WAR RELIEF IN EARLY AGES. BATTLES OF THE HEBREWS. OFFICIAL EGYPTIAN PHYSICIANS. A GREEK RELIEF EXPEDITION. ROMAN MILITARY HOSPITALS. THE KNlGHTS HOSPITALLERS OF THE CRUSADES. LATER EUROPEAN CONFLICTS. SUFFERING IN OUR REVOLUTIONARY DAYS. NAPOLEONIC WARS. NEW INFLUENCES. FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE AT SCUTARI.
MAN for centuries remained in too primitive a state to exercise much care of the wounded because of any humane purpose, and to depict the sufferings of the sick and wounded during military conflicts previous to the Crimean War would be but to repeat again and again tales of their misery and horror almost beyond belief. Even under modern conditions the words of such an experienced soldier as General Sherman are not too strong to describe them"War is hell!" It is a hell that only one who has been through the shock and brutality of battle, who had burrowed for months in the trenches with the soldiers, who has walked the interminable wards of suffering in the great military hospitals, who has seen the pitiful destruction and desolation of cities, towns, villages and countryside, and who has witnessed the wretchedness of shivering, half-starved prisoners, can comprehend.
No history, be it traditional or authentic, antedates war. There is many a war story in the Old Testament, but when the ancient Hebrew laws ordained that on the fall of a city, though the women and children became the spoils of the captors, "thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of thy sword, " and even more drastic measures for the "cities of these people which the Lord, thy God, doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth, " the wounded held no place in its history. The lines of some old ballad, caught in a phrase of Genesis, breathe the spirit of Cain in his descendant, 'Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech, for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. " Abraham armed his household and pursued after the Elamite invaders, smiting them by night as they fled to Horab, and bringing back their plunder, his brother Lot, the women and the people, but not a word of any wounded is there in this first Biblical story of battle. In those old tribal wars it was victory or death, and not a note of tenderness or mercy sounds in Deborah's exultant song. Later, as the kingdom increased in size, mighty hand-to-hand contests took place. Abijah had "an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand men;" and the army of Jeroboam numbered eight hundred thousand men, being mighty men of valor. The army of Judah prevailed against the hosts of Israel, and according to the ancient chronicler "slew them with great slaughter so that there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand men. " The story paints the picture with numbers of Oriental magnitude.
It is so old-the dead were dead so long ago-we do not stop to question of the wounded. But compare the humanity of the battlefield of three thousand years ago with that of this mighty conflict of the twentieth century. Appalled as we may be by man's seeming retrogression his laggard steps have yet moved onward in the march of moral evolution.
The civilization of Egypt was in certain respects more advanced than that of the Hebrews, and medicine was no mean science in the land of the Pharaohs. Physicians in the earlier history of that country were employed by the State, paid from the public treasury, and the soldier being held in high regard, received their care without charge.
There were men skillful in the art of removing arrows and of giving first aid during the Trojan War, and de Quincey says of Homer that his knowledge of wounds would have fitted him for the post of house surgeon in a modern hospital. The laws of Lycurgus ordered surgeons to the rear of the right wing during battles, showing that they held a definite position in the army at that time. Xenophon reports that Cyrus commanded his surgeons to care also for the enemy 's wounded, though some modern critics are skeptical of this anticipation of the Red Cross spirit in the sixth century before Christ.
The earliest account of medicine to be found in authentic history is connected with the siege of Chyrrha, on the Gulf of Corinth, near Delhi. A pestilence broke out among the besiegers, and Nebrus, a celebrated physician, and great-great-grandfather of Hippocrates, was hastily summoned. He came, bringing with him his son Chrysus, also a famous physician, and a vessel laden with medical and other supplies provided at his own expense. By his skill and devotion the dread disease was arrested. Even Alexander the Great, who took a lively interest in his soldiers' welfare, employed physicians only for his own and his friends' benefit, leaving the common soldier to play the part of surgeon for himself, whereby he gained not a little rude skill. Before the invention of gunpowder wounds were caused by swords, spears and other sharp weapons, so that they were in the nature of cuts or bruises, and were not therefore complicated to treat.
In the day of the Roman Empire the care of the sick or wounded man depended upon his worth as a slave to his wealthy owner or his value as a gladiator to a public that delighted in barbaric sports. The life of the soldier was an asset to the State, and seriously wounded men were placed in the care of families or of women of noble rank. The Roman military doctors were in special favor with such generals as Julius Cæsar and Germanicus, while Trajan and Alexander Severus visited personally their wounded soldiers, just as to-day royalty visits the military hospitals. In fact, the military hospital itself dates from the time of the Roman Empire. One of these was built at the right of the Pretorian Gate, and on the left at a sufficient distance to prevent the sick from being disturbed by the noise, were the veterinarian hospital and the blacksmith shop. Such a military hospital was sixty feet square and contained room for 200 men. Crude as all medical knowledge then was, it commanded respect, the doctors held military rank and received double pay; men in charge of bandages and instruments were their assistants, while others occupied positions somewhat corresponding to our hospital orderlies.
With the degeneracy of Rome the army medical service also degenerated, and quacks like Indian medicine men invaded the camps. In the old-time battles no quarter was given or taken, and this, together with the fact that the life of a captive was far worse than death itself, explains results where the dead so far exceeded the wounded in number.
The consideration for the soldier was not confined to the Romans, for Tacitus gives accounts of the wives of the Germans dressing the warriors' wounds. A touch of the Red Cross spirit manifested itself after a battle a thousand years ago, when Haldora of Iceland called to the women of her household, "Let us go and dress the wounds of the warriors, be they friends or foes. " In the first century of the Christian Era hostelries for pilgrims sprang up along the routes of travel. In these both poor and sick found refuge. It was not, however, until about the tenth century that hospitals for the sick became separate institutions, and even then many of them were lazarettos, or leper hospitals. It has been estimated that in the thirteenth century there were thirteen thousand lazarettos throughout Christendom, but in the fifteenth century leprosy had so greatly decreased that these were generally turned into pest-houses or regular hospitals.
It is with special interest that the Red Cross turns back the pages of history to the famous military nursing orders. They, like the Red Cross, sprang from the battlefield, for the Crusades gave them birth. At Jerusalem in the hospital of St. John, the Almoner, we find the cradle of the famous order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, orders that still exist. Fortunate were the sick and wounded who in those early days fell into the hands of these good Knights. In 1187 at the siege of Acre the German soldiers made a temporary hospital of the sails of their ships order to care for the sufferers from disease or wounds.
On the side of the Moslems, Saladin had his own medical staff, including apothecaries. With true chivalry he permitted the Knights Hospitallers to minister to their own wounded within the walls of Jerusalem without interference.
A woman's branch of the Hospitallers founded the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene in the same city, at the head of which was Agnes, a noble Roman matron. These devoted men and women we may claim as ancestors of the Red Cross nurse. On the breasts of their armor or on the shoulder of the long mantle appeared the cross, sometimes of white, sometimes of gold, sometimes of red, sometimes of one form and sometimes of another-but always the cross. These old Knights Hospitallers, though fighting for the Holy Land, never failed to give devoted care to all the sick and wounded, whether Christians or Moslems, thereby manifesting what to-day is the pervading spirit of the Red Cross-Neutrality, Humanity. The quaint old seal of the Order shows a person stretched out on a bed with a cross at the head and foot.
Driven out of the Holy Land, Rhodes became for a time the home of the Hospitallers, who continued to be subject to the Moslem attacks. In view of the present use of dogs for the finding of the wounded, it is interesting to note that the Knights kept a fine breed of dogs in the castle to aid in the rescue of Christians and give notice of the approach of the enemy. An old picture shows the kindly Hospitallers ministering to the victims of an earthquake in 1480.
After the capture of Rhodes, the Order established itself at Malta. The account of the aid given by the Knights after a frightful earthquake in Sicily and Calabria in 1783, reads like a report of similar work to-day. The galleys were laid up for the winter when the news of the great calamity reached Malta. So intense was the desire to send immediate assistance that in a night they were made ready and gotten off, filled with a generous cargo of supplies. One-half of these were given to Reggio, but at Messina the commandant, unwilling to be obligated to the Knights, declined aid, saying that the King had provided all that was necessary. The ship, therefore, returned to Reggio, where the stores intended for Messina were landed.
The hospital of the Order at Valletta was close to the harbor so that the sick and wounded could be easily removed from the ships. The building still exists, with its great wards, 503 feet long and 30 feet high. The walls were covered with hangings and pictures, the beds were canopied, the utensils were of silver; and it is reported with some pride that a clean supply of linen was provided every fortnight. Old pictures represent the wounded Knights in large, luxurious, apartments, their servants standing by the bedside. Oriental rugs lie upon the floor, and the cross of the Order is embroidered upon the bed covering. At the head of the bed are boards on which were written the doctor's orders. Special wards were devoted to incurable or repulsive diseases, and the seriously wounded were placed in upper rooms whose windows were tightly closed, as sea air was considered dangerous producing a result that required strong perfumes to overcome some of its many evils. It has been said of these famous Knights, "Not their riches nor their power nor their military prowess have given them their distinguished place in history, but their deeds of mercy to the sick and wounded. "
Save for the volunteer aid of these nursing orders, there seems to have been no attempt made to provide any nursing care in time of war. If the battlefield lay near some Convent or town, the religious sisterhoods and other kindly women of the neighborhood gave what help they could to the wounded within their reach. During the Thirty Years' War and the War of the Fronde the Sisters of Charity founded by St. Vincent de Paul, nursed the sufferers and also the victims of famine and pestilence, those two grim handmaidens of the God of War.
When the despots of Italy were mutilating their wretched captives and throwing them out in a helpless condition to the mercy of the elements, or brutally butchering men, women and children, parading through the street asses ladened with the limbs of their victims, or torturing most horribly political prisoners, hunting them with boar hounds and watching with fiendish pleasure the dogs tear to pieces these luckless persons, consideration for the wounded must have been a virtue quite undreamed of. Nor had they to dread only the cruelty of man, for the Abbé Suger, historian of Louis the Fat, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, records that "as many as possible the wounded were carried o in litters, and those who could not be removed were left as a prey to the wolves. "
Here and there through history are meager stories of the work of patriotic and humane women for the sick and wounded of military conflicts. Queen Isabella of Spain in the fifteenth century during the siege of Granada had six great tents with beds set up, and called upon surgeons and physicians to attend the sick and wounded. The soldiers of Aragon and Castile gave to the establishment-perhaps the first of the kind-the name "Queen's Hospital. " When the strict Castilian courtiers questioned the propriety of her visiting the hospital in person she is said to have replied: "Let me go to them, for they have no mothers here, and it will soothe them in their pain and weakness to find that they are not uncared for. "
Arras, around which lately there has been so much fighting, was the scene of Jeanne Biscot's labors for the sick and wounded in the siege of that city in 1654. She and two of her friends obtained the loan of a large building where they established a hospital and continued their services throughout an epidemic. During the siege of Quebec the Sisters nursed both the French and English. Thy busied themselves knitting long stockings for the bare knees of the Highlanders, which Parkman says the men accepted with gratitude, though at a loss to know whether charity or modesty prompted the act.
It is interesting to note that progress was slowly being made toward more humanitarian arrangements. In the eighteenth century we find several instances of agreements between commanding officers of the armies. The generals at the head of the French and Austrian forces accepted an arrangement suggested by Percy, the French surgeon-general that the hospitals should be considered as sacred asylums, and that their location be plainly indicated so that the soldiers could readily recognize them. Each army was charged with the care of these hospitals, even after losing the country in which they were situated. The armies also were to favor and protect mutually the service of the hospitals in the countries that they occupied. The soldiers when recovered were to be sent back to their respective armies, with escort and safeguard.
