Why on earth Morgan’s Raiders chose the middle of July to raid Indiana is beyond me. You would have thought ninety-five degrees in the shade with over 50% humidity would have deterred them until at least the end of August. Maybe they were just trying to head North where the weather was cooler?
We managed to survive our first official reenactment. I will confess we participated this time as part of the “hotel militia” as we do not have a period tent as of yet. Thank heavens! I’m not sure I could have taken the heat all day AND all night.
The company laundress during the civil war was generally supplied a tent, hatchet, two camp basins and one ration each day. Everything else she needed to operate she had to supply herself. She even made her own lye soap. Each soldier could pay 50 cents per month for her services, it was optional but most did. In addition to washing the clothes she also performed mending services for an additional fee and cost of materials. A truly enterprising laundress could even spin yarn for sock darning and sell it to the other laundresses. All told, the washer woman as she would have been referred to, made a good honest living often exceeding that of a soldier.
We attracted a lot of attention at the event and even made the newspaper. Children, and some adults, are fascinated with the concept of the scrub board and mangle. Most everyone was enchanted with the little green spinning wheel.
My character is a Scandinavian immigrant who follows her son when he enlists as a volunteer infantryman. Most laundresses would have been related in some way to one of the men in the company.
I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. It would have been awful to stay home when your men went off to war, but to be there with them listening to the cannon fire, washing the blood from their uniforms…
God bless the washer woman.