Contribution of Women in American Revolution

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Contributions of Women during the American Revolution

During the American Revolution thousands of women took an active role in both the American and British armies. Most were the wives or daughters of officers or soldiers. These women, who maintained an almost constant presence in military camps, were known as "camp followers." Here at Stony Point Battlefield, there were 52 women who were captured with the British garrison on the night of July 15, 1779 by the American Corps of Light Infantry. In spite of the fact that these women were not considered to be part of the army they were still included in the list of British prisoners taken at Stony Point. Because women frequently did not serve any military function during the war, their individual names were never listed in the records of the day and are therefore unknown to us. It is also difficult to state accurately what their duties were as camp followers. It may be surmised though that their duties consisted primarily of cooking, mending, laundry, childcare, and nursing the sick. As a camp follower a woman was paid a small wage and was supplied with a half ration of food for herself. While the above mentioned tasks were performed by the majority of women found within camp life, an occasional woman found herself placed or placed herself in extraordinary circumstances. Her participation in such situations were frequently well beyond the roles dictated by 18th-century society.

One of the most remarkable individuals of the Revolution was a young lady by the name of Deborah Sampson. It was her desire to avoid hard labor on the family farm that led her to impersonate a man and join the American army. Sampson first enlisted under the name Timothy Thayer early in 1782. When she failed to report for duty after a night spent imbibing at a local tavern, her true identity was discovered. In May of 1782, she re-enlisted, this time in Captain George Webb's Co. 4th Massachusetts Regiment, under the name of Robert...
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