Today, let’s jump back to the very beginning of our country’s military history!
I’m not going to do a biography of Martha Washington’s life, but I do want to share just a few interesting facts about her attitude and activities while her husband was commanding our nation’s first Army.
Most of this information comes from a fascinating book I’ve been reading entitled Campfollowing: A History of the Military Wife. (not an affiliate link, just fyi)
I hope you enjoy these tidbits about Martha’s life as a military wife:
- Each winter, from 1776 until the war was over, Martha traveled from her home to be with her husband and the troops.
- During that particularly hard winter at Valley Forge, Martha could be found giving medical aid and attempting to boost morale and bring comfort.
- She was known for her kindness, compassion, generosity, and humble personality.
- She gathered other officers’ wives around her and created groups that provided a sense of camaraderie for the women, and served a purpose. These groups knitted and sewed for the troops, made bandages, and cared for the wounded.
- Even though her first marriage left her with plenty of funds, she was not known to “put on airs” and could frequently be found in the encampments wearing homespun and aprons.
- She thought of herself, not as the important wife of General George Washington, but as simply a Virginia housewife, “steady as a clock, busy as a bee, and cheerful as a cricket.”
- Though she could have stayed in the richest of boarding houses, or even remained home at Mount Vernon, Martha chose to live in sometimes crowded and uncomfortable rooms in order to be near her husband. Many military wives would later “follow her example and try uncomplainingly to make a ‘home away from home.'”
- I’ll close with this quote about her:
By her actions and attitude, and probably without being conscious of the effect on future generations, she set the standard for service and volunteerism which the military would exact from wives over the next two centuries.
What an amazing woman she was! And what an example we have in her.