This same Percy undertook to form a permanent relief corps in the French army. He says: "With the desires springing up continually from the disgusting assemblage of famished and vagabond nurses; disheartened by the neglect of my request; expressly grieved at seeing so great a number of soldiers die upon the fields of battle, whose lives might have been saved and whose limbs might have been preserved by the aid of some convenient and well-organized method of transportation; and seeing also that it was necessary to have, as near as possible to the lines of battle, men expressly designated for the relief of the wounded, rather than leave this care to the soldiers (who too often seized such an opportunity to desert the ranks), I took it upon me to organize a regular corps of soldier nurses to whom I gave the name of 'the corps of stretcher bearers. ' I chose one hundred soldiers from among the most courageous, strongest and most skillful. I had them uniformed, and as soon as they were completely equipped I put them to work. Very soon the condition of the sick and wounded, before so neglected and abandoned, was entirely changed. "
Unfortunately for the famous surgeon's humanitarian purposes the detachment which he had clothed and equipped, without any expense to the government, and sent to Paris as an example, was ordered to return to Madrid and disbanded. He was blamed instead of thanked; but it had already proved its value, and was eventually adopted in 1813.
During our own Revolutionary War our care of the sick and wounded was no more advanced than that in :Europe, and in addition to this we are familiar with the fearful deprivations and sufferings undergone by our forces. Hunger and nakedness were followed by disease, The entire army during the war numbered in all on our side 231, 791 men. Before the war was over many a time the men were without food to eat, their clothing hung in tatters; without shoes they made long marches, leaving on the ground the tracks of their bleeding, naked feet. The officers fared little better than the men, and there is a story of a dinner that no one was allowed to attend who confessed to the ownership of a whole pair of trousers. A condition of famine actually existed at Valley Forge, and the men were so enfeebled that it was difficult to find enough to carry on the regular camp duties. When this was the condition prevalent in the army it can be easily comprehended what little attention was paid to the sick and the wounded. It is true that this distress appealed to the women of the country then as it does at all times of war. Associations were formed for the aid of the soldiers. Great quantities of shirts were made, for which the women bought the materials that they themselves cutout and sewed. Twenty-two hundred of these the Marquis de Chastellux saw in their rooms in Philadelphia, and on each shirt was the name of the lady who made it.
Lafayette, attending a ball in Baltimore, expressed his inability to enter into the gayety of the occasion because of his consciousness of the suffering of the soldiers. Aroused by this comment of the great French general, the women of that city flew to work, and like those of Philadelphia made a large amount of clothing for the soldiers out of materials donated by the men.
The women of New York had their own association formed particularly for the purpose of knitting socks and preparing other comforts for the soldiers.
All these efforts were directed for the aid of the soldiers in general, and not in any particular way for the unfortunate sick and wounded, whose sufferings in the primitive hospitals, with inadequate supplies and attendants, were pitiful.
How little, though, could all such occasional, unsystematized efforts mitigate the sufferings of the thousands and tens of thousands of the victims of war ! Seventeen days after the battle of Leipzig men were found who had died not from their wounds but from exposure. It was the Napoleonic Wars, however, which first aroused the women of Germany to the realization of the need of organization for relief purposes. A number of them banded together for the care of the wounded. Napoleon himself recalled many of the sisters of St. Vincent de Paul who had fled to England during the Revolution, as he realized the value of their services to his soldiers, and decorated one of their number with the Legion of Honor.
But new and forceful factors were soon to lead to a remarkable change in conditions. These factors were the telegraph and the press. The majority of those who witnessed the horrors of the battlefield were they who had taken part in the struggle and accepted conditions as the grim and terrible fate of war. Not so, though, was it with those at home, to whom the telegraph, through the daily press, brought the story of the misery, the agony of the thousands of wounded, for they saw among the suffering men some husband, father, brother, son or other dear one of their own.
Sixty years ago the cry, coming from a war correspondent in the Crimea, rang out one morning in the London Times, "Are there no devoted women among us able and willing to go forth to minister to the sick and suffering soldiers of the East in the hospitals of Scutari? Are none of the daughters of England at this extreme hour of need ready for such a work of mercy ?" What had happened! Great Britain and France had united in 1854 to aid Turkey against Russia. The forty years which had passed since Waterloo had deadened the memories of the horrors of war. So proudly the English fleet with thousands of brave soldiers had set sail. The nation acclaimed with joy the victory of Alma, but upon the heels of victory came the reports of the uncared-for sick and wounded men. The whole country was aroused. Mr. Sidney Herbert, then at the head of the War Department wrote to the one woman in England whom he believed competent to relieve the situation; and while the post was carrying his letter to her, one from her to him offering her services crossed it on the way. When this, her country's call for help, arose, Florence Nightingale responded before it was received in official form. The supreme appeal of her life came to her, and she went to the Crimea. With her went thirty-eight nurses, called by Punch "The Nightingales, " but by Kinglake "The Angel Band. " French Sisters were caring for their own soldiers, and one of these, Sister Marie Theresa, was wounded at the battle of Balaklava, later at Magenta; and again at Worth, when a grenade fell into the hospital, she, without a moment 's hesitation, picked it up, carrying it a long distance, until it exploded, and injured her seriously. Three hundred of the Russian Sisters of the Exaltation of the Cross, founded by the Grand Duchess Helene Pawlowna, and other devoted women went to Sebastopol. Nor were these women of the Slavic race lacking in courage, for many-of them ventured forth upon the battlefield under fire to carry in the wounded.
Such are the exigencies of war, which at the best can hardly be deemed a humane institution, that consideration for the wounded always becomes a secondary matter. Train loads of these unfortunate men are side-tracked for hours that reinforcements and ammunition may be rushed to the fighting line or long trains of the commissary department with necessary supplies are moved forward. Suddenly improvised, slow and poorly arranged hospital ships are utilized for the evacuation of the wounded at sea. At the time of the Crimean War it took generally eight days for the hospital ships to make the trip from Balaklava to Scutari, and during the first four months of the war out of every thousand that embarked seventy-four died on the voyage.
The little group of English nurses reached Scutari November 4, 1854, just before the battle of Inkerman. In the vast barrack hospital lay four miles of human misery beyond all words to describe. Into these crowded wards and amidst these appalling conditions poured the human débris from the field of Inkerman. The buildings were little better than pest-houses. Open sewers underneath breathed their poisonous odors up and through the corridors and wards. Reporting this condition, Miss Nightingale later told the Royal Commission of 1857: "It is impossible to describe the state of the atmosphere of the Barrack Hospital at night. I have been well acquainted with the dwellings of the worst parts of most of the great cities of Europe, but have never been in any atmosphere I could compare with it. "Most of the usual and necessary hospital supplies were unprovided, while comforts were entirely lacking. The sheets were of coarse and heavy canvas, so that the wounded and emaciated men begged to be left in their softer blankets. Surgical instruments and medical supplies were inadequate. Under these horrible conditions it is not surprising that dysentery, cholera and typhus likewise claimed many victims. In February, 1855, so desperate was the situation that forty-five per cent of the cases in the hospital died.
The human problems connected with the medical personnel also presented their difficulties for solution. Of the surgeons Miss Nightingale wrote to a friend, "Two of them are brutes and four are angels, for this is a work that makes either angels or devils of men and women, too. "
If among the nurses few were found belonging to the latter category, there were some whose limitations in the midst of such suffering and misery were pitiful, if occasionally amusing. Miss Nightingale quotes a speech of one of them: "I came out, Ma'am, prepared to submit to anything;to be put upon in every way, but there are some things, Ma'am, one can't submit to. There's the caps, Ma'am, that suit one face, and some that suit another; and if I'd known, Ma'am, about the caps, great as was my desire to come out and nurse at Scutari, I would not have come, Ma'am. "
Nurses at that time were not only without the training now required of the regular profession, but, they had never been subject to the excellent discipline of the training school-a discipline particularly suitable to military conditions. Then, as to-day, the war office was overwhelmed with offers to go out to nurse from women influenced by sentiment and emotion but totally unfitted for the hard and serious work. A certain number of these added to Miss Nightingale's difficulties. To go out to nurse the sick and to be told that the wash-tub required her services was not conducive to increasing the enthusiasm of a would-be nurse. There were laundries, diet kitchens and storerooms to be established which were quite as important for the relief of the patients as any of the actual nursing work. In the midst of all this labor of organization with over two thousand three hundred sick and wounded filling the hospitals, word would come to prepare for several hundred more. Mattresses would be hastily stuffed with straw and placed on the floor to receive this new contingent of exhausted and often dying men. Days of incessant activity followed: hours spent kneeling by the suffering soldiers to dress their ghastly wounds; and then in the quiet of the night would come the lonely vigil beside some dying man. Operations were sometimes performed without anaesthetics in the open wards, and until Miss Nightingale devised a screen a wounded man awaiting his turn might witness his neighbor die under the surgeon's knife. Fever, erysipelas and gangrene especially among the Russian soldiers added their miseries to the situation. In this terrible and chaotic crisis Florence Nightingale stands out above all others because of her powers of organization, her ability to bring order out of chaos. Her sympathetic comprehension and her tact commanded respect from officials who had seriously doubted the advisability of the presence of women in military hospitals.
All the immense labor of organization never blotted out of Miss Nightingale's nature the tender, devoted nurse. From sundown until daybreak it had been the custom to leave the wretched victims in darkness and alone. This changed with her coming, and when at night she passed through the long wards, her little lamp in her hand, to minister to the suffering men they kissed her shadow as it fell across their pillows. She had lit the light of a broader humanity. Longfellow in his poem of "St. Filomena" says of her:
On England's annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,
That light it ray shall cast
From portals of the past.
A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
HENRI DUNANT. THE BATTLE OF SOLFERINO. MEASURES FOR TURNING THEORY INTO PRACTICE. THE TREATY OF GENEVA. OUR SHARE IN ITS ADOPTION
GREAT as were Florence Nightingale's individual labors to alleviate suffering, they accomplished still more valuable work for humanity at large by their inspirations to others. When she was eight years old there was born at Geneva, in 1828, a boy who was destined to be the initiator of a remarkable extension of her humane efforts in the hospitals at Scutari. Henri Dunant was of French-Swiss descent. His father, Jean-Jacques Dunant, of an old Geneva family, was a member of the Council of that city. The ancestors of his mother, Antoinette Coladon, were driven to Switzerland in 1560 from Bourges by the religious disturbances which brought so much strife and bloodshed to France. The boy, when still a child, interested himself in works of benevolence. As he grew to manhood the story of the Quakeress Elizabeth Fry's labors for prison reform aroused his enthusiasm, Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" stirred his soul, and Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimea awoke within him a strong responsive chord of sympathy. He had traveled much and was always an ardent advocate of peace and universal brotherhood.
In 1859, when Dunant was thirty-one years old, the forces of Sardinia under Victor Emanuel, with the allied army of France under Napoleon III, sought to throw off of northern Italy the yoke of Austrian supremacy. The young Swiss, traveling as a tourist, but doubtless burning with zeal to aid the many suffering wounded, witnessed one of the great and terrible battles of history. Forty thousand killed and wounded was the deadly harvest of Solferino. No treaty then protected the medical service of the armies. That of the defeated Austrians retreated with their forces, while with the pursuing allies went nearly all of the French and Italian surgeons, leaving almost deserted of medical care the victims of this appalling slaughter.
Dunant, in his "Souvenir de Solferino, " pictures the battle, the awful scenes of suffering and of death as only a man can do who has lived through the horrors of such an experience.
