Doc. 65.-New England soldiers' relief Association.
Final report of the Superintendent.
The labors of this association, which was organized on the ninth of April, 1862, in the hope of mitigating the hardships of the soldier's lot, are now, by the return of peace, and the dissolution of the principal armies of the republic, happily ended. Having sent the last wounded soldier, who needed our aid, rejoicing on his homeward way, and finally closed the doors of our hospital, we resign into the hands which conferred them upon us, the responsible trusts we have undertaken to discharge, and we respectfully tender to those, whose constant and lavish charity has made our labors efficient, a final account of our stewardship. Where such an infinite amount of service was to be done, we could not expect to accomplish all that we might wish or that might be demanded of us; and if those who have placed in our hands the means of usefulness shall be satisfied that we have done all that we could, we shall cease from our labors with grateful hearts, and seek no other praise than that which springs from the recollection of the incalculable good which their generous bounty has enabled us to do. The first efforts of the New England Soldiers' Relief Association were directed to meeting and supplying, if possible, the imperative need of a hospital for sick and wounded soldiers in this great metropolis. They came here crowding back from the battle-field wounded, sick, weary, suffering. For a time the Government of the United States gladly availed itself of our facilities for this service. Then, benefiting by its own experience, it so increased its means of usefulness that we were left to other departments of duty which the Government could not undertake — such as the care of soldiers discharged from service, often houseless, of soldiers on furlough, of soldiers passing to and from the war, and in transit through New York. In addition we had to provide hospital shelter and care for wounded and sick men who were constantly falling into our hands when the regular governmental channels of relief were crowded and overworked. The work rapidly increased until, as our Association was formed “to aid and care for all sick and wounded soldiers passing through the city of New York on the way to and from the war,” our efforts were extended to soldiers from every State. We have, therefore, been enabled to give shelter,  comfort, and cheer to thousands of men. This labor has taxed our resources to an extent, of which, in the beginning, we did not even dream. The vast and novel experience of the years through which we have just passed demanded far more than could be done by the constituted public authorities. To follow such armies as it put into the field, beyond the usual provision for ordinary expenses, or, at most, beyond the most pressing need of sickness and disaster, was not in its power. The love and sympathy of the people, for whom these gallant men suffered, was left to do the rest. To step in between the provision which official authority could make, and the eager readiness of personal affection, to hand over tenderly the subject of disease and suffering from the one to the other, to supply the lack of home and love to those for whom no home and no love waited and watched, was left to the considerate wisdom and the prompt and diligent kindness of hearts glowing with a generous patriotism and Christian devotion. To do this great work the New England Soldiers' Relief Association was organized in April, 1862. A suitable building was provided, and the work placed in trustworthy hands. I am sure that a concise statement of the duties this Association has performed, as the almoner of their bounty, cannot be wearisome or uninteresting to those whose liberal and unsparing charity has furnished the means of all its usefulness. From the ninth day of April, 1862, to the first day of September, 1865, we have received, registered, lodged, fed, aided, and clothed sick, wounded, and disabled soldiers, coming from almost every State, to the number of 86,073:
We also received, welcomed, and entertained New England regiments passing through our city on the way to the field, caring and providing for their wants to the aggregate number of 278,496 men. In like manner it has been our privilege to welcome, of the returning veterans of our glorious armies, 34,383 men, bearing upon their standards the names of those memorable battle-fields upon which they have won such immortal renown.
The foregoing figures are made irrespective of detachments of men otherwise provided for, and of a very large number of outside recipients, whose names do not appear upon our records, but who have, from time to time, received our aid.
This does not include the regiments which have passed through the city from the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the care, reception, and entertainment of which has devolved upon their energetic and able military agent, Colonel John H. Almy, whose entire time has been so industriously devoted to their interests, and whose early and constant co-operation with me has been of infinite value to the association.
We beg leave to call especial attention to our Hospital Record, the value of which will be evident upon a moment's consideration.
Herein we have secured and recorded, from personal visitations at the bedsides of our suffering soldiers in hospitals in and near this city, the names, company, regiment, residence, hospital, date of admission, wound, disease, and final disposition of every soldier who has been admitted within their wards.
