“Following the Drum”

Although the book Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment was published in 2009, I just recently discovered it. For shame! Written by Nancy K. Loane who is a former seasonal ranger at Valley Forge National Historical Park, it describes the women, of high social status, middling, and low, who spent time at Valley Forge in 1777-1778 and at other winter encampments. Women whose names you are likely to recognize—Martha Washington, Catherine Greene, Lucy Knox, Rebekah Biddle, Lady Stirling, and Alice Shippen—receive considerable attention, in part, because there is a good deal of source material available: documents, diaries, and letters. But there are also chapters devoted to the women of Washington’s “family,”—his slaves, servants, and spies—as well as to camp followers, many of whom were wives of serving soldiers. Mostly they washed, cooked, did laundry, nursed the ill and wounded, and cared for children and babies, with only grudging recognition and little recompense. Ms. Loane provides many details about their roles and the hardships they endured. Very readable, the book is well researched and documented. You can see a video of Ms. Loane talking about the book on C-SPAN.

posted April 28th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Camp followers, Valley Forge, Washington, Martha

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