Academic journal article Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military

Michele J. Nacy. Members of the Regiment: Army Officer's Wives on the Western Frontier, 1865-1890

Academic journal article Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military

Michele J. Nacy. Members of the Regiment: Army Officer's Wives on the Western Frontier, 1865-1890

Article excerpt

Contributions in American History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. ix + 128 pp. Preface, bibliography, four appendixes, and index. $55.00 (cloth) ISBN 0-313-30998-1.

One Sphere, One Army

Divided into an introduction and eight chapters, this book draws largely from the letters and diaries of eleven women as a means of accessing the impact of the army on the lives of officers' wives. Nacy rejects the characterization of army officers' wives as either camp followers or women who differed little from other frontier women. On the contrary, she maintains that their experiences were unique in many ways because of the constant and inescapable presence of the army. There were no "separate spheres" because the domestic realm existed within the public world of the army garrison. The army shaped virtually every aspect of these women's lives: where they lived, when they moved, when they saw their husbands, who delivered their children, and even what type of kitchen utensils they used. Perhaps ironically, yet not surprisingly, these women identified heavily with the army despite the fact that the army did not officially recognize their existence within the garrisons. As the title indicates, most of these women were in fact members of the regiment.

Engaging and concise, this book is in many ways ideal for an undergraduate course on Women in the American West. It contributes nicely to the recent vein in Women's West scholarship, which seeks to convey the diversity of women and their experiences on the frontier. …

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