Ferman, R. G. (Rev. and Secretary of the Commission) 1864 The Western Sanitary Commission: A Sketch. Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair, St. Louis.

page 11 ....From the principal cities and town of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island... and many other towns, boxes came filled with new blankets, sheets, comforters, pillows, towels, socks, mittens, bandages, and many little articles of convenience for the soldier's private use, such as needle books, pin cushions, handkerchiefs, games for amusement, little boxes of salve for sores and wounds, all showing the thoughtful sympathy and affection of the noble women of the country....

It was an interesting spectacle to see these boxes opened in the store rooms of the Commission, and on examination to find socks and mittens (of which there were many thousands pairs,) in anticipation of the needs of the winter,) tracts and manuscript letters, full of words of advice, encouragement and sympathy. Sometimes there would be found in the toe of a sock a letter address,

To the soldier who shall wear these socks: Be of good cheer! May these socks keep you feet warm, while you stand on your post, or march on to battle and victory!

May the rebellion soon be subdued, and you have the satisfaction of having aided in the glorious work.

Sometimes quite lengthly epistles would be folded up in these presents, with the names and address of the writers given, and we have known some very pleasant correspondence to follow from these friendly missive to the soldiers. In one instance a pocket bible was contained among the sanitary stores, having the name and address of the giver, and was given to an intelligent and faithful soldier at Rolla, who wrote the lady an acknowledgment of the gift, and a very interesting and profitable correspondence resulted.


Desk in the Boston office of the U. S. Sanitary commission.
Credit to the Massachusetts Commandery Military Order of the Loyal Legion and the U.S. Army Military History Institute.


Detail of a pair of socks on the desk of the Boston office of the U. S. Sanitary Commission.


Detail of a quilt across the back of a chair in the Boston office of the U. S. Sanitary Commission.


Wagon belonging to the U. S. Sanitary Commission. Wagons moved supplies between depots and to battlefield hospitals. Photograph from the collections of the Library of Congress.


U. S. Sanitary Commission banner suspended from a building used to collect and disperse supplies. The Western Sanitary Commission carried out a similar function west of the Mississippi River. A U. S. Signal Corps photograph (No. 111-B-147 from the Brady Collection) in the National Archives.

Last Updated: 15-September-2005
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