The countless inquiries that came to us from burdened hearts, and the eager, painful, and often disappointed search for some single sufferer, led us to the adoption of this complete and systematic record, which has amply recompensed us.
Of the labor and care bestowed upon this portion of our work, some estimate may be formed from the fact that it contains the names, regiments, company, residence, date of admission, wound or disease, and final disposition of 91,609 soldiers.
They were from the following States:
Thus, it will be perceived that, during the three years and four months this institution has been in operation, it has aided, lodged, and generally provided for, within its walls, besides the numerous calls upon its resources for out-door relief, the large number of 86,073.
And it will be seen by the footings of the “General hospital Register” of this association, that the names, companies, regiments, residences, disease or wound, and final disposition of all soldiers who have been admitted to hospitals in this city and vicinity, have been permanently and systematically recorded, to the number of 91,609.
The number of soldiers and regiments received and cared for in their passage to the war, was 278,496--viz.: from Massachusetts, 155,234; from New Hampshire, 33,258; from Vermont, 34,555; from Maine, 55,449.
The number of soldiers received and entertained upon their return from the war, was 34,383.
The total number of sick, wounded, enfeebled, discharged, furloughed, and passing soldiers aided and provided for, was 490,661.
The gross amount of our expenditure during the above period will be seen by reference to the report of Marvelle W. Cooper, Esq., our energetic Treasurer, whose hearty and sympathetic action has been so strongly enlisted for the welfare of the association and its objects.
Amount of expenditures of the New England Soldiers' Relief Association from April 9th, 1862, to its close, September 1st, 1865 (forty-two months), $60,518.29, being an average per month of $1,440.91.
In this connection it is my duty, as well as my pleasure, to acknowledge the attention of the U. S. Sanitary Commission throughout the war, to our interests, and their final action in assuming the debts of the association, amounting to seven thousand three hundred and seven dollars and four cents ($7,307.04).
In this rapid review of the benefits which have been secured by this association, we find that it has been to the passing soldier his “Midway home” to and from the battle-field, where he might tarry for a night, or wait until transportation could be furnished; to the discharged veteran, weary, maimed, and feeble, a place of refuge and shelter; to the homeless soldier an asylum where he has ever been made welcome to the charities it has dispensed, until proper provision could be made for him, or until he has been called to that eternal rest which lies beyond this battle-field of life.
To the anxious ones at home it has been a central bureau of information, always open to all inquiries, and a key and military guide to all matters concerning their interests.
To mention all to whom we are specially indebted for their active sympathy and assistance in accomplishing these results, and to measure out to each his adequate portion of thanks, would be altogether impossible; but, not to make any distinctions, we cannot close this Report without placing upon record in the most earnest manner, an acknowledgment of our constant obligations to the Young Men's Night Watchers' Association, R. B. Lockwood, Esq., President, who have maintained, during four entire years, their most commendable organization, and have never permitted a night to pass without two of their number watching, as faithful nurses, at the bedsides of our brave defenders.
While writing my report I have received the sad intelligence of the death of the former estimable President of this association, Mr. Charles T. Coggeshall, who has passed to that rest the pathway to which he had done so much to smooth for many a sick and weary soldier in our rooms.
To the benevolent and soldiers' relief societies, and to town and church organizations, and individuals in the Eastern States and New York, our thanks are especially due. It is a matter of regret that the limits prescribed to this report render it impossible to make that detailed acknowledgment which the tender charities and forethought of the donors deserve.
This stream of charity has never ceased to flow.
If ever our supplies have fallen short, it has required but a whisper of our needs to bring a most substantial answer.
To Mrs. E. A. Russell, our Matron, also, we tender, on behalf of the many thousand sufferers whom she has relieved, the fullest and warmest thanks — the only limit to whose labor has been her prompt and
sympathetic compliance with the demands her onerous and trying positions have imposed.
Dr. Everett Herrick, too, deserves the special thanks of all who have been interested in our labors, for the unremitting care and marked skill which he has exhibited in his attendance at the hospital.