The battle of Magenta, on June 4th, opened Milan to the French army. Back the Austrians retreated, followed by the French and Sardinian armies. "The morning of June 24th dawns with the sound of battle. Three hundred thousand men are face to face. Fifteen miles long stretches the battle line. The bugle notes and the roll of the drum resound the charge. At three in the morning the allied army corps are marching on Solferino and Cavriana. By six o'clock the fire becomes more furious. In the warm June morning the Austrian troops in compact masses march along the open roads under the fluttering banners of black and red. The brilliant Italian sun glitters on the polished armor of the French dragoons and cuirassiers. In the burning midday heat still more furiously the battle rages. Column after column fling themselves one upon the other. Piled high lie the dead on hills and in ravines. Austrians and Allies trample the wounded under foot, kill each other and fall upon their bleeding comrades. Drunk or mad with blood, the butchery goes on. Over the field of slaughter dashes the wild cavalry charge, the horses' iron hoofs beating down the wretched men. Back and forth the conflict rages. Villages are taken and retaken; every house, every farm, the scene of battle and of struggle. Back of dark, threatening clouds, the sun is lost. A tempest of wind and lightning arises; icy rain sweeps across the field. As the shadows of the night begin to fall the tumult of the battle dies away. Exhausted men sink down to sleep where they stand or search for some missing comrade. The silent darkness is broken by the groans and cries for help of the wounded men. "
Hastily improvised hospitals were established in nearby villages, but the greater part of the wounded were taken to Castiglione. On the rough and dusty road jolted the merciless carts with their pitiful burdens. Many died by the way, their bodies being cast out along the roadside. Into the city poured this endless procession of misery, and the whole place was soon one vast hospital. Churches, barracks, convents, and private homes were filled with the wounded; they overflowed into the open streets and lay upon the stone pavements of the piazza, where straw had been hastily scattered. Hither and thither rushed distracted citizens, seeking doctors to minister to those within their walls. Side by side on the stone flooring of the churches lay friend and foe alike, -French, Austrians, Slavs, Italians and Arabs. Their agonizing cries, in many languages, rent the air. Their curses and their prayers mingled together. Burning with fever, with thirst unquenched they appealed in vain for water, for the hands were too few to minister to them. There a man writhed in the agony of tetanus, and one with shattered jaw motioned dumbly with his hands for aid. On the straw-covered altar steps lay an African chasseur, leg, thigh and shoulder wounded. For three days he had had nothing to eat. He was covered with mud and clotted blood; his clothing was in rags. When Dunant bathed his wounds, gave him a little bouillon, and wrapped a cover about him he lifted his benefactor's hand to his lips with an indescribable expression of gratitude. At the church door was a Hungarian, whose piercing cries for a doctor were incessant. His back and his shoulders torn by shrapnel, were masses of red and quivering flesh. His body was swollen, green and black-horrible. He could rest in no position. Dunant dipped lint in fresh water and tried to make him comfortable, but gangrene had set in and death soon ended his suffering. Not far away lay a dying Zouave, weeping bitterly, needing to be consoled like a little child. On the other side of the church were wounded Austrian prisoners, defiant of aid. Some tore off their bandages that their wounds might bleed afresh but others received with gratitude the help that was given them.
Dunant gathered a number of the good women of the city into a volunteer corps, whose tireless, if unskilled, services brought some relief. Noticing that he made no distinction of nationality, they followed his work, giving the same kind care to all, and went from one to another repeating with compassion, "tutti fratelli" (all are brothers)
Visiting Brestia, where many other thousands of wounded had taken refuge, he describes still further the suffering he witnessed there-operations performed without anæsthetics, by surgeons with untrained assistants. The poor young soldier, weak from suffering and quivering with fear and anguish, is carried to an operating table, his heart-rending shrieks, and then the silence-as if Nature herself could bear no more and had brought merciful unconsciousness to the wretched man.
Read scene after scene from Dunant's "Souvenir de Solferino, "and wonder if nations must continue to settle their differences or protect their so-called honor at such a price.
Dunant asks, "Why have we thought well to recall these scenes of grief and desolation, to recount such lamentable and gruesome details, and to draw such vivid pictures of despair ? "
He answers this question by another: "Would it not be possible to found and organize in all civilized countries permanent societies of volunteers which in time of war would render succor to the wounded without distinction of nationality ?"
Here had the Treaty of Geneva its first inception, and the spirit of the Red Cross began to quicken into life.
A month after the Battle of Solferino, full of the misery he had witnessed and anxious to do something toward mitigating such sufferings in the future, Henri Dunant first enunciated in the salons of the Countess Verri Vorromeo at Milan the idea of a committee of succor everywhere being made permanent and also of the internationalization of the charity, with the adoption of a special sign recognized by all. Greatly to his regret, the Milan society organized for the relief work was dissolved at the end of the war.
On his return to Geneva he wrote his famous account already referred to, a brief pamphlet, but one that has had a remarkable result. It was widely distributed throughout Europe and made a profound impression. Victor Hugo wrote to the author, "You armed humanity and served liberty. "The commander-in-chief of the Swiss army in a letter said, "It is necessary that it should be seen from such vivid examples as you have recorded what the glory of the battlefields costs in torture and in tears. The world is prone to see only the brilliant side of war and to shut it eyes to all of the terrible consequences. "
Dunant followed up the success of his pamphlet by visiting many European countries and interesting many persons in his plans. The Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Frederick Charles of Prussia, promised the support of this famous order. The King of Saxony gave his endorsement, adding, "Any nation that does not join in this work of humanity deserves to be banned by public opinion in Europe. " Napoleon III was an enthusiastic sympathizer.
The proposal to adopt and common and uniform flag to mark hospital formations was most welcome, for at this time each country had a different flag for its medical service. In Austria it was white, in France red, in Spain yellow, and in other countries black or green. The soldiers knew only the hospital flag of their own country, and were ignorant of the others.
For many years there had existed in Geneva a Society of Public Utility, whose efforts were devoted to the furtherance of philanthropic and humane work. This Society of which Monsieur Gustave Moynier was president, appointed a special committee, which sent out a general invitation for a conference to be held at Geneva in October, 1863, to consider the question of volunteer aid for the medical service of armies in time of war and also the neutralization of its personnel. Occasionally special temporary agreements had been arranged between nations at war whereby hospital formations and their personnel were neutralized and protected, but there was no international agreement to this effect.
In the letter of invitation for the conference sent to a large number of public-spirited men the Committee for the Relief of Wounded Soldiers said:
"The Geneva Society of Public Utility, complying with the desire expressed by Mr. Henri Dunant in a book entitled 'A Souvenir of Solferino, ' organized among its members a committee charged with working towards its realization. "
"This committee in turn thought that the best course to pursue in order to carry the ideas of Mr. Dunant from the domain of theory to that of practice, would be to bring about a meeting of those persons who in the various countries have at heart the philanthropic work in question, in order to examine within what limits his suggestion is practicable, and to devise measures for carrying it out if possible. "
With this letter was sent a proposed draft of a proposed agreement for discussion. The somewhat lengthy name suggested for the conference was, "An International Conference for Investigating the Means to Supplement the Inadequacy of Medical Services of Armies in Campaigns. "
At this first conference, at which fourteen European countries were represented, we learn from Mr. Moynier's address that an objection sometime still made to Red Cross work had already been raised: "It has been stated that instead of seeing expedients to render war less murderous, we should do better to attack the evil at its root and to work toward universal and perpetual pacification of the world. To hear our critics it would really seem that we are attempting to do nothing less than take part in legitimate warfare by regarding it as a necessary evil.
"Is this criticism serious? I cannot believe so. We certainly desire as much as, and more than, anyone that men shall cease to butcher one another and that the shall repudiate this remnant of barbarism which they have inherited from their forefathers. With the aid of Christianity, they will succeed in doing this sooner or later, and we applaud the efforts of those who work to bring about better relations. However, we are convinced that it will be necessary for a long time yet to reckon with human passions and endure their baleful consequences. Why, then, if we cannot absolutely and immediately do away with them, should we not seek to lessen them? Charity commends this course, and it is because we have listened to the voice of charity that we are here. I cannot understand wherein our attempts would seem to be calculated to retard the dawn of the era of peace, of which we see a glimpse. Moreover, I am convinced that in organizing assistance for the wounded, in addressing earnest appeal to the inhabitants in behalf of their misery, and in describing, for the needs of our cause, the lamentable spectacle of a battlefield, unveiling the terrible realities of war and proclaiming them in the name of charity, a thing which it is too often the interest of politics to keep hidden, we shall do more for the disarmament of peoples than those who resort to the economy arguments or declarations of sterile sentimentality.
"An attempt has also been made to dissuade us from our project by telling us that we are pursuing a chimera, that we are swimming in Utopia itself, and that after wasting our time on dissertations regarding the necessity of remedying the present state of affairs, we would encounter insurmountable obstacles.
"Gentlemen, the committee which has called you together has never failed to realize the difficulties of execution which awaited it; but it has been sufficient for it that its design should not be a dream in its own eyes, in order not to abandon its plan without subjecting it to a decisive test. The organization of volunteer hospital attendants, as sketched in 'A Souvenir of Solferino, ' aroused much criticism, but this book contains a noble idea which deserves close examination. It was after maturely and deliberately reflecting thereon at the invitation of the Geneva Society of Public Utility that we formulated in a draft agreement the propositions which we have invited you to come and discuss with us. "
Mr. Twining, an eminent English philanthropist, though not present at this meeting, sent a letter containing a number of suggestions, one of which was startling in its nature, providing that a fatally wounded man on the field of battle might have his agony put an end to in some merciful way. This recalls a story told by Ambroise Paré in his account of the Campaign in Turin in 1537: "Being come into the city I entered into a stable thinking to lodge my own and my man's horse and found four dead soldiers and three propped against the wall, their features all changed and they neither saw, heard nor spake, and their clothes were still smouldering where the gunpowder had burnt them. As I was looking at them with pity there came an old soldier who asked me if there were any way to cure them. I said 'No. 'And then he went up to them and cut their throats very gently and without ill will toward them. Seeing this great cruelty, I told him he was a villain;he answered that he prayed God when he should be in such a plight he might find someone to do the same for him that he should not linger in misery. "
Mr. Twining's other proposals were that there should be a Sunday truce like the "Truce of God" of the Middle Ages; truces for the burial of the dead and the removal of the wounded; regulations as to conduct toward wounded and prisoner; reprisal; the fate of places taken by assault; the rigors to be permitted toward hostile populations, according to their more or less hostile attitude. Certain of these suggestions were later adopted by the Treaty of Geneva and others by that of The Hague.
Prince Demidoff, of Russia, called attention to the attitude toward prisoners of war. He said:
"There is no doubt but wounded persons deserve the most energetic demonstration of interest and the promptest assistance. But after them there is another class of unfortunates, who, being more or less ill treated by marches and combat, suffer a moral agony, although their life is saved, which it is the duty of a Christian spirit to console. I speak of prisoners of war. These latter are dragged off into exile, far from their country, into regions where everything is unknown to them- habits, customs and language Without doubt the humaneness of all government has done much in recent times to relieve the condition of prisoners. The aid which is afforded them in order to insure their material existence is generally humane and adequate, moreover, the hospitable spirit of all nations receives with respect and pities those who have been betrayed by the fate of armies. However, these exiles, like all other people on this earth, do not live on bread alone. Pictures of their country and of their families follow them on to soil where everything is mute to them. They therefore feel intensely the need of a sign or souvenir which will recall to them the things which they miss.
