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

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

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

By Jennifer J. Lawrence

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.

  • • 978-1937147-10-5 • trade paper • 160 pp •  $18.95ORDER NOW
  • • 978-1937147-09-9 • limited edition hardcover • 160 pp •  $29.95ORDER NOW
Jennifer J. Lawrence

Jennifer J. Lawrence

Jennie Lawrence was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. She moved to Wyoming as a young adult and has called it home since. She has a degree in Agricultural Communications from the University of Wyoming. After a mid-life career change, she obtained a bachelorБ─≥s degree in Education from the same institution and a masterБ─≥s from Walden University. She enjoys sharing her love of nature and science with students of all ages, as well as her passion for army laundresses and women of the West.

Her father instilled in her an interest in the American West. She also enjoys horses and holds a special place in her heart for Shetland ponies. She is a strong supporter of young people, not only in the classroom, but also in 4-H and rodeo.