Though the War
for the Union
doubtless exposed the upholders of the National Cause
to extraordinary hardships and sufferings, because of the densely wooded and sparsely peopled regions over which they generally marched and fought, traversed only by roads of an intensity of badness utterly inconceivable by readers of European
experience only, and often submerged by the overflow of the neighboring streams and swamps, it would be black ingratitude to leave unnoticed the mitigations of those hardships through the systematic, gigantic efforts of patriotic generosity.
Of the Soldiers and Sailors who fought for the Union
, all but an inconsiderable fraction were volunteers; and few of these were mustered into service without having received a bounty, varying from $100 up to $1,200 each, but usually between $300 and $800, from his stay-at-home neighbors.
Many of these, as well as some others, were further assured that their families should be shielded from absolute want in their absence by a municipal or volunteered weekly stipend; and these pledges were almost uniformly redeemed.
It must be within the truth to estimate the aggregate thus disbursed at $200,000,000 paid directly as bounties and $100,000,000 more devoted to subsisting the families of soldiers, living or dead, in grateful though partial requital of their heroic patriotism.
But soldiers in the field, still more in the hospital, sorely need comforts and delicacies which no Government does or can provide; and these were supplied to our armies, but especially to their sick and wounded, in a profusion and with a regularity wholly unprecedented.
The Sanitary Commission and the Christian Commission were chief among the agencies whereby the willing heart of the Nation went forth to succor and save her sons writhing in agony on the battle-field or tossing on beds of pain in field or camp hospitals.
A single Fair, held in New York City in aid of the Sanitary Commission, realized — mainly through the gifts of her merchants and other citizens — no less than $1,351,27 5, whereof $1,181,506 was clear income.
, and most other cities, held similar fairs with corresponding results: the aggregate of contributions received and disbursed through this channel amounting to about $5,000,000 in cash and $9,000,000 in supplies.
Those of the Christian Commission amounted to $4,500,000. And these are but samples of a work which, beginning with a subscription in April and May, 1861, of $179,500 in New York to form a “Union defense fund” for the equipment and subsistence of Volunteers, was maintained with unflagging spirit to the close of the struggle-Com. Vanderbilt
's magnificent present of the noble steamship Vanderbilt
, valued at $1,000,000, being the largest individual offering; but many a poor widow or girl doing as much, in proportion to her scanty resources.
The Union Refreshment Saloons, wherein Philadelphia
was honorably conspicuous, for the supply of free meals, baths, &c., to each passing regiment and soldier, and the State Relief
agencies, whereby the “boys in blue” were sheltered, lodged, and fed, in every great city, on their way to or from the seat of War, were among the most judicious of the many arrangements to mitigate the inevitable hardships of the soldier's lot. Very rarely had the thunders of battle been stilled ere the agents and ambulances of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions were at hand, with bounteous provision of ice, stimulants, delicacies, &c., for the wounded; while every hospital and camp was irradiated by their active presence and activity.
That thousands of precious lives were thus saved, and the anguish of tens of thousands soothed and mitigated, is well known; but the sources of these rivers of beneficence were in the far distant rural neighborhoods, where a few women and girls gathered weekly to spend some hours in preparing lint, clothing, preserves, cordials, &c., &c., for the use and comfort of our soldiers in the field.
It would be quite within the truth to estimate the aggregate value of free — will offerings in aid of the National
cause at Five Hundred Millions of Dollars-equal to $100 for each family inhabiting the loyal States of the Union
Nor would our survey of the great struggle be complete without a recognition of the fact that the spirit evinced by the women of the South
, while even more intense and vehement, prompted them to efforts and sacrifices equally practical and beneficent.
Their means were limited, and they unaccustomed to persistent labor; but they gave to their brothers and sons, in field and hospital, every solace for their hardships and sufferings which affection could devise and unwearying devotion provide.
True, they did not (as had often been threatened) seize the arms that dropped from the hands of their vanquished kinsmen and renew the strife; but they did whatever they could to mitigate the hardships of the soldier's lot and insure the triumph of the Rebellion