By Anne Bruner Eales
Relocating from the restrictive chrysalis of "civilized" culture and Victorian viewpoints within the East, the ladies who their military husbands to forts within the West made an expedition right into a freedom of throught and motion that the majority of them had by no means skilled or maybe imagined. "No one drawn to the historical past of the yank West or women’s background should still omit this well-written, rigorously researched, accomplished therapy of an issue that prior students have principally ignored." —Herman Viola, writer of "Exploring the West"
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Extra info for Army wives on the American frontier: living by the bugles
She stressed the insufficient pay ... pointed out the months of loneliness ... the lack of comforts, even the prospect of going hungry at times; she spoke of dangers ... " Libbie advised Katie, "If you have courage, stay. "9Katie was brave enough for life on the frontier but was somewhat afraid of her family's reaction to the fast engagement and marriage. " retorted her sister Mollie defiantly. "They have led shallow, sheltered lives . . "10 While some women did return east and others would not travel to the frontier in the first place, most army wives took the advice of Maj.
John Gibbon decided to give his wife, Fannie, driving lessons and wrote to her family in Baltimore that by the Page 21 time they got to Fort C. F. Smith she was going to be very adept at handling a four-in-hand team. The family of Dr. R. H. McKay, an army surgeon, found a bear cub in the tree above their campsite. They made a bed for him in the ambulance with the family and chained him to it while moving during the day. As soon as they stopped for the evening, they released him. The cub would roam the camp, entertaining everyone and stealing whatever he could get his paws on.
Arrival on the frontier was not only a blow to their physical well-being, it also was an assault on their self-esteem. Military wives discovered that the harshness, danger, and new experiences of life in the West challenged eastern concepts of womanhood, civilization, and class in the interests of adaptation and survival. As with their husbands, a strong sense of duty kept these women living with newspaper tablecloths, toadstool carpets, and plaster ceilings that collapsed just as they were serving dinner to seventeen people.
Army wives on the American frontier: living by the bugles by Anne Bruner Eales