"During the great wars which preceded 1815 a prisoner of war was practically a forgotten man. The difficulty of communications across regions which were disorganized by war caused it to be considered as a rare fortune to receive a letter, though often delayed several months; but nowadays there are no longer any countries which are inaccessible. Now the mail is a prisoner's consolation. It gives him courage and resignation, it is a thing which reconciles him with exile and makes him judge without hostile prejudice the country where fate has thrown him. With the assistance of means which were less perfect than to-day this work of enabling the prisoners of war of belligerent nations to correspond with their country was undertaken by me during the war of 1854. Being established at Vienna, at the Imperial Russian Legation, of which I formed a part, I had had from the beginning of hostilities a quite natural thought of affording fraternal and anonymous protection to those of my compatriots taken prisoners who were interned in France and England. With the help of a devoted agent residing in Paris, and who was continually visiting all of the depots, with the pious assistance of the two heads of the Orthodox Greek Church at Paris and London, who gave the prisoners the encouragement of their words and charity, the assistance given to these expatriated was as complete as possible. Letters, news from their families, remittances of money, useful information and material relief sent from afar by sympathetic patriotism-all of this contributed toward relieving their situation under the benevolent authorization of the respective governments. As soon as this work in behalf of my compatriots had attained success, I hastened to extend it to the prisoners of nations hostile to Russia and scattered throughout the various parts of the Empire. The most generous facilities were afforded to me. A general centre of correspondence was established at Constantinople, and until the war ended and the prisoners were sent home the latter were enabled to profit by the benefit of a simple and practical idea, which, to sum up, had imposed upon me only very slight sacrifices.
"This is what I take the liberty of commending to your consideration, when the noble thought which you have expressed comes up for discussion in centres where Christian philosophy and universal philanthropy prevail. "
This suggestion of Prince Demidoff was not taken up at the Geneva Convention, but later by the Treaty of The Hague, which recommends the formation of bureaus of prisoners of war, Red Cross Societies agreed to make this aid part of their official duties. At present there are doubtless nearly a million prisoners of war, and the importance of aid being given them must be realized. If consideration for the wounded, even in humane countries, is secondary in war, the prisoner is very apt to receive slight consideration.
The deliberations of this conference at Geneva were expressed in resolutions to the following effect:
That in each country adhering to the proposed agreement a committee should be formed to co-operate in time of war with the military medical service, each committee being organized as its members deemed expedient; in time of peace a trained personnel should be organized and supplies collected;the aid of the societies of neutral nations might be invited; the volunteer societies irrespective of the country to which they belong should wear distinctive badge-a red cross on a white ground. The conference also recommended the neutralization of hospital formations and their personnel.
Because of the success of this conference, the Swiss Government in 1864 addressed an invitation to twenty-five sovereign States to send representatives to a diplomatic convention to be held that year in August at Geneva. At this convention the United States was represented informally by our Minister to Switzerland, Mr. George C. Fogg, and associated with him was Mr. Charles S. P. Bowles, European agent of the Sanitary Commission.
In the letter authorizing Mr. Fogg to attend the convention, the Secretary of State said:
"The object of the proposed congress is certainly laudable and important, and the Department sees no objection to your being present on the occasion. You are, therefore, authorized to attend the meeting in an informal manner, for the purpose of giving or receiving such suggestions as you may think likely to promote the humane ends which have prompted it. It is hardly necessary to add that your presence at the congress would be improper if any of the insurgent emissaries of the United States in Europe should be permitted to take part in its proceedings. "
Many of the military representatives at this convention were incredulous as to the possibility of securing the adoption of a treaty based on the recommendations of the conference of the year before. Fortunate it was for this great project that a representative of the Sanitary Commission was present
Mr. Bowles in his report, says:
"But I was able to prove that this same 'mythical' institution-the United States Sanitary Commission had long since met with and overcome the difficulties which some delegates were now predicting and recoiling before; had long since solved, and practically, too, the very problems which they now were delving over. Moreover, I had just arrived from the scene of these labors in the United States, and with the battlefield, hospital and burying ground freshly pictured in my mind, could speak to them but too earnestly of war, the disease of all nations, and its known or proposed remedies. I had brought with me from the United States the latest reports and most valuable publications of the Commission, and a number of photographs from life of the field relief corps with its men, wagons, horses, tents, and their arrangements and action. These life pictures, books and practical proofs, produced an effect as great as it was valuable. To many of them, earnest men seeking for light, with their whole hearts in the interest of a long suffering humanity it was like the sight of the promised land. They had been working in the dark, and this was the opening of a window, letting in a flood of light and putting an end to all darkness and doubt. "
A remarkable spirit of harmony characterized the convention, for, although discussions were often intense and opinions differed widely, one of the delegates reports: "Yet the charm was never broken by an unkind word or feeling between any two of its members. " The treaty which was eventually adopted is generally called the Geneva Treaty, but sometimes the Red Cross Treaty. It provides for protection for hospital formations and their personnel in time of war. Out of compliment to Switzerland the Swiss flag with its colors reversed-a red cross on a white ground-was adopted as the worldwide insignia of humanity and neutrality. This treaty revised at a convention held at Geneva in 1906, includes under its protection the Red Cross or volunteer aid societies which have received official sanction from their respective governments. The Treaty of The Hague extends to naval warfare the provisions of the Treaty of Geneva.
At a banquet given for the delegates to the original convention of 1864 there was in the center of the table a large piece of confection, representing a fortress with its garrison and sanitary workers, distinguished by the Red Cross brassard, pursuing their functions. The tower was surmounted by small silk flags of the Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva, around the central flag, a red cross on a white field, the emblem of neutrality, just adopted by Congress. "After the first toast, this flag was taken from its place by the President, who, turning to me as the representative of the United States Sanitary Commission, presented it as a token of appreciation of the Commission's labors for the good of all humanity. To this kind and unexpected compliment to our Commission and to the accompanying speech of the President, I replied as well as I could; but the act, the sentiment, the acclamations of surrounding friends, and, withal, the proud consciousness of a deserving cause, almost overwhelmed me. The full outburst of a chorus from 'William Tell, ' given by the Geneva Musical Society in the hall outside, though it covered my retreat, did not add to my equanimity; for from the windows of the dining hall we could almost see the spot on which the Republic's hero shot Gessler. These associations and the music by Rossini sung by Swiss compatriots upon the historic ground made an inexpressibly powerful impression upon me. Those of us who amid darkness, doubt and the exultant sneers and insults of aristocratic despotism had been forced to watch from abroad the second great struggle for the maintenance of our country's liberties will best understand the force of pent-up feeling which events like these at Geneva could not have failed to let loose. "
As the noble work of Florence Nightingale had been the inspiration for Henri Dunant's and his collaborators' splendid achievement, so had the practical labors of our own great Sanitary Commission helped to lay the foundations for the Treaty of Geneva.
A PRECURSOR OF THE RED CROSS. ORIGIN OF THE SANITARY COMMISSION. PREVENTIVE MEASURES. OFFICIAL OBSTACLES, INQUIRY AND ADVICE. REMARKABLE DEFEAT INVESTIGATION. HOSPITAL INSPECTION. LEAFLETS BY SPECIALISTS. EVACUATION BY BOAT AND TRAIN. SOLDIERS' AID SOCIETIES. LACK OF FUNDS. CALIFORNIA SAVES THE DAY. SANITARY FAIRS. DISTRIBUTION OF SUPPLIES. TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS. FIRST USE OF TREATY INSIGNIA. RELIEF CORPS DUTIES. HOSPITAL DIRECTORY. UNITED STATES CHRISTIAN COMMISSION. CONCLUSIONS.
Previous to our own Civil War organized and systematic relief for the sick and wounded soldiers had never been undertaken on any large scale. Because we had to create an army out of undisciplined civilian soldiers in charge of untrained and inexperienced officers, it became at the very first evident to thoughtful men that if the health and morale of our forces were to be maintained the medical department of the army must be organized and supplemented by volunteer aid. If by experience alone the lessons of war were to be learned, the price would be appalling. The public itself had no understanding of the needs of preventive measures. State by State the regiments were being formed and gathered into local camps. In most cases little or no attention was paid to the selection of the camp and its sanitation, while clothing and quarters were matters of small importance. There was a blind optimism prevalent. Discipline was unnecessary, not to be borne by volunteers, and courage could take the place of training
With a vivid recollection of the fearful mortality due to such ignorance and neglect during the Crimean War, an earnest group of our American men studied the situation existing here. They knew that had not the matter been taken in hand by the British War Department after it had already paid a heavy and unnecessary toll of human life, in ten months' time the entire British army would have been destroyed. There was need with us of immediate attention to preventive measures, and not investigation after the war was over.
The medical service of our own army was out of date; and even with the desire to do more effective work it was without power to carry out any vital reforms. It was also jealous of outside interference, yet nothing could be accomplished without co-operation upon the part of the medical department on the one hand and intelligent volunteer assistance on the other to educate public opinion, force government action and likewise supplement the actual labors of the official organization
Many of the first regiments that reached Washington were unfit for military service. They arrived after long, slow journeys in crowded cattle cars, where no provision had been made for their care and comfort. The officers, new to their duties, had made no preparation for their reception at the Capital, and hours of weary waiting followed the exhausting journey. When at last a hastily prepared camp was reached, the men, utterly tired out, found scanty straw for their beds and shoddy blankets for their covering. The careful students of this situation became convinced of the necessity of arousing the Government to the importance of promptly taking in hand active measures to change such conditions. The necessity also of controlling and putting to practical use the excited generosity of the public impressed itself upon them.
On April 15, 1861, the day that President Lincoln called for volunteers, the women of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and those of Charleston, West Virginia, started organizations for soldiers' relief. Soon other cities followed their example. Inspired with a patriotic desire, plans were hastily made to supply nurses, bring home sick and wounded soldiers, and to forward comforts, provisions, books and papers to the men at the front. The latter part of April there was held at Cooper's Institute, on the invitation of ninety-two of the most prominent women of New York city, a large and enthusiastic meeting, which was attended by Dr. Bellows and Dr. Elisha Harris, latter two of the most active members of the Sanitary Commission. At that time there was organized "The Women's Central Association of Relief, " whose duties were to collect suitable supplies, establish warehouses for their storage, bureaus for the examination and registration of nurses, and to provide supplementary aid in various forms to the Army Medical Service. Physicians and surgeons associations organized and opened a depot for lint and bandages.
The nervous energy soon led to excited discussions over medical matters, such, for example, as, What was the most suitable kind of lint? As trained nursing at that time was not a profession, the important problem of securing nurses received apparently little attention. It became evident in a short time that there were many complicated questions besides that of lint requiring solution by the Government. For this reason a delegation consisting of Dr. Bellows and several others representing the associations that had just been formed went to Washington. The utmost confusion prevailed there. The Government, deluged by suggestions from all parts of the country, recommending every kind of remedy for war or imaginary evils, was pursuing a "tentative policy" without definite purpose. The delegation taking its place with many others, was received courteously, rather because of its personnel than for its counsels
At first a call was made upon General Scott, and though the Medical Department later declined assistance, one important point was gained. The experienced old commander of the Mexican War was cognizant of the condition of many of the volunteers, and a physical examination test was decided upon before the men were permitted to enlist. However, the carrying out of this regulation to weed out the unfit made such serious inroads upon the troops there was grave danger of arousing the country's alarm, so that many unqualified for hard service were still retained.
After the exercise of much diplomacy, the delegation succeeded in having appointed a Sanitary Commission to act in an advisory capacity to the Surgeon General's Department. Neither President Lincoln nor the Secretary of War looked with favor upon the proposition, the former referring to it as "a fifth wheel to the coach. "
The obstacles that the Commission was forced to overcome and the consequent delay because of Government reluctance to avail itself of the invaluable service offered it were a serious handicap. No better proof is required than this of the need for a permanent and trained Red Cross organization, which, having received governmental authority beforehand, is constantly in touch with the departments that in war would require its assistance. It is then possible for its duties to be carefully studied out and regulated by both government and association officers when not under the stress and pressure of war. In the organization of our American Red Cross the surgeon generals of the army and navy are respectively chairman and vice-chairman of the War Relief Board. It would therefore be impossible for the situation that confronted volunteer assistance at the outbreak of the Civil War to again arise.
