A Call for the Benevolent.
When our troops were preparing to take the field in August last, I was called upon by the Governor to open a department for the collection and disbursement of Sanitary Stores. The result has been most satisfactory. Patriotic and benevolent citizens have responded generously to the calls made upon them. Many of our noble women have put forth efforts and practiced self-denials that entitle them to lasting gratitude. The contributions have been liberal, and the work has become more general and systematic. The articles received have been disbursed by judicious agents, and relieved many sufferers. — While packages sent irregularly and to individuals or particular regiments will be liable to be miscarried or lost as heretofore, we can assure our friends that, under existing arrangements, contributions committed to this Bureau will reach the sick and wounded with entire certainty.
The demands are now greater than at any past hour. The battles of Murfreesboro and Vicksburg disabled their thousands. The exposures to which our troops have been subjected by camping on wet ground and inhaling the deadly miasma of the marshes of that unhealthy region, have consigned thousands to hospitals with lingering disease. The scurvy has already made its appearance among them.
This is not a time nor a cause for indulging in invidious distinctions. Every political party and shade of opinion has its representatives in our army. As one man they have cheerfully undergone every privation. — They have stood side by side with the bravest and best in the deadly conflict. They are stricken down together, and now their united voice appeals to us for help. They ask us, who are living in the enjoyment of peaceful homes, to send them speedy relief. There is now no public fund at command, nor sanitary goods in store. Enough could be spared from every farm house on the prairies and every comfortable home in our villages and cities to relieve the sufferings of some of them. Were they in our midst we would rise up as one man to provide for them. Shall distance make us cold or indifferent to their call? — While we have an abundance to send abroad to the famishing of all foreign lands, let it not be said that there is any lack for the heroes of our own.
Every article of food, clothing or bedding, useful in a sick room, is wanted immediately and in large quantities. As soon as a supply is received, messengers will be dispatched to the camps and hospitals, so that no time shall be lost in reaching the sufferers. Individual contributions are earnestly solicited. If sent promptly and abundantly, thousands may be restored to health and usefulness, who otherwise will return to us no more. The warmhearted citizens of Illinois were never appealed to in vain, and there is no mistaking their feelings in this case. They will respond to the present pressing demands for help, not only as a duty, but generously, as becomes a noble and patriotic people.
From the very beginning of the war, individual effort has been put forth to mitigate its horrors. The troops which have gone out from Illinois have been the recipients of the bounties of every loyal State. Those serving in the West, in common with all others, have received untold blessings through the Cincinnati Commission. The organization at Chicago has contributed largely to their relief, and sustained by the munificent contribution of citizens from adjacent States, as well as our own, is doing a noble work. The Western Commission at St. Louis, pioneer in the good cause in the West, has sent its agents close upon the path of our armies, in all their weary marches and bloody conflicts through Missouri and Arkansas. All these are pursuing their mercy with greater energy than at any time past, scattering blessings with an almost lavish hand, and yet much more remains for us to do.
In several States, central societies have been formed in every county, with contributing aid societies in each neighborhood, where the humblest efforts are gathered in. The county associations forward to one common depot, where the articles are assorted and repacked, and forwarded as they are required to the hospitals. Wherever this has been done the supplies have been vastly increased. A similar movement has been commenced in our own State, and it is hoped that it may become universal and permanent while the war lasts. The farmer can most readily contribute of his home-grown products. The merchant and men of other business, can provide the means for purchasing supplies. The mother and sister can find ample scope for their labors in soliciting and collecting the donations — Indeed, the work is peculiarly Woman's — to her lively sympathy and devotion it is commanded. Clergymen can co-operate, by laying the wants before their congregations and taking up collections — teachers, by interesting the people of their districts. The Exigencies of the hour call for prompt and vigorous action by all. By one united effort let us gather in an abundance of those articles most imperatively needed, and continue from this time forward to keep up an unfailing supply, until there be no more dangers to be met amid the rugged realities of campaigns, and we welcome again to our firesides those war-worn brothers whose lives our generous bounties have saved.
Suggestions. — Remittances of money should be sent by express — boxes or packages by railroad, and marked
Send a list of contents by mail; also, a duplicate list attached to the inside of the cover of the box. All the railroads of the State have generously offered to transport such shipments free of charge. Parties making them will be immediately notified on their receipt.
Correspondence is solicited from every locality respecting the collection of Sanitary Supplies, and the formation of Soldiers' Aid Societies. Communications &c., will receive prompt attention.
The following article are most needed — shirts, drawers, socks, comforts, sheets, towels, body wrappers of flannel, ring pads covered with oil silk, dried fruits of all kinds and in large quantities, canned fruits, domestic wines, vinegar and sweet pickles, butter, eggs, dried beef, codfish, potatoes, beets onions, parsnips, lemons, arrow root, pearled barley, tapioca, corn starch books, magazines and papers.
To check the ravages of the scurvy, large quantities of potatoes, onions and vinegar pickles are needed. Beets, carrots, &c., prepared in the usual way of pickling those vegetables, are very valuable for this purpose. — They should be put up in tight casks and forwarded immediately.
The following articles are always useful: dressing gowns, slippers, napkins, handkerchiefs, eye shades, combs, crutches, sponges, soap, needles and thread, bronchial troches, mustard and cayenne pepper.
Caution. — Glass or earthen cans, and all packages of canned fruit, &c., should be packed in boxes separate from other articles, to prevent the damages which often occurs when packed together. Each can should be surrounded by a layer of saw dust, pressed down firmly. Wax sealed cans do not endure transportation.