Camp Followers

Technically, the term camp followers refers to noncombatants accompanying an army in the field. Camp followers, both male and female, provided essential services of support and logistics in pre- and early-modern military conflicts. Nonetheless, female camp followers in particular were frequently regarded with utmost suspicion by authorities and moralists intent on upholding discipline and gender(ing) distinctions. In current language, the term therefore carries strong gender, class, and negative moral connotations.

It was only with the advent of officially commissioned logistics units and female middle- and upper-class volunteers after the mid-19th century that modernizing militaries could rid themselves of the support of camp followers. Yet, the problem of “civilians” in the service of, and mixing with, armies has recurred throughout the age of mass warfare and, in ...

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