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-