To S. E. Low, Esq., our former Treasurer, whose protracted absence from the city last year made his resignation necessary, the association is indebted for the ability, prudence, and systematic care with which he so successfully managed our financial concerns, as well as for the hearty, zealous, and earnest co-operation which he gave to all matters which appertained to the interests of the sick and wounded soldiers.
To the Reverend Alex. R. Thompson, D. D., our Chaplain, whose self-imposed and efficient labors at the altar of our institution, and whose devoted ministrations by the bedside of our sick, wounded, and dying men, have won the love of all; and finally, to the Ladies' Committee, whose untiring labors have been only an illustration of that self-sacrificing devotion to the cause which has so marked and characterized the women of Our country throughout the war, we tender the homage of our gratitude and honor.
I cannot close this portion of my report without acknowledging in some feeble manner the opportune aid and counsel at all times so courteously rendered to this association by Major-General John A. Dix, late commanding officer of this Department, in the midst of the multiplied and onerous duties of his position.
It is also eminently due to Brigadier-General R. S. Satterlee, Medical Purveyor of the Department, that a proper acknowledgment should be made for his kindly co-operation in assisting us to provide for the necessities of our soldiers; as well as to Colonel W. J. Sloan, Medical Director, whose humane co-operation in all matters appertaining to the interests of our sick and wounded soldiers was so freely and constantly afforded.
And finally, of Charles A. Stetson, his most estimable family, and the Astor House, I must not forget to remind you, and to return our thanks for their long-continued kindness.
The near proximity of our rooms to the Astor, impelled us at all hours of the day and night to call upon them for the luxuries and delicacies of the market, and especially on the sudden arrival of sick and wounded officers and men, which has been always afforded with an unsparing hand and a hearty will, refusing to receive in return anything but our thanks.
I have said that the labors of our association are now formally brought to a close, but the sacred duties of charity still remain.
Amid the rejoicings which have filled the national heart at the final success of our arms, the restoration of peace, and the eager return of our people to the pursuits of industry, we must not forget the claims of poverty and bereavement heard on every hand.
We cannot forget the soldier's widow, his fatherless child, his childless parents, nor the soldier himself, broken down and disabled in the service of our common cause.
Let us see to it that the debt of gratitude we owe these stricken and mourning children of the Republic is fully paid.
From beneath the simple and unlettered head-boards that stud the battlefields of the rebellion, marking the resting-places of its heroic defenders, there comes an appeal telling us, in language not to be misunderstood, that the work of humanity, so well begun and carried on, is not fully completed, until every crippled and disabled soldier shall have been adequately and tenderly cared for, and until every helpless widowed heart that has laid its dearest offering upon the altar of our country, shall have received such consolation and such relief as it is in the power of a grateful people to bestow.
|District of Columbia||334|
|Vet. Res. Corps||4,234|
|U. S. Navy||74|
|U. S. Troops||2,097|
|U. S. Colored Troops||509|
|U. S. Troops||3,013|
|Vet. Res. Corps||1,326|
|Pris. of War||3,007|
|District of Columbia||39|
|U. S. Colored Troops||1,635|
Frank E. Howe, Superintendent.
The concise and admirable report of our Superintendent, detailing the results of the operations of this association, has prepared you for the final report of its Treasurer. It has been a matter of sincere regret that Mr. S. E. Low, the former Treasurer, who labored with so much zeal and earnestness in all matters connected with the best interests of the association, and to whom it is indebted for the practical business ability and hearty co-operation he gave to all objects promotive of its welfare, was obliged to resign his position, after over three years service, on account of necessary absence from the city. Those who have listened to the simple, truthful testimony which the statistics afford of the benefit and relief which the generous and loyal offerings of our people have enabled the association to dispense to our sick and wounded soldiers, will join me in surprise at the comparative small sum which it has cost through the economy and system which has marked its management.
Thus closing my account for moneys received.
This statement does not include a number of long-standing unpaid accounts of the association for rent, etc., etc., which have been generously assumed by the United States Sanitary Commission to the amount of $7,307 04.
