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

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

CHAPTER XII The Nettles of War

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ON February 20, 1864, the Union forces suffered defeat at Olustee, Florida. The Sanitary Commission furnished all supplies, because the medical director had made no provision against attack. Agents met and cared for the first wounded and carried the last from the field. Soldiers of the 54th. Massachusetts tied ropes to the broken-down train bearing the wounded and dragged it twenty-three miles to Jacksonville. In April, 1864, General Banks came to grief at Red River. New Orleans alone raised $2,000 to support the Sanitary relief program.

Lieutenant General U. S. Grant took command of the armies of the United States before the spring campaign. His freedom from envy and vanity captured the popular imagination, his wisdom growing from singleness of purpose. To Strong, the general behaved like "an earnest business man--prompt, clearheaded, and decisive"--who held out every encouragement to the Sanitary Commission. General Grant suggested a New England farmer, said Bellows. His manners were "plain"; his speech was slow and stumbling; his face expressed stolidity. Grant clearly felt like saying anything he wanted, but he was neither "addicted to expression" nor did he find it easy. His force lay in his judgment of men, thought Bellows. The general surrounded himself with able minds and willingly took their advice. Bellows concluded:

Some men are great from the absence of weaknesses, vanities and self-conceit; from their freedom from cant, pretension and self-

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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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