Daily Life During the Revolutionary War
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What kind of houses did the colonists live in?
The Peale Family
by Charles Wilson Peale
Just like today, houses during the Revolutionary War were different depending on where people lived and how much money they had. Poor people often lived in one room homes. Wealthier people would live in two story houses which typically had four rooms downstairs and two upstairs. Many homes had the kitchen in a separate building in order to try and prevent the spread of fires.
Homes during colonial times didn't have running water or electricity. They got light from the fireplace and from candles. Bathrooms were in a separate little building called the "privy" or "necessary".
Did the kids go to school?
Not all kids went to school during the Revolutionary War. More children attended school in the northern colonies than in the south. Often children learned to read and write from ages 6 to 8. After that, usually only wealthy boys continued with school. They attended common school and Latin school where they were taught by a man called the schoolmaster.
The few colleges in the Americas were closed during the war. Also, many schoolmasters enlisted in the army leaving their schools without a teacher.
What type of clothing did they wear?
People who lived during the American Revolution wore similar styles of clothing. Most of the clothing was sewn at home by hand.
Women wore long dresses covered with an apron and a tucker. They also wore mob caps which were pleated cloth bonnets with a ruffled brim. Young girls wore the same style of clothing as the women.
Men wore breeches, stockings, a cotton shirt, a vest, and a tricorn hat. They also wore leather shoes. Wealthy men wore stylish wool coats with shiny buttons. They also wore powdered wigs. A lot of wealthy people had their clothes imported from England. Boys wore the same style of clothing as the men.
What did they eat?
Most Colonial families grew vegetables and hunted for their own food. In the city, they would often get food from relatives that had farms or trade for it. They had milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains from the farms. They ate lots of stews with meats and vegetables.
Cooking took a long time and was a lot of hard work. The women spent a good part of their day cooking. They had to build a fire, milk the cow, pick vegetables, prepare the meat, and bring in water from the outside well. The big meal of the day was usually served around 2pm in the afternoon.
Did the women and children see battles?
The Revolutionary War was fought wherever two armies met up. This was often near towns or on people's farmland. Many people fled their farms as the armies arrived. Sometimes people would wake up to the sounds of cannon fire or musket shots.
Boys could join the army at age 16 as soldiers and even younger as fife, drum, or bugle players. Boys as young as 7 years old joined the army as drummers or message carriers.
Women and girls took part in the war taking care of the soldiers. They cooked for them and sewed their uniforms. They also acted as nurses taking care of the wounded. A few women, called Molly Pitchers, even took part in the fighting.
Interesting Facts About Daily Life During the American Revolution
- A lot of kids learned to read from the New England Primer which had a rhyme for each letter of the alphabet.
- Most people only had two or three sets of clothing and they only bathed a few times a year.
- Medicine was very primitive during these times. Doctors still believed that cutting people to let their bad blood out would help them to get better!
- People were always working, even the kids. It was considered a sin to be lazy.
- Some common jobs or trades during the American Revolution included blacksmith, farmer, shoemaker, tailor, cooper (barrel maker), wheelwright, milliner (fabric maker), and printer.
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