To be quite sure that the Commission's functions in no way interfered with the Government it was given the cumbersome title of "Commission of Inquiry and Advice in Respect to the Sanitary Interest of the United States Forces " Dr. Henry W. Bellows was selected as chairman, and Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted as secretary.
The Commission was divided into two committees; the first, on Inquiry, subdivided its work between committees on inquiries from experience of foreign wars, on inspection in camps for actual conditions, on matters of diet, clothing and quarters, etc. The second committee, on Advice, took upon itself a service somewhat greater than its name implied. Acting upon conclusions based upon the inquiries of the former committee, its duties were to get such conclusions approved by the Medical Bureau, ordered by the War Department, and carried out by officers and men.
Though the Commission became the active agency in the distribution of the vast quantities of material supplies, and so to the public lost its primary object, this was ever uppermost in the minds of the initiators. It looked to preventive measures. It planned to supplement Government deficiencies and with courteous firmness to secure the fulfilment of their responsibilities by the officers entrusted with the general welfare of the troops.
The commission was without any government financial support and therefore independent of Government control. As bureaus of inspection, by various capable agents, were immediately necessary, a first appeal for funds was made to life insurance companies, which promptly responded. The inspection of twenty camps of volunteers near Washington revealed the facts: that there was no system of drainage, no attention paid to camp sanitation or bathing facilities provided for the men; the tents were overcrowded, the atmosphere about them offensive, the clothing of the men of the poorest quality, and generally very soiled. Police duty and the enforcement of camp regulations were totally inadequate. Rations were unsuitable. Beef and pork there were in plenty, but no fresh vegetables; and the food was wretchedly cooked, so that scurvy and dysentery were inevitable. The Western camps presented the same unfortunate conditions to the inspectors.
The Commission's first recommendations were for accommodations near the station at Washington to receive troops on their arrival, that part of the soldier's pay be remitted to his family, that the camps establish proper regulations and adequate policing, that competent cooks be employed, and fresh vegetables provided. Little attention was paid by the Government to these gratuitous recommendations. But the disastrous defeat at the first battle of Bull Run produced an impression that the recommendations had failed to do. Seventy-five questions s to the practical reasons for the defeat were asked of officers and men by the Commission. These questions included inquiries as to the strength of the regiments, when the last meal before the encounter was taken, the degree of vigor at the commencement, the causes of exhaustion before it began, the fulfilment of their duties by the Commissary Department, the physical and moral condition of the troops during the battle and causes of exhaustion, the extent and degree of demoralization and its causes. Never in history has so remarkable a category of questions looking to the explanation of a defeat after a severe battle been made on the spot and so soon after the result. The Government's incompetence in looking out for the welfare of the troops was made so manifest, based on the evidence obtained through the answers to these questions, that the report was withheld from the public. In a few regiments, like the Second Rhode Island, where inspection had shown that sanitary conditions prevailed and discipline was maintained in the camp before it left for the battlefield, no demoralization was found.
But the troops that previously had been illy fed, neglected and undisciplined started the battle exhausted and in a short space of time were converted into a routed half-starved mob. Mr. Olmsted's report gives a graphic picture of Washington shortly after this defeat:
"Groups of men wearing parts of military uniforms and some of them with muskets were indeed to be seen; but upon second sight they did not appear to be soldiers. Rather they were a most woe-begone rabble, which had perhaps clothed itself with the garments of dead soldiers left on a hard-fought battlefield. No two were dressed completely alike; some were without caps, others without coats, others without shoes. All were alike excessively dirty, unshaven, unkempt, and dank with dew. The groups were formed around fires made in the streets, of boards wrenched from citizens' fences. Some were still asleep, at full length in the gutters and on doorsteps, or sitting on the curbstone resting their heads against the lamp-posts. Others were evidently begging for food at house-doors. Some appeared ferocious, others only sick and dejected-all excessively weak, hungry and selfish. There was no apparent organization; no officers were seen among them, seldom even a non-commissioned officer. At Willard's Hotel, however, officers swarmed. They, too, were dirty and in ill condition; but appeared indifferent reckless, and shameless, rather than dejected and morose. "
Justly alarmed, the Government inaugurated reforms that had been previously suggested, and the disinterested men of the Commission had the satisfaction of witnessing immediate improvement in the health, morale and contentment of the volunteer, who at first were considered unwilling to submit to strict military discipline
The next important field of usefulness undertaken by the commission was the inspection of hospitals. The buildings selected for this purpose were generally unsuitable and badly arranged. The attendants and nurses were almost totally untrained and unqualified for such service. Encouraged by the Government 's change of attitude, the Commission advised that temporary hospitals for fifteen thousand be built, and arranged in the "Pavilion System, " each ward of fifty beds in a separate building.
The result of the adoption of this plan was a prompt reduction in the death rate. More thorough camp inspection by six especial delegates followed. This included inspection of the soldiers' bedding and clothing, of the sources and quality of water, the character of rations and cooking, camp discipline, qualification of medical officers, sickness and mortality among the troops, and the nature of local hospital accommodations. On the whole, the officers, though ignorant, were willing to receive suggestions and to try to carry them out.
Adequate transportation of the wounded was another problem to be considered;and also that pertaining to nurses, as many of the male nurses employed in the evacuation were inefficient and even brutal. Jealousy sometimes interfered with the efforts of the Commission, but back of it was the strong force of public confidence that enabled it to continue and to carry on its great work.
The purpose of the Commission---and to which it clung with an ever-steadfast tenacity---was defined by its officers in these words:
"The one point which controls the commission is just this: A simple desire and resolute determination to secure for the men who have enlisted in this war that care which it is the duty of the nation to give them. That care is their right, and in the Government or out of it, it must be given them, let who will stand in the way. "
To carry out this purpose involved work so varied and so extensive that it is not easy to give even a brief account of its activities, yet everyone of them is of immediate practical value to-day.
The Commission printed thousand of leaflets prepared by expert specialists, containing the latest medical advice regarding the treatment of sick and wounded. and these were distributed among the surgeons, many of whom, hastily selected men, were poorly qualified for their duties. By patient and persistent efforts the Army Medical Service was reorganized, and more effective cooperation between it and the Quartermaster's Department, upon which it largely depended, was brought about.
Branches of the commission were established in the western cities, with depots for the collection of supplies to be distributed from central stations at army headquarters.
Evacuation of the wounded by steamers on the Mississippi and Ohio was another duty. Strange as it may seem, with all the improvements of medical service of armies, they are yet unable to keep pace with war's destruction. The picture of the conditions of the wounded after the capture of Fort Donelson, as described by an eye-witness, might find its reproduction back of many of the battle lines to-day:
"Some were just as they had been left by the fortune of war (four days before); their wounds, as yet, undressed smeared with filth and blood, and all their wants unsupplied. Others had had their wounds dressed one, two or three days before. Others, still, were under the surgeons' hands, receiving such care as could be given them by men overburdened by the number of their patients, worn out by excessive and long-continued labor, without an article of clothing to give to any for a change, or an extra blanket, without bandages or dressings, with but two ounces of cerate to three hundred men, with few medicines and no stimulants, and with nothing but corn meal gruel, hard bread, and bacon, to dispense as food. "
Save for the Sanitary Commission, there was no centralized national relief work carried on. State governments instead of co-operating, frequently sent transports for the use only of the men of their own regiment. These floated idly at their docks, while hundreds of unfortunate wounded from other States lay waiting vainly for transportation. The State's right in such a case becomes a nation's wrong
In log huts, surrounded by fever breeding swamps, the wounded from the siege of Yorktown, wearing still their heavy uniforms, died by scores, until eight thousand of them were brought away by the Commission's transport steamers. The earliest hospital trains were formed of ordinary freight cars, without any comfort or convenience for the men, who, without proper food and attendants, often passed days of fearful and unnecessary suffering. Here was a new field for the Commissions activities. Heavy elastic loops for litter handles were fitted to the sides of the cars to carry three tiers-one above the other-of litters, equipped with mattresses, pillows and quilts; and invalid chairs were placed in the aisles between. Pantries were filled with blankets, clothing and other necessary supplies, and food could be served hot or cold during the exhausting journey. Surgeons and nurses with hospital appliances accompanied each train. These trains, originally organized and supported by the Commission, in time were taken over by the Army Medical Service, and during the war by this means over five hundred thousand wounded were transported.
Though the primary purpose of the Commission had been the adoption and carrying out of preventive measures, the scope of its labors had immensely broadened under the exigencies of the demands made upon it. One of the most important departments of its work was that devoted to the collection and distribution of supplies. This feature in war relief measures predominates in the public mind over others in importance, as it is in this particular line of aid that the people themselves are best able to play an active part. In all wars governments are forced to devote their chief energies and resources to the maintenance of the efficiency of the fighting forces, and this tends to leave the care of the sick and wounded man to the particular charge of the people. He is inevitably of secondary importance to the State. Because of this and because popular sympathy and public patriotism seek some method for practical expression, the incapacitated soldier depends largely upon volunteer aid
During the Civil War, in the North some seven thousand Soldiers' Aid Societies were organized, and the estimated value of the supplies collected by them amounted to over fifteen millions of dollars. No provision was made by the Government for hospital garments and practically none for sick diet, absolutely necessary for hospital use.
We have, on the one hand, the need of assistance, and, on the other, the irresistible and energetic desire of the people to give it. Hence, the great importance of centralized organization to bring together the need and the assistance, to direct energy, prevent waste and control enthusiasm. The public had to be made to realize the impossibility of sending supplies to individual soldiers, to be guided away from a zeal that made hundreds of mysterious head gears, called "Havelocks, " and provided impossible delicacies for the sick.
The Sanitary Commission officers and women representatives of the Soldiers Aid Societies met in conference in Washington and wisely decided that all supplies should go into the Commission stock for distribution where most needed. Bi-weekly bulletins were issued, giving particulars as to needs, and reports as to distribution of supplies in letters from the agents with the armies in the field. When scurvy made its appearance, potato and onion circulars were issued, and thousands of barrels of these were donated to the Commission by the farmers of the country.
Bazaars of modern times sink into insignificance before the great sanitary fairs, that raised nearly three millions of dollars. To these everyone poured out their gifts. The farmer brought his harvest, the manufacturer and the machinist the product of the mills and the shops, the artist or the artisan his handicraft. Everyone gave and everyone bought until there is no wonder that a single bazaar yielded a million of dollars.
At first the maintenance of its varied activities brought large demands upon the limited treasury of the Commission, and in October, 1862, failure loomed before it for lack of funds to carry on its work. Just at this critical moment California saved the day with a totally unexpected contribution of one hundred thousand dollars With this the tide turned, and from then on funds were never wanting. California and the other Pacific States in selecting the far away Commission for their almoner had set an example. In writing of the value of this aid the historian of the Sanitary Commission dwells on the fact of its example:
"The immense national advantage in a struggle for unity of a common enterprise of humanity around which the homes of the country could rally, adding thus the united strength of the domestic feeling of the American people to its political and military power in the council and the field-would have been lost, if the United States Sanitary Commission had not succeeded. It was a desperate enterprise to attempt to unite by humane feeling what was so disunited by distance and the disintegrating tendencies of local pride and interest, as the different States and communities of so broad a country. Neither the excellency of the plan, nor the ability of its administration, could have succeeded against the force of sectional pride and independence, and the truly American love of multiplying local associations. Desperate efforts to throw off the yoke of the United States Sanitary Commission would constantly have been made by its already half-independent branches, and would have succeeded. Coaxing and compromising and humoring did wonders to bring about unity and co-operation. And we did not hesitate to say that the cash resources of the Commission, which alone commanded and utilized its supplies, were mainly due to the largeness, the constancy the persistency of the contributions from California and the Pacific coast, ---Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and the Sandwich Islands---so that to California more than to any State in the Union is really due the growth, usefulness, success, the national reputation of the United States Sanitary Commission. "
The measures used to raise the large funds that continued to be forwarded to the Commission from the Far West were both ingenious and amusing. The entire young community bubbled over with enthusiasm and possibly with something of the generous spirit of the lucky gambler. Articles were sold at auction-a pullet, a nugget of gold, a box of strawberries followed each other and fell to the highest bidder under the hammer. A train's delay and an energetic sportsman resulted in the bagging of a single hare, which was carried through the twenty cars and sold over and over again until the engine was reached, with $157 for the cause.
