| Ladies Aid Society
The ladies of this town are certainly doing a good work, through the medium of this society. One box of articles has already been sent, and another, larger and more valuable, will be forwarded today. We are informed that several contributions worthy of particular notice have been made to the society, but as we shall soon be able to give the facts in an official form, from the Secretarys report, we will make no further mention of the matter now.
We insert here with a correspondence between the Secretary of this Society and Prof. A. D. Bache of Phil., and also sundry interesting documents from L. P. Rowland Jr. agent of the Christian Commission, Boston, to whom a letter had been addressed desiring information as to what class of articles might be most acceptable from this society. The following letter accompanied the box first sent.
Webster Mass. Sept 30, 1862
Prof. A. D. Bache
Sir, I am directed by the members of the Ladies Aid Society of Webster, to forward to you a box of Hospital Stores, for the relief of the sick and wounded soldiers of our army, a list of which I herewith enclose to you
Mrs. F. D. Brown
List of Articles
11 pairs Drawers
21 Pillow Slips
3 Feather Pillows
1 Chaff Pillow
6 Pairs Thin Pants
9 Thin Coats
12 pairs Slippers
1 Woolen Shirt
11 ½ pounds Bandages
2 ½ pounds Lint
,Corn, Starch, Farina, and Mustard
Phil. Oct.3, 1862
Madam, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of Sept. 30, forwarded to me here, and to say that I have given directed that when the box containing the articles from the Ladies Aid Society is received it shall be sent to the Sanitary Rooms in Washington, and a receipt be sent for them.
Your patriotic exertions will not, I am sure, fail of their just appreciation by the Sanitary Commission, and by the patriots for whom the supplies are sent.
Very respectfully yours
A. D. Bache
Mrs. F. D. Brown,
Sec. Ladies Soldiers Aid Society
The following is in reply to the letter referred to above, a copy of which is at our command:
Tremont St., Boston 10th Oct. 1862
Mrs. F. D. Brown Secretary, ect.
Dear Madam, Your favor, of even date herewith, is at hand. We shall be most glad to forward to our delegates such hospital stores as your Society will provide. We enclose three letters which will aid you in making up your boxes or barrels. No. 1 is from our general Agent in Washington, Nos. 2 and 3 are from other sources. As you have a local paper in Webster, you may if you wish have any portion of them printed.
The Christian Commission is doing a double work, and gaining confidence with the people every day. The fact that we all, from such Societies as your own to the Delegates in the field and hospitals, work for the love of the cause, the holiest and best of the time, the causes all who know the fact to feel that ours is the medium for reaching the suffering heroes of our patriot armies. We shall be able to furnish you with additional evidence of the practical working of our commission from time to time. In the name of such sad yet blessed work, I am Yours Very Truly
L. P. Rowland Jr.
Agent Christian Commission
[Letter No. 1]
Washington D.C. Oct 1, 1862
L. P. Rowland Jr.
Dear Brother, the box containing grapes came safely to hand. The grapes were in excellent condition, hardly one injured, and a more acceptable article could hardly have been sent. O how gratefully they were received by the sick and wounded soldiers. the were distributed by the hands of ladies, in eight different hospitals and enjoyed exceedingly. The destitution among the convalescents is just now very great. They are sent on from the various hospitals, and temporarily sent to camp near Alexandria, and at present number about 18,000. They are poorly supplied with everything, and call loudly aid in shape of substantial comforts. Mr. Cole of your Association, and another brother from Philedelphia, have gone with a load of supplies, and we will continue to send as supplies reach us, and they come in pretty freely. Your boxes contain an excellent assortment
I should like to write to you at length, and tell you how we did at the recent battlefield, but I have no time. One thing let me say, and I think it an important item, we personally distribute our stores to the most needy men, and do not throw them into the general hospital stores, to be used by surgeons, nurses, ect. It is a blessed work. Could you or the kind donors see what we see, and hear what we are permitted, to hear, the God bless you Oh how I thank you and other expressions of gratitude, you too would say it is more blessed to give than to receive. But I have no time to say more.
Yours in Christian Love, Wm. Ballantyne, Agent Christian Commission.
[Letter No. 2]
Washington D.C. Sept 27, 1862
I am convinced that the people all through Massachusetts would be glad to get more explicit instructions in regard to sending boxes to soldiers. I have opened a great many boxes the past six weeks and have had some experience that might be of value to all.
First never pack jellies and fluids in boxes of clothing. I say never because although many boxes which come thus packed are opened in good condition, yet the greater part are injured and some nearly ruined by the breaking of the vessels containing them. Jars and bottles should be carefully packed in a box by themselves, in saw dust or straw. In fastening bottles, I should generally object to the use of wax. Bottles that are closed with a cork firmly driven, and covered with a piece of cloth firmly tied, I have noticed have come to their destination perfectly tight. Fluids that have begun to ferment should not be sent, as no bottle can hold them. In packing a box reference should always be had to the fact that they must be unpacked, and always under unfavorable circumstances: sometimes in the evening or early morning, or just as the teams are starting out upon their tour, or perhaps on the battlefield itself. It is therefore of great importance to those who distribute, that each article should be carefully folded, and if possible placed in layers with those of its kind.
