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[336] At first, there was much difficulty in establishing the principle of universality of relief. A community was willing to send a box to its own company or to its own regiment, but was less enthusiastic over the question of sending articles to men whom it had never seen. But after it had been shown that, on account of the frequent changes in the position of troops, thousands of such boxes lay in the express offices undelivered until their contents were often spoiled, the wisdom of the provision of a general-relief fund which should send aid wherever needed, came to be recognized.

One great difficulty to be overcome was the widespread belief in some sections that the soldiers did not get the contents of the boxes sent them. Rigid investigation disproved the existence of any considerable misapplication of stores, but the rumor was stubborn, and was believed by many whose zeal naturally was relaxed.

The commission proved its value during the Peninsula campaign of 1862. The transfer of troops to this new and somewhat malarious country soon brought on an amount of sickness with which the Governmental agencies were unable to deal. With the approval of the medical bureau, the commission applied for the use of a number of transports, then lying idle. The Secretary of War ordered boats with a capacity of one thousand persons to be detailed to the commission, which in turn agreed to take care of that number of sick and wounded. The Daniel Webster, assigned to the commission April 25, 1862, was refitted as a hospital and reached the York River on April 30th, with the general secretary, Mr. Olmsted, and a number of surgeons and nurses.

Other ships were detailed, though great inconvenience was suffered from the fact that several were recalled to the transport service, even when they had a load of sick and wounded, who, of course, had to be transferred at the cost, sometimes, of considerable suffering. At the same time, agents of the commission were near the front with the soldiers, offering such

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