Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Women in the British Army in America

Soldiers Cooking (1798), after Rowlandson [1]

            Excellent research by Don Hagist on the role of women in the British armies of the American Revolution.  "Women in the British Army in America"  (link) has been published before but has resurfaced via the Museum of the American Revolution.  Good read.  I was very surprised at the numbers involved, although I had read anecdotally in journals about the numbers and the administrative and logistical requirements in accomodating "soldiers' wives". 

British Troops on the March, (1790) [2]

         What is most interesting is the section on employment of women in a support role.  Perhaps we need to revisit having the " ladies  doing the cooking at living history events and expand their roles:  Sutleresses, Regimental Stores, Nurses, Laundresses, Seamstresses, Foragers, etc.   No mention of cooking...lots of other occupations, however.  Even on campaign, apparently:

           "The good woman who had fetched water for us at the risk of her life now got her reward. Everyone threw a handful of money into her apron, and she received altogether more than twenty guineas. In moments like this the heart seems to overflow with gratitude..." [3]
        And yet they had the audacity to caricature the French...

French Barracks (1786), Rowlandson [4]

     Here's to the ladies.


                "She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.  She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed;  her husband also, and he praises her:  'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

                                                   -Proverbs 31:24-31 (NIV)
[1] Rowlandson, T. (1798) Soldiers Cooking, Schutz Engr.  London, Ackerman, retrieved from, 27 Mar 13.

[2] Artist Unknown (c. 1790).  Anne S.K. Brown Collection.  retrieved from, 27 Mar 13.

[3] Brown, Marvin L., Jr. Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a Tour of Duty, 1776-1783. The University of North Carolina Press, 1965. p. 60., as quoted in Hagist, D. L. (2002). 

[4] Rowlandson, T. (1786).  French Barracks, London:  S.W. Fores.  retrieved from, 27 Mar 13.

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