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The United States Sanitary Commission

June 18, 1861 - President Lincoln signs a bill making the United States Sanitary Commission an official agency.

The history of our Civil War will ever have associated with it the work of this great organization, prompted by divine charity, and guided by Providence, and without a parallel in human annals.

The institution sprang from a meeting of a few New York ladies, guided by that clear-headed, great-hearted man, Rev. Dr. Henry W. Bellows. One million dollars in cash reached their treasury the first three years, of which sum fifteen-sixteenths was expended for supplies and transportation; the other sixteenth for the support of the homes, lodges, hospital directory, hospital and camp inspection, and in the machinery of distribution. The officers and members of committees gave their services and time gratuitously. They supported more than forty Soldiers' Homes, scattered over the whole field of war. Two thousand three hundred sick and wounded soldiers was the average daily ministration in these homes - over 800,000 in one single year. A Claim Agency, a Back-pay agency, and a Pension Agency were supported, and at no cost to the soldiers whose interests were protected and served. A Hospital-directory costing $20,000 per year was sustained, in which anxious relatives and friends could readily find the sick and wounded. They had sixty hospital inspectors constantly in the field, and trains of hospital cars, in which disabled soldiers were carried to homes and hospitals, and provisions carried to the battlefields. They would expend vast sums of money to meet the exigencies of a great battle. After Murfreesboro, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the commission expended from three to ten dollars for the comfort of each wounded soldier. Nor was such an expense extravagant, considering the blessings and comfort disposed at the very moment most needed, and when the General Government could ill spare the money or machinery to carry out so beneficent a scheme.

The Soldier in Our Civil War: A Pictorial History of the Conflict, 1861-1865. Edited by Paul F. Mottelay and T. Campbell-Copeland. Stanley Bradley Publishing Company, New York. 1890. Volume II, p.285.

Elisha Harris, Westminster, Vermont, co-founder of the Sanitary Commission.

Resources referencing the Sanitary Commission on the website:

Correspondence of Eugene Rolfe, 3rd Vermont Light Artillery

Alexander Teyvaw's Struggle to get his Pay

L. E. Chittenden's "An Unknown Heroine," contains several references to the Sanitary Commission in chapters 7, 9, 10, 13, 15 and 16.

William Thomas Carpenter, U.S. Sanitary Commission

Charles Seaton, U.S. Sanitary Commission

Battle of the Wilderness (see conclusion, bottom of page)

Hospital Transport Service

Vermont Civil War Hospital Notes by L. E. Chittenden

The Women of Essex During the Civil War