Belonging to the Army reveals the identity
and importance of the civilians now referred to as camp
followers, whom Holly A. Mayer calls the forgotten revolutionaries
of the War for American Independence. These wives and
children, servants and slaves, merchants, contractors,
government officers, and military employees provided
necessary supplies, services, and emotional support
to the troops of the Continental Army. Mayer describes
how they made encampments livable communities and argues
that by doing so they played a fundamental role in the
survival and ultimate success of the Continental Army.
She notes that the army wanted to be rid of most followers
but, unable to fulfill its own support functions, instead
assimilated these civilians and thus gave an expansive
meaning to the term "belonging to the army."