Boston men are all in a blaze, and all the way down, through all the grades, every body is stretching every nerve and wondering why he had been so indifferent up to this time. In the first place, on arriving in the city, after six months absence, not unnaturally I went home and found a brother, not eighteen, had just enlisted, and could not be dissuaded from going to the wars by any advice in regard to physical incompetency for the service, or frightened from the ranks by any picture of what might be experienced on the battle-field, in the hospitals, on the march, or in imprisonment. He was determined to go, and his mother, who six months ago was somewhat apathetic, and thought the rebels had better go than to fight about it, and rejoiced that her boys were not a mark to shoot at, was now sending him off willingly, and wishing she had more to send, and his grey-headed father — I really believe his eleven children were the only hindrances which prevented him from shouldering a musket and going too. Then I went from home, where I had found such a conversion of sentiment, and called on the old friends and acquaintances, and found them all stirred up too. They were satisfied that we had all been asleep thus far, and were just awaking to the magnitude of our dangers and our duties, and couldn't understand why they had always been so indifferent and inactive. From seeing the friends and acquaintances I went out to observe the more general indications of the public mind, and found every body I met with an excited face on. In the cars and on the street, in the stores, and at the hotels, every one was insisting that we had not, that the Government had not, appreciated the magnitude of the work to be done, and every one appeared like a man who, coming suddenly to realize the immense importance of something, wonders that it has not always seemed to him as great as it does just then. In the afternoon, at two o'clock, I found that all the stores were closing up, and every one was either devoting himself to getting up and keeping up the excitement, or yielding to and being carried along by it. Meetings every afternoon. A large decorated platform in front of the Old South Church was filled constantly, and the crowds in front made passing difficult; and the Common heard a great deal of eloquence, and saw a great deal of enthusiasm during the past week. Sunday came, and the great heart of Boston was full. The most appalling rumors of our losses in killed and wounded were in circulation, coupled with the calls for lint-bandages and sick supplies. Whether true or not, it was circulated, and had its influence, that after the first call for surgeons and supplies was responded to but slowly, a message came calling “for God's sake” to send on shirts, and bandages, and surgeons. Then reports went around that seventeen thousand of the wounded had been already brought into Washington, and the call seemed no ordinary appeal to human sympathy and patriotism. Gov. Andrew sent notice around to all the churches of the city. Many of them suspended immediately with a short and fervent prayer; service for the afternoon was abandoned, and the churches were opened for the receival of the contributions for the wounded. All the church-going population of the city thus heard the appeal, and never were human sympathies more promptly or liberally responsive to the call of suffering than yesterday in Boston. The world might halt to look upon so sublime a spectacle as was presented yesterday in the uprising of the people, one and all, in hearty and quick response to the relief of the wounded who had fallen in the late battles before Washington. The call had been made, and the congregations separated, each one wending his way diligently to his home, and thinking on every thing which he might contribute. Many a mother, whose family could poorly spare it, contributed towels, table-cloths, sheets, and shirts, and the more competent poured in their full proportions, sometimes in bales, of whatever could be of value in the emergency. All these supplies were gathered together in various parts of the city, but the principal depot was at Tremont Temple, where the crowd of people bringing bundles and baskets, and the teams bringing in empty boxes for packing, and the express wagons loading up the packages which were ready for transportation, created a scene of activity which is very unusual of a Sunday in this quiet city. The cars upon the horse railroad were stopped and not allowed to pass, and the sidewalk was roped to prevent the travel, and give the contributors an opportunity to bring their gifts into the treasury. On entering the Temple hundreds of women and girls were seen busily and quietly at work, some tearing into strips old garments or sheets, while others were stitching together the pieces and rolling them up. Others were preparing lint, and there were many who had done this work at home, and sent in their lint and bandages all made and ready to be packed. Outside the Temple there was started a subscription-paper, on which all sorts of amounts, ranging from ten cents to two hundred dollars, were subscribed, and the whole amount thus put down was five thousand two hundred dollars. There was a lack of boxes, and many merchants opened their stores, and after sending out what empty boxes could be found, poured out upon the floor the contents of those which were full, and sent the cases to the Temple. Wines and liquors of every description and in surprising quantities were sent in, and one merchant contributed a whole wagon-load of packages of Bay rum. Such quantities were sent in that no lack of stimulating materials will occur for a long time. One merchant sent in enough material for three thousand pounds of lint, and I believe that an almost fabulous amount of bandages will have been prepared — enough to wind the whole army in cotton cloth if it should be necessary.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.