Nevada equalled California in the originality of her schemes. To settle a bet a defeated candidate for mayor of the little two-year-old town of Austin carried a sack of flour to a neighboring village. Preceded by a band of music in a wagon, accompanied by his small son in full uniform and followed by a lively crowd of miners and other citizens, the defeated candidate paid his bet, and seizing the opportunity to utilize the amused and good-natured mob he proposed to sell the sack at auction. The crowd entered into his plan with enthusiasm and with the lavish hand of the gold miner. Soon five thousand dollars were secured; but the bag had not yet completed its work, for, delighted with his success, the would-be mayor continued with his bag of flour a successful journey from place to place throughout the State. It went to San Francisco, turned up in New York, and journeyed on with its indefatigable promoter to the fair at St. Louis. No less than forty thousand dollars did this one bag of flour gain for the Commission's treasury. Of the total fund of five million dollars, the Pacific Coast gave one and a quarter million. The Sanitary Fairs raised $2,736,000, leaving about $700,000, received from all other sources.
The distribution of supplies was divided into two classes: general and special. The general distribution was for the benefit of general field and regimental hospitals and for the men in camp or on the march. Special distribution included that for disabled and discharged soldiers and paroled prisoners. The wise plan was to supplement, not supplant, the Army Medical Service. Regulations required that the need must be apparent, and surgeons were called upon to explain why it existed, so that their responsibility was emphasized and wasteful measures prevented. The Commission did not encourage well-meaning people and others who sought self-exploitation or personal thanks entering into the hospitals to the annoyance of those in charge and the interference with proper discipline. It did not enter into the cry against Army "red tape," realizing that without the upholding of government discipline and responsibility the whole fabric would fall into ruin.
At ten collecting depots stationed in ten large cities all supplies were sorted, repacked and stored to replenish the stock of the two large distributing warehouses at the headquarters of the armies- Washington and Louisville. A careful system of accountability was carried on at both receiving and distributing stations. After such great battles as those of Antietam, Gettysburg, and the Campaign of the Wilderness, the prompt filling of requisitions by the distributing stations was of immense value in the relief of the wounded men. The commanding generals were full of appreciation of the service rendered and General Grant expressed his appreciation indirectly in an order issued in 1863:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 28, 1863.
Commanding Officer, Cairo, Ill. :
Sir. -Direct the Post Quartermaster at Cairo to call upon the U. S. Sanitary agent at your place, and see exactly what buildings they require to be erected for their charitable and humane purposes.
The Commission has been of such great service to the country, and at Cairo are doing so much for this army at this time, that I am disposed to extend their facilities for doing good in every way in my power. You will therefore cause to be put up at Government expense, suitable buildings for the Sanitary Commission, connecting those they already have, and also put up for them necessary outbuildings-
(Signed) U. S. GRANT
Because of its employment of paid agents, the Commission had to meet the same criticism that is sometimes experienced by the Red Cross to-day. This criticism arises as do so many others, from the ignorance of real conditions and no better answer can be made to the critics of then and of to-day than that made in Mr. Stiles' "History of the Sanitary Commission":
"It would hardly seem necessary to say one word upon the superior effectiveness and the greater real cheapness, of paid labor in the kind of work in which the Commission was engaged during the war, had not its policy in this matter been not only questioned, but vehemently assailed by may well meaning persons. Nothing could well be more lofty, than the scorn which was so often expressed during the war for those who would consent to receive money for their services in such a mission of mercy as this, but the Commission felt at the outset, and experience soon confirmed it in its opinion, that it had entered upon a work altogether too full of toil, drudgery, and repulsive reality to be upheld by any mere sentimental pity or sympathy for the poor soldier. Its object was to help the suffering by the best practical methods it could discover, not to give an opportunity for sympathizing friends at home to relieve their overburdened hearts by spending a few weeks in the army hospitals in busy yet fruitless attempts to aid him. The work of relieving the soldier was found in practice to he a very hard, continuous and prosaic one. The best mode of doing it was not learned by inspiration, but was to be acquired only by patient and long-continued watchfulness and labor. No man was fit for it who was not moved to undertake it by a principle of duty, but it was a novel idea that that duty was less conscientiously performed, and its lofty nature degraded by those who received compensation for their services. The great object which the Commission had in view of course was to secure the best services of the best men. The whole practice of the military service as well as that of every association or individual having work to do, and needing the help of agents to do it, was opposed to the assumption that any man's zeal and devotion in the performance of any duty is unfavorably affected by his receiving a salary. Why the rule heretofore universally recognized, that paid services have always been more steady, regular and abundant in results than those of mere volunteers should be reversed in the matter of army relief, it is difficult to say. "
The experience of our Civil War; in fact, of all serious wars, proves that prompt alleviation of human suffering upon the battlefield where a large number are wounded is a problem almost impossible of solution. The long continuation of the fighting, the difficulty under such conditions of rescuing the wounded, the distance from the base of supplies, the demand upon the limited number of surgeons and attendants, present the gravest obstacles to immediate aid. After the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, nearly ten thousand wounded Federal soldiers and a large number of the defeated Confederates remained to be cared for. Though every building-church, house and even barn-was filled with the wounded, there was not place enough;and shelterless hundreds lay in the woods and open fields. To the army surgeons were added scores of civilian medical men; but the need far exceeded the supply, and seriously wounded men waited days before receiving surgical care
The lack of transportation facilities prevented the medical supplies already at Baltimore being shipped, though a day's delay meant to many a men life or death. The Sanitary Commission, perceiving this difficulty, had secured its own large wagons and by means of their use the first medical supplies were hurried to the front, to be followed by a daily service. Had it not been for this work of the Commission, even chloroform, opiates and surgical instruments would have been wanting; and by this means thousands of blankets and clothing were likewise provided.
All transportation facilities were in the Quartermaster Department's hands, thus leaving the medical service without any means of its own to forward its supplies. Before the battle of Perryville even surgeons were prevented from carrying supplies, and the pitiful condition of the twenty-five hundred wounded can be imagined. Three large army wagons and twenty-one ambulances were hastily filled from the Commission's warehouse at Louisville and rushed to the scene of the conflict, where the suffering and agony of the men were indescribable.
Herald of the spirit of the Red Cross, the Sanitary Commission recognized neither friend nor foe in the wounded man, for after Gettysburg supplies were freely offered to the Confederate surgeons, and side by side the Blue and the Gray cared for the sick and wounded of both armies. To provide aid at the front, field relief corps were organized, and to supplement these, auxiliary relief corps for the care of the wounded left behind or sent to hospitals.
It was probably this latter corps that first adopted the insignia of the Geneva cross, not in color, but in form, cut in a silver badge. At the conclusion of the war the corps presented to its chief, Mr. Frank B. Fay, a large silver cross suspended in a laurel wreath of carved oak. This a few years ago was presented to the American Red Cross by Mr. Fay's son.
The first duty undertaken by the Commissary Relief Corps was the organization of feeding stations along the routes for the evacuation of the wounded. Fredericksburg after the battle of the Wilderness, with its twenty thousand wounded, like Castiglione after Solferino, was converted into one vast hospital. Totally unprepared for such an influx of wounded, only the presence of this trained and experienced corps, with the supplies transported to the city by the forty four-horse wagons of the Commission, brought any relief to this scene of awful confusion and misery. Death took its toll among these faithful laborers, and on the altar of sacrifice no nobler lives were offered up.
The labors of the Commission did not end with the care of the sick and wounded. Under a special relief service, soldiers' homes and convalescent camps aided the discharged men, furnished temporary food and lodgings, received their papers of discharge and secured their pay, provided transportation to their homes; in fact, constituted itself the faithful, conscientious guardian of the soldier incapacitated for active duty.
By establishing a hospital directory another important humanitarian act was accomplished. In the constant changes of the moving armies it was not possible for a soldier's family or friends to keep in touch with him. Weeks passed without information, and every battle brought renewed anxiety to those at home. Inquiries by the thousands poured in upon the Commission, and these led to the formation of a hospital directory, in whose four offices were registered the complete lists of over six hundred thousand men in the two hundred and thirty-three army hospitals, with reports as to their conditions obtained through the medical department. From this directory the constant stream of anxious inquiries were answered.
Though the Sanitary Commission was the great volunteer relief agency of the Civil War, there was organized by the Young Men's Christian Association a Christian Commission, which, while it also ministered to the sick and wounded, had for its primary purpose the spirit and moral welfare of the soldiers. The study of its remarkable achievement of the Sanitary Commission lead to certain inevitable conclusions: first, that volunteer aid to the sick and wounded in war is absolutely essential; second, that unless, as was done during the Civil War, the selfish desire to create independent relief organizations is suppressed for the sake of true efficiency, there will result hopeless confusion, fruitless efforts and untold suffering for the victims of such a misguided and egoistic system of relief. The work of the Sanitary Commission shines out amidst the darkness and misery of war, a warning against failure and a guide to success.
WOMEN IN WAR. MISS DOROTHEA DIX. MISS CLARA BARTON. "MOTHER BICKERDYKE. "HELP FOR THE ENEMIES' WOUNDED. A VIVANDIERE. MRS. BARLOW'S STORY. RELIEF WORK IN THE CONFEDERACY. LACK OF RECORDS. SOLDIERS' AID SOCIETIES. HOSPITALS. CAPTAIN SALLIE TOMPKINS. PRIVATIONS AND INVENTIONS OF THE WOMEN OF THE SOUTH. AN INCIDENT IN THE TAKING OF COLUMBIA.
The successful achievement of all great organizations almost invariably accomplished by the well-systematized, directed and controlled labors of the many. So it was with the Sanitary Commission. There were those whose names Shone out more brightly than the others in its myriad workers; executive ability fell into places of responsibility; training and experience brought their share in the glory. There were others who by reason of fortunate chance, though not connected with its service, became publicly recognized; and still others rightfully wore the halo of saints, having given their lives for their suffering fellow-men. But back of all these, in the quiet of the home, in the busy turmoil of the great supply depots and by the bedsides of the sick, the wounded and the dying, were an army of unselfish, self-sacrificing men and women whose names mark no pages of history nor are lettered forth on any monuments of marble.
Women have been called the greatest victims of war, for day by day they bear the heartbreaking burden of anxiety for those they love. Busily they ply their nervous fingers or fill their active brains with plans for help so that there remains no time to let their imagination picture the fate of the well loved soldiers at the front. To them must fall the greatest share of the volunteer aid in time of war, and with devotion, self-sacrifice and courage did the women of the North and the women of the South fulfill this mission during our own great civil strife. No history of our American Red Cross can be complete without some reference to those who though they labored before any flag of the Red Cross proclaimed its merciful services in the United State yet were the pioneers in its duties.
