders, 10 July 1777, ibid., vol. 8 (1933), 375. General orders, 27 August 1777, 13 September 1777, ibid., vol. 9 (1933), 139, 213. General orders, 31 May 1778, ibid., vol. 11 (1934), 497-498. General orders, 19 June 1778, ibid., vol. 12 (1934), 94. General orders, 7 June 1779, ibid., vol. 15 (1936), 240. General orders, 19 September 1780, ibid., vol. 20 (1937), 73.
28. General orders, 19 June 1781, ibid., vol. 22 (1937), 233.
29. Samuel Hodgdon to Major Peirson, 30 June 1779, Numbered Record Books, Military Operations, reel 33, vol. 111, target 2, 223-224. Ward, War of the Revolution, 596-610.
30. Wright, The Continental Army: additional regiments from Virginia., 101; 1779 reorganization, 147; reorganization of Virginia additional regiments, 148; Unit histories, Virginia numbered regiments, 283-293; Gist's, Grayson's and Thruston's Additional Regiments, 321, 322, 325.
31. ibid., 126-128.
32. Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-3. Mayer, Belonging to the Army, 155-156, endnote 37.
33. Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIV, no. 1, 9; vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-3.
34. John B.B. Trussell, Jr., The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783 (Harrisburg, Pa., 1977), 18-20. Joseph Reed to the Council of Pennsylvania, 11 January 1781. John B. Linn and William H. Egle, eds. Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, vol. XI (Harrisburg, Pa., 1880), 69-670. Lesser, Sinews of Independence, 188. Regimental orders, 25 February 1783, "Camp on James Island", South Carolina. "Lieutenant Colonel Harmar's Orders for the First Pennsylvania Regiment [Book] No. 1.", 6 November 1782 to 28 March 1783, Josiah Harmar Papers, William C. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan (hereafter cited as Harmar Papers.)
35. Some confusion exists as to what total unit strength was for Armand's Corps. A 14 June return shows a total of 82 officers and enlisted men in the unit, then stationed at Wyoming, "Return of the Independend Corps Commanded by Collo. Armand Wyoming June 14th 1779," Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, reel 115, section 16-2. This roll differs from those found in Lesser, Sinews of Independence, 88-89, 100-101, 128-129. Strength reports for Armand's Legion: October 1778, 170 men; January 1779, 113 men at "Upper Smithfield", Pennsylvania: August 1779, 154 men.
36. Commager and Morris, The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six, 153-154. For material supporting the conclusions for the rest of the war see Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIII, no. 4, 5-17; vol. XXIV, no. 1, 6-16; vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-6. General orders, 25 July 1778, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 12 (1934), 231. "Brigade-major, is an Officer appointed to act to a particular brigade. The most ingenious and expert Captains should be chosen for this post; they are to wait at orderly time to receive the orders which they carry, first to their proper General, and afterwards to the Adjutants of regiments ... [the Adjutants] regulate together the guards, parties, detachments, and convoys, and appoint them the hour and place of rendezvous, at the head of the brigade, where the Brigade-major takes and marches them to the place of general rendezvous." Among other duties "He ought to know the state and condition of the brigade ..." Military Dictionary 1768.
37. ibid., vol. XXIII, no. 4, 5; vol. XXIV, no. 1, 9; vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-3.
38. For the strong-willed nature of German followers see, Burgoyne, "Women with the Hessian Auxiliaries" (part 1) vol. XXVI, no. 1, 4.
39. John W. Jackson, Valley Forge: Pinnacle of Courage (Gettysburg, Pa., 1992), 169 (hereafter cited as Jackson, Valley Forge: Pinnacle). John B.B. Trussell, Jr., Birthplace of an Army: A Study of the Valley Forge Encampment (Harrisburg, Pa., 1983), 72-73, 84-85. Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-3.
40. ibid., vol. XXIII, no. 4, 5. General orders, 4 August 1777, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 9 (1933), 17.)
41. John N. Cummings to John Ladd Howell, 24 February 1781, Howell Papers, Stewart Collection, Savitz Library, Rowan State College, Glassboro, New Jersey. Jackson, Valley Forge: Pinnacle, 80-101. Samuel Stelle Smith, Winter at Morristown, 1779-1780: The Darkest Hour (Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1979), regimental order cited as coming from Hawkins Order Book, 2 January 1780, Sergeant Major John F. Hawkins Orderly Books Nos. 1 and 2 for Moses Hazen's Regiment, Hand's Brigade, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Manuscript Division, 11-15, 19, 50, 53. "Lieut. Colonel Josiah Harmar's Journal. No: 1. Commencing November 11th: 1778.", 11 November 1778 to 2 September 1780, Harmar Papers, 79, 81-82, 91-92, 101.
42. Washington to Israel Shreve, 28 December 1780, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 21 (1937) 29. Israel Shreve to Mary ["Polley"] Shreve, 7 January 1781, Israel Shreve to George Washington, 8 January 1781, Israel Shreve Papers, Rutgers University, Alexander Library.
43. Music Book of Aaron Thompson, fifer 3rd New Jersey Regiment, Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection, Yale University Library, Mss. Group No. 352 (microfilm edition, frame 113).
44. Elias Dayton to Washington, 9 February 1782, GW Papers. General orders, 19 February 1783, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 26 (1938) 147. From Pompton, New Jersey, Colonel Shreve wrote: "It is with pain I inform Your Excellency that the troops at this place revolted this evening and have marched toward Trenton ... I was informed by a woman, of their intentions late this afternoon ...", Israel Shreve to Washington, 20 January 1781, GW Papers, series 4, reel 74. Carl Van Doren, Mutiny in January (New York, N.Y., 1943), 208. Rees, "... the multitude of women", vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2-3.
45. General Orders, 7 June 1779, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 15 (1936), 240.
46. General orders, 2 June 1779, Order Book of Lt. Col. Francis Barber, 26 May 1779 to 6 September 1779, Louise Welles Murray, ed., Notes from Craft Collection in Tioga Point Museum on the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, (Athens, Pa., 1929), 4. General orders, 27 July 1779, 30 July 1779, ibid., 47, 53.
47. After orders, 2 August 1779, ibid., 58.
48. General orders, 19 June 1781, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 22 (1937), 233.
49. Angelakos, "The Army at Middlebrook", 99-101.