Re-enactment of the Battle of Saratoga
The Turning Point of the American Revolution
Helen Smith: Wife of a Soldier

Helen Smith was the wife of a Continental Soldier. She traveled with the encampment that her husband was in. Her jobs were to mend uniforms, cook, do the wash, nurse invalids, and feed her family. During the war, everyone in the encampment worked.

One of the major problems that a woman faced was sickness. If the woman's husband died, she would be forced to either leave the encampment or marry another soldier within twenty-four hours. To find another husband was not difficult, since a wife would take good care of her husband.

Single women were not allowed in the encampments, because they would be considered "loose." George Washington did not generally want women in his encampments, since he believed that they distracted the men from their duties. More men were willing to join the Continental Army if their families were allowed to tag along. Most women joined their husbands because they were unable to run the farm on their own. Others were driven out of their homes by British soldiers.

Although it may seem that the women had boring lives, they were often very close to the battles themselves. After dark, they would occasionally be required to go to the battlefields and search for guns and other items that had been the property of now dead soldiers. In one instance, a woman who had been on the battlefield bringing water to the men actually had to take her husband's place at a cannon.

Main Page
Major General Benjamin Lincoln
Helen Smith: Wife of a Soldier
Lieutenant in the Light Infantry
Lieutenant William Cumberland Wilkinson

Wife of a Soldier

Hired German Soldiers
The American Encampment

The British Encampment