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Street Scenes by Speelman / Impressions artistiques de Louisbourg par Speelman

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Sieges
More Siege Questions

Were there Camp Women at the sieges at Louisbourg?

There has been some research done for other colonies on "Camp Women." A limited number of wives of enlisted men were allowed to travel with troops on campaign. They provided services, such as cooking, basic medical care, and carried some supplies. Research on the question remains to be done for the troops participating in the Louisbourg sieges.

In the British army, there were two types of "camp women" who would follow the army on campaign. First, there were a limited number of wives who were officially recognized and actually received rations in exchange for services such as cooking, laundry, care of wounded, etc. Their numbers were limited roughly to the proportion of four to a 60-man company and six to a 100-man company although there were variations over time. While many of these unions were probably not blessed by the church, these women were in recognized marriages.

The second type were unofficial camp followers, who had no official status and had to follow the troops as best they could without assistance from the army. These would have included soldiers wives who were in excess of the number of officially recognized wives as well as prostitutes.

During the first siege, the documents are very silent on the presence of women. As a hastily established militia force drawn from a society with strong Puritan routes, it is quite possible that no women followed this land force on campaign. It is probable that some soldiers' wives would have come to Louisbourg following its capture.

During 1758, we know from orders that women and children did accompany the troops. With 14 battalions of infantry, at presumably 10 companies each, the official wives (and children) would have numbered over 500 people. Hopefully research will confirm this.