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Soap Suds Row: The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802-1876

ISBN: 9781937147105
Publisher: High Plains Pr
Publication Date: 2016-04-01
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  • Regular price $30.22

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Women have always followed the troops, but military laundresses were the first to
be carried on the rolls of the U.S. Army. They traveled and lived alongside the
soldiers during two of the most important conflicts in United States history: the
Civil War and the war on the western frontier.

A few laundresses made names for themselves. Laundresses who got written
up in records, diaries, and newspapers were often involved in colorful or unfortunate
circumstances. No, they were not all loose women. Some were; however, most
were simply brave, adventurous, and unorthodox women.

They marched with the army for hundreds of miles, carrying their babies and
tugging small children behind them. Among the first non-native women on lonely
frontier outposts, they waited in frightened huddles in camps and forts for their
soldier-husbands to return from dangerous campaigns.
Susie King Taylor, born a slave, taught both black children and soldiers to read
and write between washing piles of laundry. A Mexican-American War laundress
was eulogized as able to whip any man, fair fight or foul; shoot a pistol better than
anyone; and outplay or out-cheat any gambler. A well-known laundress from the
Indian Wars period, Mrs. Nash, kept a secret that remained undiscovered until her
death. Little note was made of laundresses
who worked hard day after day,
like Maggie Flood, who faced
special family challenges
on the frontier.

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