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 stimulants and medicines. In Wilmington, much work of the same sort was accomplished. In every town through which soldiers passed, the women were always ready to feed the hungry and nurse the sick without formal invitation. There were few organized convalescent homes, but their place was taken by almost the universal custom of private families taking convalescent soldiers to their homes. In Richmond, the so-called ambulance committee was very efficient in proportion to its scanty means, but the needs were so great, and the scarcity of men and money so discouraging, that it did not work so like a well-oiled machine as did the Sanitary Commission. Bibles and tracts were distributed by various organizations, and an attempt to furnish other reading matter was made. Another organization which did good work among the Northern soldiers was the United States Christian Commission, organized by the Young Men's Christian Association. Its purpose was primarily to improve the morals of the soldiers and, incidentally, their physical condition. It distributed thousands of Bibles, millions of copies of religious books, and many millions of religious newspapers and tracts. In addition, it bought many copies of the better class of magazines and sent them to the soldiers. In the permanent camps, free reading-rooms were established, and in a number of these State newspapers were kept on file. Writing-materials and postage-stamps were furnished free to the soldiers, and the agents never ceased to urge the men to write home and to send a considerable part of their pay. This commission set up a number of coffee-wagons in competition with the sutlers, many of whom sold liquor, and also established ‘special diet-kitchens,’ where needed, for the sick and convalescent. The commission estimated that it had expended in money and in supplies more than six and a quarter million dollars.
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