Orderly Book - DeLancey's Brigade - British Army,

1776 - 1778

 

Oyster Bay 7 Apl 1777

The Commanding Offr Orders that the Woman of the 1st Battn draws provisions half Rations According to General Howes Orders Children half Do

 

The affection and devotion of 18th Century wives to their husbands was immense, just as it can be today.  During the Revolution many of these wives and also unmarried attachments accompanied the armies on marches and in camp, as well as during battle.  A large number of these women, people of every ethnicity and social class, attached themselves to the different regiments.  This number grew as people were forced from their homes and sought safety with one side of the conflict or as soldiers met and married women on their travels.  Their lives were difficult, trying and dangerous.  Woman belonging to the army in the 18th Century were a valuable asset to each Battalion and earned their rations in various ways.  Their regular duties were to serve at hospital as nurses, sometimes as cooks, cleaning woman, seamstresses or laundresses occasionally as a combination of all four.  Many woman also sought to augment their income by selling merchandise and liquor to the troops.  These woman included wives, mothers, mistresses and daughters.  In addition, children accompanied this group of non-combatant army personnel, commonly referred to as "distaff" or as "Others".

British Officer Thomas Anbury wrote:

 

You will readily allow that it is the highest test of affection in a woman, to share with her husband the toils and hardships of the campaign, especially such a one as the present.... she traversed dreary regions, encountered hunger and weariness, and witnessed all the carnage of a long disputed field - unanimated by the tumult, and without sharing the glory.