Women in the American Revolution

Women in the American Revolution - Women in the Revolution...

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Women in the Revolution: An Historical Account of the Roles and Exploits of Women During the American Revolutionary War
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Even to modern times, war has been predominately an activity of solely male soldiers. Feminist movements have changed the composition of modern armies, however men still chiefly make up the battalions. But the role of women in certain wars can certainly not be forgotten. Recent examples cast the role that women play, even if not fighting on the frontlines, as vital and necessary. World War II saw the introduction of the now famous Rosie the Riveter as a symbol for the feminist influence in the American side of the war. But female participation predates even the symbolic Rosie. Even back to the time of the American Revolution, the role of women could not be denied. During this period, thousands of women could be found in the army on both the American and British side. Most were wives or daughters of officers or soldiers. Known as “camp followers”, these women maintained an almost constant presence in the military camps. However, history has lost the individual names of the majority of women present as none were regarded as actual parts of the military, so their names were never recorded. It is also difficult to say what their actual duties consisted of. It is likely that their primary duties consisted primarily of cooking, mending, laundry, childcare, and nursing 1 , however there were certain women whose roles greatly transcended those of the typical “camp followers” of the American Revolution. One of the more remarkable figures of the American Revolution is a young woman named Deborah Samson. In October of 1778, this young woman of Plympton, Massachusetts disguised herself as a man and went under the fake name Robert Shirtliffe. She served in the military for three years and was wounded twice – first by a sword slash to the side of the head and second when she was shot through the shoulder 2 . Her identity 1 "Contributions of Women During the American Revolution." Courtney, Gillian: Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site. 2 Wilson, Barbara A. Amazing Women in War and Peace. 1996.
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as a man went unsuspected until she came down with a brain fever – common among soldiers at the time – and was discovered to be a woman by the acting physician 3 .
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