Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Battle of Corydon Indiana, 2011

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.

christinesig

11 comments:

Whosyergurl said...

Just think how rough and raw her hands would have been! Cool pics. Looks like fun. (Albeit hot!)

xo, Cheryl

Karen Anne said...

I can remember a scrubbing board and a mangle in my grandmother's basement. Plus a Victrola. Dang, I wonder where all that stuff went. l was only about 8 when they moved, so I didn't have enough brain cells to say, Don't throw it out, I'll take it :-)

Tree Hugger said...

For about 5 years I did Civil War reenactment here in Atlanta. My Mom is from Linton, Ind. and my dad is from Georgia. I loved it when our company had to be the Yankees!! I was always the wash girl too!
Right now I'm blogging from a journal of John Frank Lester from Sullivan Co., Indiana. He was the 1st Corp. for the 59th Regiment, Company E - Infantry Indiana Volunteers.
http://thecivilwarjournalofjohnflester.blogspot.com/

YarnKettle said...

Wow that is amazing! You choked me up quite a bit when you mentioned washing the blood out of the clothes, especially the blood of your loved ones.

Nancy K. said...

What a wonderful post!
Thank you for sharing what had to be a fascinating adventure.

Milah said...

I'm glad you had a respectable job, ahem, not all women did. : )

I'm also glad you didn't suffer a heat stroke! Gosh those were a rough few days.

I have a print of the old washing machine my grandma used. Someday I'll post about it.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Neat...except for the July in Indiana part ;-).

Connie said...

My son is also a reenactor and he hand sews uniforms as a side business. He will be attending an event soon in VA. I've visited a few of the sites when they were local (before moving here) and I was captivated by the atmosphere of it all. I think I could get into it except I would have a hard time managing the heat and the cold with tent sleeping. I love the rest of it tho.

Mary Ann said...

My husband and I met because of our love of Civil War history... but we are TOO OLD to re-enact... I admit I can't do the elements, but more power to them! I love the whole living history aspect.

Karen Anne said...

Mary Ann,

If you can move, you're never too old :-) You tell those young whippersnappers that.

Marilyn Robertson said...

I enjoyed reading your post - I had not known of the company laundress position before. She was one busy woman to be sure!