Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Review: Revolutionary Mothers by Carol Berkin



Carol Berkin
Vintage Books
February 14, 2006
Paperback, 224 pages,  $16.00

Much praise is given to Carol Berkin for this important addition to our American Revolutionary War history shelves. It is a fascinating history of women that may surprise some readers and raise questions for others.  Often overlooked and forgotten, the women who lived and died while the struggle for our independence was fought are recognized in REVOLUTIONARY MOTHERS: WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.

Some may be surprised to learn that Martha Washington and many other officers wives accompanied their husbands in battle.  British and Hessian officers adopted a temporary substitute wife, while the average soldier, had numerous women to pick from the hoards of camp followers who tagged along.  What Berkin points out is that it was only natural for women to follow men into battle, because men needed someone to care for them. Whether to do laundry, cook, nurse the sick or carnal pleasure, the men were better soldiers with their women along, and their leaders knew it.   

Whether the women were involved in actually fighting, which they were or travelling along side their spouse, women of all races had numerous roles to satisfy.  Chapters detail the various roles women played in Colonial Society and during and after the war. There were those who were left home, others who followed, some were General’s wives, or loyalists in exile, Indian Women, African American Women and many women became spies or couriers.  

This book evokes a penchant to read more about forgotten and omitted women who have historical relevance.  The endnotes and bibliography offer a place to begin. Readers will no doubt recognize famous men from this war, but those who find it difficult to name any famous women, will devour with fervor, REVOLUTIONARY MOTHERS: WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.

Wisteria Leigh
December 2013

Disclosure: Self-purchase

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