St. Louis Ladies Union Aid Society

The LUAS of St. Louis was organized on August 2, 1861; the Western Sanitary Commission (WSC) was organized in St. Louis on September 10, 1861).The LUAS quickly grew in size until meeting in private homes was impossible and this problem was overcome when the WSC offered a room in the Military Hospital, corner of Fifth and Chestnut in St.Louis, as a meeting place. These were tense and difficult times in St. Louis and passions ran high on both sides. Mrs. Anna Clapp, President of the LUAS, had to contend with her angry neighbors who had barged into her home with the intent of removing the Union flag that her husband, Alfred Clapp, had raised over their house. The organization of LUAS came after the Camp Jackson incident in St. Louis and before the death of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon at the Battle of Wilson's Creek , the replacement of the Governor Clairborne Jackson with pro-Union Hamilton R. Gamble, and the arrival of General John C. Fremont.

General and Mrs.Fremont

One of the General's most valuable aids was his wife, Jessie Fremont, a native of St. Louis and daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton. She quickly evaluated the refugee and casualty crisis in St. Louis and urged her husband to approve Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot's plan for an independent Western Sanitary Commission. Gen. Fremont created the WSC with Special Order No. 159. The WSC, with the aid of the LUAS, would prove extremely valuable in providing various kinds of comforts to the soldiers and in the creation of hospital ships. hospital shipOne such ship, the City of Louisiana, played an important role in transporting wounded troops from the Shiloh battlefield to the hospitals at Jefferson Barracks and Benton Barracks in St. Louis. The women wore black dresses with large white aprons.

LUAS members in St. Louis and other Northern cities and towns provided a wealth of handmade items and cash to be distributed by the WSC. The LUAS held weekly meetings on Friday at 3 PM during which hospital reports were heard and business matters were addressed. LUAS members were appointed as visitors to all the hospitals in the City and vicinity: New House of Refuge, Jefferson Barracks, City General, Good Samaritan, Marine, Pacific, Hickory Street, Benton Barracks, Lawson, Eliot, Schofield Barracks, City and Sisters, Invalid Corps Hospital, and the Gratiot Prison Hospital. LUAS members hastened to the battlefields where they dealt firsthand with the wounded. Condition were very difficult in several situations. Arethusa Forbes and Adaline Couzins were badly frostbitten while working in the field during the winter of 1862, Mrs. Adaline Couzins would be wounded, later in the war, by a minie ball during the siege of Vicksburg. Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge, a LUAS member serving on the hospital ships, would die in 1864 from exhaustion. The death of Mary Palmer was also linked to exhaustion related to her work with LUAS.

The LUAS distributed religious tracts prepared by the U. S. Christian Commission, rolled bandages, employed nearly 200 indigent families of Union soldiers, organized a Contraband Relief Society, organized a Cherokee Relief Society, and helped established a refugee home.

At the end of the war LUAS members were given a certification of appreciation for their war work.

This page is the result of research by Professors Neathery B. Fuller and Michael J. Fuller, St. Louis Community College. It is a personal page and does not officially represent the LUAS reenactor group. The Ladies Union Aid Society (LUAS) of St. Louis is an active Civil War reenacting group consisting of members in Missouri and Kansas. Members of LUAS participated in the Chicago Sanitary Fair living history program during 1996. During 1997, they participated in the living history programs at Shiloh and at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri.


Last Updated: 19-May-2005




Selected References


Coalier, Paula *best recent article on LUAS*
1990 "Beyond Sympathy: The St. Louis Ladies' Union Aid Society and the Civil War".
Gateway Heritage Magazine. Summer issue. pages 38-51.


Bender, Robert Patrick *new article on Sanitary Fair of 1864*
2001 "This Noble and Philanthropic Enterprise: The Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair of 1864 and the Practice of Civil War Philanthropy." Missouri Historical Review. Vol XCV, No. 2, pages 117-139.


Drake, Charles D. *book published by LUAS!*
1864 Union and Anti-Slavery Speeches, delievered during the Rebellion.
Published by the LUAS by Applegate & Co., Cincinnati.

*This entire publication by the LUAS firmly demonstrates the fact that their membership held strong abolitionist views. Copies of this book were sold as a fundraiser at the The Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair of 1864.*


Brockett, L. P. annd Mary C. Vaughan *first hand accounts *
1867 Woman's Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience.
Published by Zeigler, McCurdy & Co., Philadephia/Chicago/St. Louis/Boston.

*Pages 630 to 642 is a chapter on the St. Louis LUAS that was clearly compiled from information provided by James E. Yeatman (WSC), Rev. N. M. Mann (WSC) and the actual members of LUAS. Other references to St. Louis LUAS are scattered throughout the text. The writing of this text, according to the preface, began in Autumn of 1865 by Mrs. Vaughan.*


Holt, Earl K. *Chapter 4 deals with WSC and LUAS*
1984 William Greenleaf Eliot: Conservative Radical. Published by the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis.


Lutz, Frank J. (Editor) *describes his work with WSC and LUAS*
1904 The Autobiography and Reminiscenes of S. Pollak, MD. St. Louis Medical Review.


Herr, Pamela *Chapter 22 details Jessie Fremont in St. Louis*
1987 Jessie Benton Fremont: A Biography. Published by Franklin Watts of New York.


Winter, William C.
1994 The Civil War in St. Louis. Published by the Missouri Historical Society.


Van Ravenswaay, Charles
1991 Saint Louis: An Informal History of the City and its People, 1764-1865. Published by the Missouri Historical Society.