The presence of women on 19th-century western military posts might strike modern readers as surprising. After all, these were days long before the U.S. Army offered women positions within the nation's military academies, officer corps, or enlisted ranks. Yet women were there, most often in the roles of wife and mother. Some officers, and less often enlisted men, brought spouses along on frontier duty. Interestingly, the army only officially recognized those women who worked as laundresses. Officers' wives consequently existed in a rather ambiguous position, neither officially recognized nor totally overlooked. All of these women, along with the occasional single woman who worked as a laundress for enlisted men or as a servant in an officer's home, shared the challenges of western travel and domestic ...

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