Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: the Political History of the United States Sanitary Commission

By William Quentin Maxwell; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
The Wheel of Fortune

-1-

AFFAIRS went from bad to worse for Olmsted. Members of the executive committee made "unbearable" men of business, he said; they submitted to no plan or discipline, but worked part of the time on their own business. Their grasp of Sanitary matters was not complete, because they lived far from actual operations; preoccupied with the possible misuse of money and power, they created resentments whenever they meddled in practical affairs. The committee countenanced a divided authority, and produced contradictory plans and announcements. In Olmsted's absence Dr. Agnew heard the complaints of agents, and dismissed two valuable men instead of referring the disagreement to the general secretary on his return.

The commission had never clearly defined the relations between the general secretary and the Western secretary. Newberry had acted as Olmsted's equal, not his subordinate. He invariably sent an excuse for not writing reports--illhealth, want of time, too much business, or the insignificance of his efforts. Without Western reports Olmsted could present no survey of operations. Ignorance of Western operations left an "enormous vacuum," said Bellows; it "vitiated" Sanitary statistics, supply estimates, and plans for monthly allotments. The commissioners viewed "such a defect . . . on so huge a scale . . . with a mysterious wonderment." On the other hand, Olmsted marred his own "glorious"

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Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: the Political History of the United States Sanitary Commission
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter I Making and Testing the Fifth Wheel 1
  • Chapter II The Soldier and the Sanitary Commission, 1861 31
  • Chapter III The Army Hospitals, Surgeons, and Nurses, 1861 50
  • Chapter IV Ambulance Corps, General Supplies, And Medicines, 1861 70
  • Chapter V 93
  • Chapter VI Mixed Blessings 116
  • Chapter VII The Melancholy Battles 144
  • Chapter VIII Battles Within Battles 164
  • Chapter IX The Ledger of Battle 185
  • Chapter X Wheels of Battle 202
  • Chapter XI The Wheel of Fortune 216
  • Chapter XII The Nettles of War 248
  • Chapter XIII From Fifth Wheel to Red Cross 267
  • Chapter XIV Conclusion 292
  • Biographical Notes 317
  • Sources 351
  • Bibliography 355
  • Index 361
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