My own experience would teach me this; Plain shirts and drawers of medium size, towels, sheets for single cots, old sheets to be torn up for slings, handkerchiefs, slippers, warm socks, brandy, wine, concentrated foods of all kind, sponge, Castile soap, combs 9wooden pocket combs would be invaluable.) corn starch, tea, cheap iron
spoons, cheap and plain needles- books containing three or four needles a few buttons, some strong thread, ect. The fact is thousands of these things are needed, and it is quantity and durability rather than beauty that is desired.
Now in regard to acknowledgement of boxes received here, every box should be acknowledged but as it is we cannot acknowledge a tenth part of the boxes we open. And for this reason we have in most cases no means of knowing where many came from. Again, we are very busy, time is precious, and we cannot stop to get paper and ink and hunt up a clue to the owners, and so send on an pistol at hazard. There is a very simple plan that would obveate all this difficulty most satisfactorily to all. It is this. Always place on top of the contents of the box, just under the cover, an envelope directed to the donor, postage paid. Let there be inside of it two descriptive lists of the contents of the box, also a blank sheet of note paper on which the one who uncloses the box can state when and where the box was opened, and how the contents will be used. Thus, with but a moments loss of time, the letter dropped into the mail carries a sure evidence of the safe arrival of the box, while one list retained and placed on file for reference at ant time will relieve the parties here very much.
Let me state that I consider medicines for the cure of dysentery among the most useful things that can be sent. This is a very common disease in the army. I have given out many dozen bottles, one dose at a time of blackberry syrup, to hundreds of men, all with beneficial results. Too much of off a reliable article of this description cannot be furnished.
I will also add that magazines and other varieties of literature, packed in large boxes and sent by slow freight, will be very acceptable to the sick and wounded. They serve to divert the mind from wounds and suffering. Reading matter I consider a very important part f our contributions.
As the cold weather advances, warm blankets and quilts for single cots will be in great demand. Indeed there is already an extensive call for them.
I have thus in a disconnected manner, and with great haste, given you a few hints that I consider important: use them as seems best to you Yours Truly
John A. Cole
Agent, Christian Commission
[Letter No. 3]
Newport News, Va. August 26, 1862
I will give you in a few words this morning, the result of the investigation among the sick of this vicinity. I reached fort Monroe last week, Thursday, and next day came here. I find there are about 12,000 sick and wounded now belonging to the Army of the Potomac and to Burnsides army, that have been left here in hospitals. They are for the most part not
dangerously sick, needing rest and good food more than anything else, yet a great many will never be efficient men in any work. I find a great difference in the various hospitals as to the comfort and health of the men. Some wards are in excellent condition, and some are horrible.. For instance at Mill Creek Hospital near Fort Monroe, the men appear to be well cared for, and to be improving; while at the Mc Clellan Hospital, near it, I fear the men are dying for the want of proper food and comforts.
The soup given them yesterday was a miserable concoction of old bacon and musty beans, a well man could not eat it! Yet it is not well perhaps to speak of these things , we cannot help them. But a few of us took some jars of jelly and blackberry preserve, and some soft biscuit from Massachusetts, and passing through the hospital, gave each man some: there were many bright faces, and
grateful thanks were expressed to those at home who were so thoughtful of their wants. At this place there are about 3000 men. Some are quite comfortable, and some are in a sad plight, the latter lying on the floor, wrapped in their old blankets, covered with vermin, and without a clean shirt or pair of drawers.
I had the pleasure of opening three boxes from Boston, containing shirts and cordials that were very much needed. The expressions of delight that followed, would have been gratifying to the kind donors. A library is very much needed at this place. An excellent chaplain has recently been appointed to this post, and he would with great pleasure attend to the distribution of papers and books. There will probably be stationed at this place some 2000 sick men, and a library of some 500 volumes would be very useful. Can you not start the enterprise? I will write to some of my Salem St. friends , who will, I doubt not, send to the Rooms a few books as a nucleus.
We need all the supplies that the kind hearts of old Massachusetts are inclined to send the poor boys. it is hard telling what is needed. A soldier can live, perhaps, if he has nothing but the ground to sleep upon, and his old blankets to cover him; and yet, you and I would say, that when sick with fever or the diseases peculiar to this region, which are carrying so many poor fellows to their graves, that they need a comfortable bed, a quite room, and kind friends with gentle words, and soothing touch, to speak of hopes beyond this world, and to cool the burning brow and parched lips. And yet do all that we can, how infinitely below all this will be the comforts we can proffer them. Every box of clothing, every jar of jelly or preserve, every bottle of stimulating drink, that is sent them is needed.
I would say in conclusion that I find nearly every soldier ready to converse upon serious things. They have thought much. I understand the sentence The field is white for the harvest as I never understood it before. This is a very healthy locality. I shall probably remain in this vicinity until needed more in other quarters, and then will make arrangements for the safety of all packages sent to my care.
John A. Cole
Agent Christian Commission