The American Revolution war also as American war of Independence started as a war between the British Kingdom and thirteen of their colonies. The war was an inconsistency among wars that applies guerilla tactics as well as ungainly militias since it only lasted for six years. In the beginning of the war only men participated in the war while women retained their traditional roles. However things changed and women found it necessary out of their own consent to indulge in the war. (Cott, 2001)
Women participate in the revolutionary war in various ways which included political, domestic and civil aspects. During the war, women were responsible for washing clothes for soldiers as well as cooking and tending for them. The patriot women boycotted goods brought by the British, followed the marching armies and also spied on the British. Women were also beneficial during war times as they delivered messages and participated in the fights disguised as men for example Abigail Adams.
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Women embarked on spinning and weaving activities which had gone into disuse. The women of Boston made 40,000 skeins of yarn that were used during the war.
The war brought about several changes in the country among them change of women’s position and roles in the society. Their roles started to change, this is because with war women’s roles changed from just being mothers to taking charge of all the family affairs after their husbands or fathers left for war or died in the war. (Perica, 1999)
During the revolutionary war there were many diseases that were contagious including small pox. These diseases claimed the lives of many soldiers including women soldiers. Back at home women took role of medicine men to help the affected soldiers as well as children who had been infected by the diseases.
Women also took arms though traditionally call to arms was mainly for men. Several women pulled on military uniforms in the quest to fight against the British. For example Deborah Samson of Plymton, Massachusetts in 1778 masked herself as a young man and joined the American army as a volunteer to be in opposition to the enemy.
Women’s loyalty to their husband’s which was once a private commitment was politicized especially for American women who committed themselves to men who served the Great Britain Empire. Women participation in the war was a sign of equality and freedom that most of them had yearned for. African American women also participated in the war and supported the British in the hope end of slavery and ultimate freedom.
To the Native American women, the war greatly affected their lives. Their homes and families were disrupted as well as their agricultural lives.
Though women suffered both physically and emotionally from the consequences brought about by war, they benefited socially. The role of women changed positively. They had access to property rights as their men moved and left them behind. Women became responsible for management of farms, businesses, homes and other resources which were traditionally the role of men. Women came to realize their abilities and talents other than just being housewives or keepers. There duties and responsibilities took a new direction as they were expected to take over the roles which previously were men’s. Women were given more benefits than before during the war. (Cott, 2001)
Women involvement in the war however led to violation of their rights. The British soldiers were well trained while American natives had no militia training in combating the enemy. Women who participated in the war suffered from physical injuries, fatalities and also were sexually abused by the soldiers both from their side and from the opponent side.
Women dedicated their effort in support for their husbands during the war. When one thinks of independence fighters in America, it is important to acknowledge the heroes who fought effortlessly by their men to gain independence. Anna Warner, the wife to captain Elijah Bailey aided the wounded during on the time of the terrible massacre which took place at Griswald, Connecticut. She moved from house to house and collected materials for soldiers’ bandages. During the attack on Fort Washington, Margaret Corbin stepped up to the artillery when her husband fell by her side and unreluctantly took his position and performed his duties and she was awarded pension for her heroism by the congress in 1779. Several other women physically participated in the war and took brave actions during various instances. (Krueger, 2002)
The participation of women in the war opened doors for equality in the male chauvinistic society. Women proved to men that they were equally capable of par taking the roles that the society designed only for men. When women became responsible for the resources, there was a significant change in their lives as they had control of the resources. After the war they became economically empowered and were in a better position in decision making. Women were involved in political matters of the state and realized the need to fight for their rights in the society. Thus the war was positively welcomed by women.
The role of women in the revolutionary war in all aspects was a great success and assisted in achievement of independence. Women involvement in the war earned them respect in the society. When men returned home from war, they never underestimated women although they were not granted equality as they expected. (Ellet, 1998)
Though women were controlled in the previous society, after the war they at least had some priority in the family and some men appreciated their efforts. The Congress in particular appreciated the role that the women played during the war. Women participation in the war was an act which demonstrated their ability and dedication to the society which was often undermined by the society. This may have triggered the women civil rights war. Their rights were defined after the war and the society changed from then on.
- Elizabeth, Ellet. and Lincoln, Diamant. Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence, New York: McGraw Hill, 1998.
- Nancy, Cott. Women and War: Women’s Lives and Activities, New York: McMillan Press, 2001.
- Ester, Perica. The American Woman: Her Role during the Revolutionary war, New York: Prentce Hall, 1999.
- Milton, Krueger. The American Revolutionary War: Effects on women’s Roles, New York: New York Publishers, 2002.