In the supply inventory for my ancestors local militia unit are listed "a dozen housewives"? I am puzzled if I am missing the meaning of this, were these ladies who travelled with the unit?
Answer: In this case the term "housewife" is actually referring to a sewing kit, with needle, thread and extra buttons. The quick repairs of a soldiers uniform would be aided by this little sewing kit. I have seen it mentioned from time to time in supply lists from the 18th and 19th centuries.