Documentation on Campfollowers in 1755
The British army in the 18th century was a mobile community. Besides the officers and soldiers, the army also consisted of the men's wives and families, and a host of suttlers that followed the army selling food, liquor, and other commodities to the men. During the opening of Braddock's campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1755 there were complaints that there were:
A great number of women being brought over than those allowd by the government sufficient for washing...(1)
Because of the great number of women following his army, General Braddock issued orders that:
Six women per company are allowed each of the two regiments: & indipendant companys 4, women to each of the Company of Carpenters Virginian & Maryland rangers 5, Women to the Artillery, 2 women to the detachment of seamen & 2 women for the troops of Light Horse... (2)
Any women found it camp that was not on a list kept by the Brigade Major would:
For the first time be severely punished and for the second suffer death. (3)
The women allowed to follow the regiment performed a variety of duties such as: Washing and mending clothes, hospital nurses, suttlers, and officer's servants. Women belonging to the army were also issued rations by the army just as the men were, and received the same medical treatment as the men.
Sir Peter Halkett's regt. to receive two days provisions, As ye women are to receive eight days provions. (4)
At half an hour after 12 oClock the Twenty women to be at Docr. McKinleys tent and any women that shall be absent will be sent back. (5)
It being the genll orders that six women a company should march up the country with the men, therefore he ordered the Doctors to search and see who was clean and proper to. (6)
This day all the women that goes up the cuntry was taken to the Doctors to see if they was clean and ready to march. (7)
Campfollowers were also under the authority of military law. Offenses such as stealing, overcharging for services, or selling liquor without a lincense could be punishable by being drummed out if camp, lashings, or even executions
Any soldier that shall be found selling liquors to any of the rest of the men shall be severly punished. Any soldiers wife that shall be detected in the same shall likewise be punished & drummed out of the camp. (8)
Any soldier suttler or woman or any person what ever belonging to the army who shall be detected of stealing, plundering, or wasting any of the provisions shall suffer death. (9)
Women were payed for their services, such as washing the soldier's and officer's clothes, cooking, and cleaning. The army regulated the prices that could be charged for such services. The women attached to Braddock's army in 1755 were payed sixpence a day for their servives. On one occasion the women of Braddock's army refused to work under their regulated prices.
A concert is enterd into not to serve without exorbitant wages, A return will be calld for those who refuse to serve for six pence per day and provisions that they may be turned out of camp and others go in their places. (1)
The campfollowers of the army, though non-combatants, were not exempt from becoming casualties.
A bout eleven in the morning the French indians attacked our baggage on the march in the rear and scalped a soldier and a woman. (10)
In going over the river there was an indian shot one of our women and began to scalp her. Her husband being a little before shot the indian dead. (11)
For more information on campfollowers click here
Created by Ryan Gale Designs: firstname.lastname@example.org