“BRATS”–Our Unique Origins

Wonder where we (Brats) came from?  Where do we find the origins to military dependents?
       In the 18th century, as an incentive to retain soldiers and officers in the Royal Army, families were allowed to accompany their fathers on military campaigns.   An example?   During the American Revolution and specifically in the Summer of 1777 expedition of British General Johnny Burgoyne to capture Albany, NY (and thus divide up the Northern American colonies) it is known that approximately 2,000 dependents accompanied the 8,000 British and Hessian Soldiers.  A Hessian officer’s wife shared that she and her three children were a part of this expedition.
       Into the 19th century the British identified these dependents as British Regimental Attached Traveler – and that is where we get the word “BRAT”.
      Specifically with the U.S. military, it is known that after the American Revolution in the 1780s and 1790s, families lived with their soldier fathers/husbands at West Point, NY, which then housed military supplies.   An early reference to U.S. military dependents was an Army order dated in 1821 which provided each post chaplain with one full daily meal ration per child under his care.  (Chaplains were school teachers in those days.)
     Today….a number of meanings have popped up to describe the acronym BRAT.   Among these include, “Born, Raised And Train” (from Rick Connell’s song that served as the intro to Bratcon Radio), “Born Rough And Tough.”
    Regardless of which definition….it means you are one of us!

Have a terrific day!  Joe Condrill, Brat Liaison

                                              Museum of the American Military Family
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