Thus, we see that women in the nineteenth century had been conditioned to believe that their role in society was strictly defined and confined to the hearth. Men and women in civilian society were segregated emotionally from each other by the rigid gender role classifications of the time, with the consequence
that "women developed elaborate and lifelong female support networks within the domestic world" (Nacy, 10). In essence, by fulfilling their duty in the domestic sphere women of this era not only achieved personal fulfillment but also discharged their civic obligation as well.
As we will see shortly, however, this traditional role played by women in the nineteenth century was sharply at odds with the roles that they would have to play in the Frontier Army. While some of the core values remained the same, women in the Army had to confront a situation that challenged and modified the norms of domestic life. The nineteenth century "cult of domesticity rested on the presumption that the boundary between the public world and private life was not only distinct but also unbreachable" (Nacy, 11). Army life, on the other hand, was in many ways the antithesis of this idyllic view of domestic life. As we will see, the Army determined where women lived, how often they would move, what their particular residences would be, and also (indirectly) who their friends and acquaintances would be. The Army had its own customs and traditions that created particular expectations that impinged directly on the officers' wives social obligations.
The army officers' wives first inclination that life in the Frontier Army would be far different than what they were expecting typically came during the jostling, bouncing journey out west. "Most army wives came from affluent backgrounds and were educated but, like the trail, their eastern lifestyles of comfort and gentility would also fade into the distance...