Camp-follower is a term used to identify civilians who follow armies. Camp followers have historically been informal army service providers, servicing the needs of encamped soldiers, in particular selling goods or services that the military does not supply—these have included cooking, laundering, liquor, nursing, sexual services and sutlery.[1]


From the beginning of organized warfare until the end of the 19th century European armies heavily depended on the services of camp-followers composed primarily of women and their off-spring. These services included delivery and preparation of food provisions and transportation of supplies, which were later replaced by a military support structure.[2] Camp-followers usually accompanied the baggage train and they often outnumbered the army itself, adding to its logistic problems.[3] The term may also be applied to someone who scavenges after a battle. In United States history, Molly Pitcher was considered a camp-follower during the Revolutionary War, while there were also a number of camp-followers on both the Union and Confederate sides of the American Civil War.

See also

  • Tross Medieval German camp followers
  • Vivandière - an account of sutlers and canteen-keepers



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