Laundresses could go on strike and did so at Camp McDowell, Arizona, in 1872. Though little is known about the small rebellion, the laundresses apparently refused to wash officers’ clothing. The women were not allowed to draw rations for the duration of the strike. This raises some questions since a laundress’s assignment entailed washing the clothing of enlisted men only. Officers’ laundry was outside of their duties, though they often completed it through special arrangements. One wonders how the commander justified withholding laundresses’ rations for not completing a task that was discretionary.

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


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