Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The contributions of female camp followers to the Continental Army are often overlooked in the study of the American Revolution. The lower-class women who followed the army performed services absolutely necessary for its operation and created a vital support network for the fledgling army that could not care for its own needs. Camp followers were therefore integral to the success of the American Revolution, but they rarely receive due credit for their contributions because they acted outside the bounds of eighteenth-century feminine values.

The intent for this thesis is to pull camp followers out of the footnotes of history and to highlight their indispensable function in the Revolutionary War. It explains women’s crucial role in army camps, and it argues that their efforts are disregarded because the hardships of war tarnished traditional standards of their femininity, incited contemporary criticisms, and led to a severe shortage of academic works on the subject of camp followers. Using military reports and orders, pension records, contemporary accounts, sermons, letters, newspapers, and other publications, this thesis sheds light on the extraordinary challenges and sacrifices that camp followers made to achieve independence and keep their families together during the eight long years of the American Revolution.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Kate Brown, Ph.D.


History | Women's Studies