Civilian Class Membership
The Brigade’s Civilian Class Membership, or CCM, is open to men, women, and children not wanting to portray soldiers but wishing to be involved in the greater 18th Century setting of the “Life and Times of the Common Soldier of the War for Independence, 1775-1783.” Assuming generic personas such as soldiers families, officer’s wives, refugees, hired workers and artisans, these members represent the camp followers and trades people who attached themselves to the armies of the day either to provide needed services or to receive much needed relief from poverty. Still other members chose to demonstrate and display their talents in period crafts as tinsmiths, leather workers, potters, spinners and limners, to name but a few. There is even a period theatrical group, the American Company of Players.
Centuries before, wives and whole families began following their soldiers into war, and the practice was still commonplace during the time of the Revolution. With almost every army on the march, in almost every camp and in about every works and fortification one would have found civilians. Whether by choice or necessity, many wives stayed with their soldier husbands who went to war. Many had no other recourse. Faced with an uncertain future, going with the army was a better option than privation. Such soldier’s families exchanged services such as washing, mending, nursing and cooking for rations.
It was not only the common soldier’s wives who followed the any but many officer’s wives went, as well. Numerous records and accounts indicate many ladies lived with their officer husbands. Educated women wrote some of the most detailed accounts of the period.
Not every man and woman with the army was a soldier or camp follower. Men were often hired as drovers, batteaux-men and artificers. Laundresses, merchants and nurses were hired for certain periods of time. Desperate and dispirited people attached themselves to a camp on their own for protection or to keep body and soul together. Some were refugees, displaced by the advance or occupation of the opposing army, and seeking a safe haven. Others were simply “hangers-on” — the group most likely to cause trouble. They commonly claimed rations to which they were not entitled, or suttled liquor without authorization. The penniless and desperate were those most likely to engage soldiers in convenient and sometimes temporary marriages.
The Brigade offers children matchless experiences. Brigade children can explore a world of activities and educational experiences geared to their age level. Through the Brigade’s Children’s Program youngsters can learn to make their own toys, small clothing articles and accessories. They can play period games and visit with craftspeople to learn about the trades. They can even earn money hawking penny cards and shoe shines. All activities are designed to make a Brigade child’s life richer.