Being deployed to fight during wars and some other dangerous situations was unquestionably hard. Not only because you were trying not to get killed while fighting, all while being surrounded by enemies who wanted you dead. You were also away from the comforts of your home and family. You would also have to worry about cooking, doing the laundry, and some other general logistical tasks, especially when modern military logistics were not a thing yet. Thankfully, armies at that time could rely on the help of camp followers.

Yes, I Do the Cooking

During the Revolutionary War, soldiers faced the most dangerous military campaigns and engaged in combats left and right. Thousands of American women volunteered themselves in the military and helped alleviate some of the burdens. These unenlisted people, who were usually the soldiers’ families and relatives, would do the laundry, cooking, nursing, and general logistics and travel with the troops as they moved through campaigns.

Although this was not an officially approved practice, the help and presence of these camp followers alleviated the strains on the crude logistical services that the armies had during that period. A large number of these women were widows or had been displaced by the ongoing conflict. In addition, the wives of the high-ranking officials would also join the camp followers.

In Front of the Tent of a Camp-follower. (Philips Wouwerman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from the wives, families, and widows, civilian traders also joined in the travel. These traders would follow the soldiers to sell goods and services that were not supplied by the government.