In this connection the fact must not be lost sight of, that the association has been greatly relieved in a pecuniary point of view from the location of several military agencies at its rooms, represented by Colonel Howe, through whom many expenditures have been met in his capacity of Military Agent, which otherwise would have devolved upon the association to pay.
I cannot close this brief summary of the official connection I have had the privilege of holding with this association, without expressing my deep convictions of the great good that has been accomplished in its continued work of love and mercy, of the energy, unremitting labor, and watchful sympathy which has characterized each and every department, and of the earnest, hearty direction, and consummate ability which has marked its superintendence.
Few who are not conversant with the details of an association similarly established upon the basis of voluntary offerings can imagine the amount of unceasing anxiety which its constant demands beget, to meet and adequately provide for the hundreds of cases of suffering and need which are confidently seeking it for relief, apart from the labor and watchfulness its operations continually impose.
The bright record which this association exhibits of its service during the rebellion, is a proper subject of rejoicing not only for the pains that have been assuaged, wounds that have been healed, sick, suffering, and enfeebled that have been ministered to, but as a continued evidence of that sympathy and devotion to the success of the cause, and prompt, timely succor of its defenders, which has characterized us as a people.
|On July 1, 1865, at which time the books and accounts of the association were transferred to my hands, there was in bank a balance of||$3,969 29|
|Donations from that time to the close of the association||1,350 00|
|Amount advanced by Treasurer||130 06|
|The expenditures for the same period, to wit, for the months of June, July, August, and September, have been for rent, salaries, and current expenses||$5,449 35|
M. W. Cooper, Treasurer.
Minutes of the Final Meeting.
A final meeting of the members of the New England Soldiers' Relief Association was held, February 12, 1866, at 57 Broadway, Room No. 12; Hon. Wm. M. Evarts, President, in the chair. On motion of Colonel F. E. Howe, Colonel J. H. Almy was appointed secretary pro tern. Members present--Wm. M. Evarts, Samuel E. Low, Hon. Rufus F. Andrews, L. W. Winchester, Prosper M. Wetmore, Charles Gould, Henry M. Taber, William H. Fogg, Hon. B. W. Bonney, Major J. A. Pullen, Henry A. Coit, Dr. Eleazar Parmly, Elliot C. Cowdin, George Cabot Ward, D. Randolph Martin, William H. Lee, L. I. Howe, Levi P. Morton, Hon. Henry W. Hubbell, Charles A. Peabody, Josiah Hedden, Rev. Alex. R. Thompson, D. D., R. B. Lockwood, Colonel J. H. Almy. The reports of the superintendent, Colonel Frank E. Howe, and treasurer, M. W. Cooper, were presented, after which remarks were made by General P. M. Wetmore, in which he referred to the early history of the association — the great labor performed and beneficent results. He also alluded, in terms of high eulogium, to the devoted labors of the superintendent; to his disinterested love and zeal, which had won the admiration of all; and closed by offering the following resolution, passed unanimously: Resolved, That the grateful acknowledgments and high appreciation of this association are due, and are hereby tendered, to Colonel Frank E. Howe, for his patriotic and humane devotion to the interests of the soldiers, who, disabled and suffering, were the recipients of his thoughtful kindness and care. On motion of Hon. R. F. Andrews, it was Resolved, That the able and comprehensive report of the superintendent be accepted and adopted, and published in the leading New York dailies, including those of the New England States, and, also, that it be printed in pamphlet form. On motion of Hon. R. F. Andrews, it was Resolved, That the thanks of this association are due, and are hereby tendered, to Hon. Wm. M. Evarts, president, for the able and efficient manner in which he has discharged his duties, and for the benefits which the association has received from the influence of his name. Mr. Evarts, in thanking the meeting for the honors done him, briefly referred to his connection with the association, and the pride and satisfaction he had taken in being so honorably identified with its service. In closing, Mr. Evarts pronounced the New England Soldiers' Relief Association dissolved.
J. H. Almy, Secretary pro tem.