In a record of "Woman's Work in the Civil War, " published in 1867, the author says: "Among all the women who devoted themselves with untiring energy and gave talents of the highest order to the work of caring for our soldiers during the Civil War the name of Dorothea L. Dix will always take the first rank. "Miss Dix, the daughter of a Worcester physician, while maintaining a school for girls in Boston, became interested in prison work, in poor-houses and insane asylum reforms. Her labors led her into many States and to the very doors of Congress for assistance, so that already she was recognized as a woman of marked ability and experience. The outbreak of the war brought her to Washington; where her first duty was the nursing of some wounded soldiers, victims of the Baltimore attack. The ability and practical experience of Miss Dix was such that when elected by the Secretary of War as "Superintendent of Female Nurses, "the choice was universally commended. The appointment and approval of such nurses were placed in her hands. There existed no professional training as a standard, and it is interesting and somewhat amusing to read certain qualifications required by Miss Dix, such as maturity in years, plainness in dress, good health, and an unquestioned moral character. To be by no means endowed with personal attractions was a further commendation to Miss Dix's favor. Her duties were not confined to the selection of nurses, for she inspected hospitals and, like Florence Nightingale, had her obstacles to overcome because of the surgeons who resented any interference. She received no salary, maintaining from her private means ambulances, rest homes for nurses and soldiers, and depots of supplies.
In spite of many difficulties, due largely to the fact that her position was one without precedent and which lacked authority to enforce obedience, Miss Dix accomplished a great work. She gave herself, heart and soul, to her duties, without thought of name or fame, and no woman during the Civil War more fully deserved the gratitude of her fellow citizens.
Among the many scores of women whose names are associated with the care of the sick and wounded is that of Miss Clara Barton. As Miss Barton was not connected with either the Sanitary or the Christian Commission during the war, and as in the one hundred and twenty-eight volumes of the Civil War Reports in the War Department her name occurs only once, in connection with a letter written about prisoners at Annapolis, we turn to an account written by one of her friends.
Like Miss Dix, she was a native of Worcester County, Massachusetts; and also, like Miss Dix, began her work for the soldiers by caring for the wounded of the Massachusetts troops attacked on their way through Baltimore. During the Peninsular Campaign, with an ambulance of dressings and restoratives, she met the transports as they landed with the wounded at the wharves of Washington. In September, 1862, she followed General McClellan s army, and after the Battle of Antietam she and her assistants, turning over the dressings to the surgeons, devoted themselves to distributing bread and making gruel for the wounded. At Culpeper Court House, Fairfax Station and Fredericksburgher biographer tells of her continuous efforts to relieve the suffering. The story is related that after the battle of Fredericksburg among others she cared for a dying Confederate officer, who, in his gratitude, gave her valuable information as to the plans of the Southern forces to entrap the Federal Army in that city and advised her against going there. Miss Barton, however, regained her army corps, but it is not related whether or not she passed on the information she had received.
During the siege of Fort Wayne, in 1863, with a few men to aid her boil water, she washed the wounds of the men or prepared tea, coffee and other delicacies for the sick. After a rest in 1864 in preparation for the coming campaign, she returned to her labors. Towards the latter part of the war she devoted her energies to the tracing of missing soldiers. To reimburse her for her expenditures in this work Congress, in 1865, appropriated for her benefit $15, 000.
Though Miss Dix's and Miss Barton's names are perhaps the best remembered among those of our Northern women, it is difficult to pass by hundreds of other who gave equally devoted and untiring service. There were those in the humbler walks of life, like "Mother Bickerdyke, " whose zeal for her wounded soldiers was unbounded and untrammeled. Robust, with remarkable powers of endurance, of stern exterior and indomitable will, she was a tower of strength to the wounded men. She would forage for them regardless of personal danger. Tenderness itself to "her boys, " she was a martinet towards careless hospital orderlies, and even surgeons were known to quake before her onslaught.
On one occasion, visiting one of the wards containing the badly wounded men, at eleven o'clock, A. M., she found that the assistant surgeon in charge of the ward, who had been out on a drunken spree the night before, and had slept very late, had not yet made out the special diet list for the ward, and the men, faint and hungry, had had no breakfast. She denounced him at once in the strongest terms, and as he came in, and with an attempt at jollity inquired, "Hoity-toity, what's the matter?" she turned upon him with, " Matter enough, you miserable scoundrel! Here these men, anyone of them worth a thousand of you, are suffered to starve and die, because you want to be off on a drunk! Pull off your shoulder straps" she continued, as he tried feebly to laugh off her reproaches, "pull off your shoulder straps, for you shall not stay in the army a week longer. " The surgeon still laughed, but he turned pale, for he knew her power. She was as good as her word. Within three days she had caused his discharge. He went to headquarters and asked to be reinstated. Major General Sherman, who was then in command, listened patiently, and then inquired who had procured his discharge. "I was discharged in consequence of misrepresentation, "answered the surgeon, evasively. "But who caused your discharge?"persisted the general. "Why, " said the surgeon, "I suppose it was that woman, that Mrs. Bickerdyke. " "Oh!" said Sherman. "Well, if it was she, I can do nothing for you. She ranks me. "
Intense as was the war feeling, it did not blot out humanity. Georgiana Woolsey in her graphic "Three Weeks at Gettysburg, " in many a story shows that the tenderness of the woman's nature was extended to the soldier in gray as well as the one in blue. To the sender of a number of boxes of supplies she wrote: "You will not, I am sure, regret that those wretched men-those enemies sick and in prison-were helped and cared for through your supplies, though certainly they were not in your mind when you packed your barrels and ;, boxes. " A soldier has respect for a courageous foe, and t is generally the civilian at home who needs Lord Roberts' fine advice: "Do not kill Krueger with your tongues. "
"'Have you friends in the army, madam?' a rebel soldier, lying on the floor of the car, said to me, as I gave him some milk. 'Yes, my brother is on an officer's staff. 'I thought so, ma'am. You can always tell when people are good to soldiers they are sure to have friends in the army. ' 'We are rebels, you know, ma'am, ' another said. 'Do you treat rebels so?' It was strange to see the good brotherly feeling come over the soldiers, our own and the rebels, when side by side they lay in our tents. 'Hullo, boys! this is the pleasantest way to meet, isn't it ? We are better friends when we are as close as this than a little farther off!' And then they would go over the battles together. 'We were here, ' and 'You were there, ' in the friendliest way. "
Another interesting and amusing story told by Miss Woolsey rather reflects on the Gettysburg farmer, but shows how the Southern wounded were also cared for in her camp:
"Few good things can be said of the Gettysburg farmers, and I only use Scripture language in calling them 'evil beasts. ' One of this kind came creeping into our camp three weeks after the battle. He lived five miles only from the town, and had 'never seen a rebel. He heard we had some of them, and had come down to see them. 'Boys, ' we said, -marching him into the tent which happened to be full of rebels that day, waiting for the train, -'Boys, here's a man who never saw a rebel in his life, and wants to look at you;' and there he stood with his mouth wide open, and there they lay in rows, laughing at him, stupid old Dutchman. ' And why haven't you seen a rebel?' One of us said, 'why didn't you take your gun and help to drive them out of your town' 'A feller might'er got hit!'-which reply was quite too much for the rebels; they roared with laughter at him, up and down the tent. "
Another type of woman was Annie Etheridge, a vivandière or fille du régiment. Like an Amazon, she rode in the midst of the shot and shell, with utter disregard of danger, that she might find and aid the wounded;she encouraged the men in the trenches and led back many a straggling deserter to the battle line.
Then there were those noble women-many of them who, like Mrs. Barlow, gave up their lives in the hospital service. During the hearings before the Senate Committee for the Memorial to the Women of the Civil War, Captain James A. Scrymser gave the simple story of her short married life. He and his friend, Frank Barlow, had agreed if civil war arose they would go. On President Lincoln's call for volunteers in April, 1861, they met at Delmonico's, one of the recruiting offices:
"So upstairs we went and enlisted. As Barlow left the armory he said, 'I am going uptown to be married. '
"The next morning when the regiment was paraded on Union Square I saw a handsome woman on the curbstone in tears. Barlow beckoned to me and said, 'Jim, that is the bride. '
"When the regiment marched she took his arm and marched with it down Broadway. Finally we brought up in Washington and encamped in Franklin Square on Fourteenth Street. Barlow had been made a captain and I was a lieutenant. Barlow at that time did not look to be over eighteen years of age. In fact, he was known as the boy general in the army. One Sunday morning the regiment having left the camp, I was in charge of the camp grounds.
"I heard a lady talking outside the guardhouse to one of the sentries. I heard a woman's voice say, 'I will come in. ' The answer was, 'No, you can not come in. ' She said, ' I will come in; I am the wife of Captain Barlow. ' She was met with the reply, 'No, you don't; that boy is no husband of yours. '
"The next time I saw Mrs. Barlow was on the morning of the battle of Antietam, the 17th of September, 1862. I was riding through what was known as the east woods, east of the Dunkard Church, which was then about the centre of the battle, and there I found this lone woman I do not suppose there was another woman within five miles. I said, 'Mrs. Barlow, what are you doing here'? She replied, 'You know, I belong to the Christian Commission and I left Baltimore yesterday and was detailed for service at Hagerstown, and last night I heard there was going to be a fight down here and so here I am. ' I said, 'Did you leave Hagerstown last night' She answered, 'Yes; and I have tramped seventeen miles, and here I am, and this is my only escort, ' pointing to a negro with a wheelbarrow, a trunk, and a handbox.
"I had seen a field hospital being organized down in a valley, so I took Mrs. Barlow there and left her in charge of the surgeons. About noon I was out at the front and saw Barlow brought in on a stretcher. I directed that he be taken down to the field hospital, as I knew his wife was there. In a few minutes she was alongside of him and he saved his life by careful nursing.
"Again at the battle of Gettysburg, in July, 1863, Barlow was terribly wounded and fell within the enemy's lines. General Early and General Gordon came along and when they saw Barlow, General Gordon said, 'Here is a Yankee officer, perhaps we can do something for him. ' General Early remarked, 'No, he is too far gone; we can not do anything for him. ' General Gordon then got down and gave Barlow a drink; whereupon Barlow raised himself on his elbow and said, 'General Early, I will live to whip you yet. ' Barlow gave him a package saying, 'Here are some letters from my wife; if I die, destroy them; if I live, keep them and give them to me. "
"Mrs. Barlow was with General Hancock 's command fourteen miles away. Hancock's command did not reach Gettysburg until the afternoon. She soon heard that Barlow had fallen wounded within the enemy's lines and appealed to General Hancock for permission to go through to care for him. He refused, saying, 'No, Madam; for military reasons you can not pass through the lines. However, after dark, she went down to the picket lines, gathered up her skirt ad ran over to the enemy's lines. She said both sides fired on her. As soon as she entered the enemy's lines she was treated with the utmost courtesy, taken to the hospital and she again nursed Barlow and again saved his life.
"I speak of this lady simply as one of a type of which there were thousands, who would have shown the same courage and devotion under like circumstances.
"At the battle of the Wilderness, Barlow fulfilled his threat when he said he would whip General Early. He captured half of General Early's command and sixteen of his guns, the only redeeming feature of that battle. He was again wounded and was placed upon a steamer and sent to Washington, and on that steamer his guardian angel, Mrs. Barlow, reappeared. Again she nursed him and again saved his life. Mrs. Barlow died of camp fever in 1864. Barlow entered the service as a private and retired as a major general. Afterwards he was elected Secretary of State and Attorney-General of the State of New York. A few days before his death---I think it was in 1891---I went to see him and he said to me, 'Jim, do you remember Arabella? The time will come when the finest monument in this country will be built to the memory of the women of the Civil War, ' and I am here, gentlemen, to ask that you will appropriate the sum necessary for the site as provided in this bill. "
Such were the types of hundreds of Northern women who did the Red Cross work of Civil War days. There were thousands who then, as now, because of sentiment or egotism, overwhelmed officials and relief organizations with their applications to nurse the wounded, with little or no comprehension of the hardship, dangers and sacrifices involved.
