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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.
From the beginning of organized warfare until the end of the 19th century European and American armies heavily depended on the services of camp followers. These services included delivery and preparation of provisions and transportation of supplies, which augmented the official military support structure. Camp followers usually accompanied the baggage train and they often outnumbered the army itself, adding to its logistic problems. Camp followers were both a support and drain on an army. They provided valuable services. Soldiers' wives washed, sewed, nursed and even acted as servants. However, camp followers needed to be fed, clothed, transported and guarded. They also had to be policed -after battles and one the march female camp followers could be among the most determined scavengers and looters. In United States history camp followers were an important part of servicing and supplying the army during the Revolutionary War, while there were also camp followers on both the Union and Confederate sides of the American Civil War. However, a major difference between the armies of the American Revolution and the Civil was was the presence of women and children. By the civil war, camps and campaigns included far fewer wives, children and other solders' relatives as part of the military family. Women still served as nurses in hospitals and in other limited support rolls, but were not present in the same way in the American Civil War. 
- Holmes 2001, p. 170.
- It included civilian merchants, contractors, and teamsters, as well as family members such as wives, attached to the troops. Cardoza, Thomas (2010). Intrepid Women: Cantinières and Vivandières of the French Army. Indiana University Press. p. passim. ISBN 978-0-2533-5451-8.
- Holmes 2001, p. 171.