During the Civil War, hospitals required a large number of laundresses. The surgeon in charge decided whether the laundresses worked on hospital grounds or if they took the hospital laundry back to their tents. If the laundresses worked on the grounds, shelter might consist of buildings, tents, sheds, or trees. A Confederate surgeon in Kingston, Georgia, did not provide his laundresses with any facilities at all. Because his grandmother and mother always washed outside with no shelter, he expected his laundresses to do the same and gave them no protection from the weather. […]

Laundresses were often pressed into service to nurse the sick and wounded. This was particularly true during the Civil War. Laundresses from both the North and the South assumed nursing duties in the field and in hospitals. After a battle, when a large number of wounded suddenly needed care, laundresses were pressed into duty as nurses. Few laundresses received recognition for nursing, but they did what needed to be done.

Jennifer J. Lawrence, Soap Suds Row: The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses, 1802-1876 (2016)

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