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

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

CHAPTER XIV
Conclusion

For time is like a fashionable host,
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch'd as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing.

William Shakespeare,

Troilus and Cressida, 111, 3, 165-169

COMPARED with the British Sanitary Commission, said Bellows, the United States Sanitary Commission was born "paralytic." In the beginning the commissioners consulted the past to learn the conditions of people herded together in unhygienic quarters; but only the findings of inspectors could reveal the actual state of Union troops; and only theory hand in hand with inquiry could say what ought to be maximum security and efficiency. In direct relations with army officers the Commission tried to carry out the commands of the Medical Bureau; in conjunction with state governments and benevolent societies it worked for uniformity in plans and cooperation in action; for such extra purposes as the law did not provide, it had to find money and supplies.

Time and emergencies brought new duties, as the commission began to distribute supplies and develop the functions of relief. Before the end of 1861 it was recording the burials of those who had died in hospitals and battles. Enrolled as associate members, doctors prepared medical monographs, which reported the latest findings in medicine and

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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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