Life and death were harsh realities in army camps and isolated frontier forts, and laundresses participated in the full range. In spite of lacking formal education, many laundresses acquired the knowledge and resources they needed to face the challenges that came their way – whether it be doing laundry, birthing and raising children in primitive conditions, handling first-aid emergencies, providing companionship and sex to soldiers, or preparing bodies for burial and consoling the bereaved. Laundresses were often the only women available to take on roles that have traditionally fallen to the feminine gender, and they did what they could.

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


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