The history of war relief work in the South is not so easily obtained as in the North. It is to be regretted that there are so few records of the same Self-sacrificing service given by the women of the Confederacy. In those days of sorrow for "The Lost Cause, " of poverty from long sacrifice, and of slow reconstruction there was no heart to gather up reports and statistics of such work. Forty years later by careful gleaning from newspaper files and by long delayed written memoirs the women of South Carolina gathered together such a record; and what was true of the work in the "Old Palmetto State" was doubtless true of all the others in the Southern Confederacy.
No central organization like that of the Sanitary Commission existed, but innumerable soldiers' aid societies sprang up everywhere. A civilian army there as in the North required not only lint, bandages and garments for the hospitals, but home-made uniforms for the soldiers and, in their case, the newly adopted flag for the regiments. Like the women of the Revolution, the unprepared troops demanded their aid, and their clever ingenuity was only equalled by their persistent courage.
On July 4, 1861, a proposition was laid before the President of the Confederacy by South Carolinians leading to the establishment, under volunteers, of hospitals along the line of defence, but thinking this would impede rather than aid the efficiency of the medical service it was not favorably received. On the failure of the plan it was decided to establish at Charlottesville a depository to collect and furnish hospital stores, attendants and nourishment. In reply to an appeal, supplies poured in from all sides, and from the Young Men's Christian Association men nurses were sent. A wayside shelter was fitted up near the railroad for the sick, which soon located in larger quarters, half way between the courthouse and the university under the name of "The Midway. " It was the first volunteer hospital in Virginia. The success of a plan at first unfavored led to the establishment with official approval of several similar institutions, some of which took the cheerier name of Soldiers Homes. Temporary wayside hospitals were occasionally maintained in tents, which, were it not for matter of temperature, are generally more satisfactory than the old, unsanitary buildings often selected in war for such a purpose.
Captain Sallie Tompkins is dear to the memory of many a Virginia man and woman. Of her service one who knew her writes:
"When the government was removed to Richmond Miss Sallie Tompkins with some other gentlewomen of wealth and standing opened the Robinson Hospital on Main Street, of which she took charge using her own servants and her own means to run it-until those means were wholly exhausted. The servants remained faithful until Richmond was evacuated. 'As medicines were contraband of war, her treatment' says her nephew, 'for all diseases was air, light, turpentine and whiskey, all home products. If these failed, her panacea was prayer and the Bible. The percentage of recoveries holds its own with the most scientific treatment of to-day. When her private fortune was spent, the Confederate War Office bestowed upon her a captain's commission so that she could draw supplies from the Commissary Department. This commission can be seen in the Confederate Museum, Richmond. Many of the negroes from Poplar Grove, her former 'me in Matthew's County, Virginia, had been freed and provided for during their natural lives. ' Miss Tompkins is now an inmate of the Confederate Women's Home, Richmond, having spent her originally large fortune in active beneficence. She cannot be canonized in the Episcopal Church but only saints can do the work she did.
"Well organized hospitals in times of peace are sad places, but words cannot fitly paint the horrors of even the best during war time, especially when famine was added to the wounds, bruises, and gangrened sores of the patient victims in them. "
As the pathetic trainloads of misery moved backward from the front willing hands carried in food or cooling drinks. It is told of one cleanly old lady, at Sumter that she boarded the trains every morning to wash the soldiers, returning home by a later train.
The system of bookkeeping of the South Carolina Bureau of Supplies at Charlottesville provided for an invoice book for receipts, issue book for distribution in gross, and a requisition book for those given out to individuals on request from officials. In the cities, towns and villages of the State money was contributed, supplies purchased or made, and box after box followed the armies or was sent to this depository. As the war went on and the conflict was maintained, the inventive faculty was put to a severe test and never found wanting. Leaves were gathered in nearby forests to dye the wool and cotton; and mixtures of blue, black and white carded together, were spun by hand and woven into cloth uniform for the Confederate soldiers. After every available blanket was given away even carpets were taken from the floors for the use of the troops. Wool-stuffed mattresses were ripped apart that their contents might be recarded and woven into cloth. Trunks and attics were ransacked for old garments and bits of cloth which, raveled out and respun, were knitted into socks. The dresses of the women themselves were of home-spun, the gloves made from silk stockings that had danced through the balls of ante-bellum day. The old voluminous paternal cape supplied jackets for all the girls of the family. Buttons were cut from pieces of gourds and persimmon seeds did service on the children's clothes, while palmetto, corn shuck or straw were braided and woven into hats, trimmed with well-washed bits of ribbon.
Equally resourceful became the women in the provisioning of their household. Coffee was made of rye, wheat, or sweet potatoes, sweetened with sorghum or honey. Blackberry vine leaves disguised themselves as tea; the waves of the sea gave them their salt; the herbs or roots were their medicines. In the evening blazing knots of pine in the chimney provided their only light, save when some unusual occasion justified the extravagance of tallow candles. Under the women's hands the plantations were cultivated and the crops raised. It was in the midst of such deprivations with ever cheerful courage that the women of the South gave much of their little to the sick and wounded. They gave themselves as well. The wayside hospitals, developments of the rest stations, grew up along the lines of evacuation of the wounded, who received there nursing care. A surgeon who had seen service in one of these hospitals in 1866 volunteered in the Austrian Red Cross, and is said to have put to good use his experience in aiding the establishment of similar institutions in Europe. The good Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, faithful to their name, went into Virginia to minister to the wounded of the army near the front. An unusual gift, though not an infrequent one, numbered among donations for the hospitals would appear as "One negro man as nurse. " Among the lists of deaths published in a Charleston paper is that of "One of our faithful nurses, Soye, the property of William Rovenal, Esq. " When a call came for help for five thousand prisoners ill with typhoid fever, in three hours' time many boxes of food were packed and sent off to the sick and starving men.
Page after page with their prosaic lists of donors and supplies tell the same old story of the practical expression of woman's love and sympathy. True to the traditions of war, crowds of famished, frightened refugees poured into the cities on the approach of the Northern armies, adding their needs to the already heavy burden. In 1861 the destruction of a large part of Charleston by fire brought another horror upon the unfortunate people and taxed their efforts to the utmost to care for the homeless and destitute of their own city
In August, 1863, began the siege of the city, and after 568 days it fell. Casualties sometimes occurred among the women and children, their houses were shattered and sometimes burned. Our papers to-day are filled with reports of the burning and destruction of cities, and it behooves us to remember how much a part and parcel of war are all such horrors. To watch shells bursting overhead, to listen to the roar of guns and to fly from the destruction of their homes brought war close to these women of the South. Very vivid are their accounts of the burning and sacking of Columbia. Yet in spite of the gloom and anxiety there came the occasional touch of humor that links so closely tragedy to comedy, as illustrated by one of the writers.
"Never shall I forget a little incident that occurred on Thursday afternoon before the occupation on Friday morning. I was promenading the front piazza listening to the dull boom of cannonry as it came borne on the western breeze from across the river, feeling all the horrors of the situation when my attention was called to a ragged little darkey-one of the institutions of all Southern cities-as he went whistling quite unconcernedly on the opposite side of the street. Suddenly a big shell came hurtling through the air, striking a limb just over his head, shivering it into a thousand pieces. Like lightening the little Arab rolled himself into an inconceivably small black ball, crowding against the fence, with scarcely anything visible but the whites of his eyes, which he turned in amazement towards the shattered limb. For one brief moment he lay there. Then springing up he exclaimed: 'Fore God; I thought he had me, and fled like the wind. "
In reading this South Carolina record it has proved impracticable to single out individuals, so universal was the interest and the assistance;and the lack of records for the other states, in which were given the same devoted labor and service, makes it impossible. North and South alike the women loved and labored, sorrowed and sacrificed, as only women do.
AN ATTEMPT TO ORGANIZE AN AMERICAN RED CROSS. WAS THE TREATY OF GENEVA AN ENTANGLING ALLIANCE? EARLY DAYS OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS. DISASTERS. CUBAN RECONCENTRADOS. THE SPANISH WAR.
Though the first use of the Geneva cross as a means of designating a relief personnel was evidently made by the Commissary Relief Corps of the Sanitary Commission, our government had not signed the treaty, and even had it done so it would not be operative as an agreement under the condition of civil war. The treaty is not mandatory upon any country unless the enemy's government is also party to the compact, and in civil war the state or any party in rebellion cannot sign such a treaty until its government has been officially recognized by a number of the other signatory powers.
At the time of the convention Mr. Seward looked with doubtful eyes upon the propriety of sending representatives of our government save as informal delegates. He had a wholesome dread of any entangling foreign alliance that made him naturally cautious regarding anything in the nature of a treaty. The Secretary of State is reported to have said of the Convention:
"Our government, while always ready to forward all humanitarian action, has a well-understood policy of holding itself aloof from all European congresses or compacts of a political nature. The congress at Geneva being for the modification of international laws of war is one of great significance and the sending of delegates officially empowered to represent and act for the United States was from the many difficulties apparent, nearly or quite impossible. The government wishes to act as a free agent with option in the premises, and in its own good time. "
It was due to this attitude on the part of the government that many years passed before the United States affirmed this humanitarian treaty. In 1865, after the close of the war, and again in 1867, the Swiss Federal Council suggested to the United States Government the adoption of the treaty. These communications were sent by the State Department to the Secretary of War for recommendations and returned without comment.
On July 20, 1866, a number of men who had been the most active in the Sanitary Commission formed the American Association for the Relief of Misery on the Battlefields. Its objects were to obtain the governments adherence to the treaty of Geneva and to maintain a permanent relief society. Its badge was the Red Cross insignia on a white ground. Neither the government nor the public could it arouse into action favorable to the treaty, though during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 it received generous contributions, which were forwarded to the belligerent nations. It was the first Red Cross organization of the United States, but holding a anomalous position under a government that had not acceded to the treaty under which it must function in time of war, in 1871 its existence ceased.
In the autumn of 1869 Miss Clara Barton, one of the many women who had aided in the care of the sick and wounded during the Civil War, met at Geneva members of the International Red Cross Committee, and they expressed their regret that the United States Government, which through its own orders during the war had manifested such a humanitarian spirit, had not yet accepted the convention of Geneva. Miss Barton later witnessed the work of the Red Cross during the War of 1870. In 1877, after her return to America, Monsieur Moynier, President of the International Red Cross Committee decided to make a further effort to obtain the adherence to the treaty by our government. For this purpose a special letter was sent to Miss Barton to deliver to President Hayes. He in his turn referred it to the State Department, where it again met the fate of previous appeals. In 1881, through President Garfield, another effort was made, which elicited a response from Mr. Blaine, giving assurance that, with the President's approval, the adoption of the treaty would be recommended to Congress. Encouraged by this promise, a Red Cross organization was incorporated in the District of Columbia in July, 1881, under the name of "The American Association of the Red Cross, " of which Miss Clara Barton was president. President Garfield did not live to see the adoption of the treaty, but President Arthur and Mr. Blaine secured its confirmation by the Senate without a dissenting vote, in March, 1882. The President then issued a proclamation making public the convention, "To the end that the same in every article and clause thereof may be observed and fulfilled with good faith by the United States and citizens thereof"
Hardly had one small branch of the American Red Cross started into existence at Dansville, N. Y., before Nature gave it work to do. Across the great forests of Michigan swept one of those raging forest fires, so constant a menace to our Northwestern states.