Called the "red armed women of the west", laundresses scrubbed their way into history as they took on the task of keeping the army their whitest and their brightest. The laundresses were the only offically recognized women on the post. Laundresses received fifty cents per month from each soldier she washed clothes for. Since a laundress at Fort Scott typically washed clothes for 15 men, her salary averaged 7.50 per month.She also received free medical services and rations from the commisary. Laundresses could get extra pay for mending, caring for officers' children and other non-specified services.
These pages contain information about who the laundress was, laundry methods, soap making, etc.
At Fort Scott, evidence indicates that the laundresses had rooms in the barracks. Today, in the reconstructed dragoon barracks, one room is restored as a laundress quarters.
Those who were married might have stayed in tents with their husbands close to the riverbank, a situation which made their job easier. These rows of tents were often referred to as "soap suds row".
Did You Know?
Fort Scott never did have a wall around it. It was built upon a bluff which had three steep sides and opened up to prairie in a gradual slope on the south. Many forts were not built with walls at the time; the fort with a stockade is more a product of Hollywood mythology than actual fact.