The Soldiers' Home.
One of the most useful institutions located in Cairo, is the Soldiers' Home, situated on 3d street, just in the rear of the St. Charles Hotel, and at present under the control of Mr. Shipman, of Chicago, a gentleman in every manner qualified for the responsible position he occupies. We had the pleasure of being shown over the establishment on Thursday, and we must say that, when we were a soldier, such a "home" as that would have been hailed as a God-send, and the men who are daily and nightly accommodated within its walls with good food and comfortable lodging, must feel thankful to the U. S. Sanitary Commission, their government, Mr. Shipman and the lady matron of the Home. If they do not, then are they ungrateful.
Everything about the Home is kept neat, tidy and home-like. Everything is found in its place. Regularity and order, as far as possible for so large a concern, prevail in all its departments, and everything moves smoothly and with regularity. We learn that, for months past it has been no uncommon thing for the Home to "dine" or "sleep" as high as 1,200 men per day, and this without confusion, trouble or haste on the part of the employees of the institution. The soldier receives his ticket at the office, passes into the ordinary and takes his dinner in as orderly a style as does the gentleman with shoulder-straps and gold lace, at his hotel in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, or Cairo — and what is more he has about as good a dinner. At least it is preferable to hard-tack and swine-fat.
Then at night the beds are clean, warm, and sleep-engendering. When the soldier takes his ticket, his name is registered, with the number of his regiment and company, as in a hotel, and he becomes a guest until the time for which he enters expires. Frequently this is for only a single night, or a single meal. Sometimes for a week's lodging and seven day's board, according to governing circumstances.
The table at the Home is properly set out with clean ware, somewhat different from the tin plates and wooden forks, extemporized by the boys in blue for field duty, and the dishes are filled with well cooked and palatable food, remarkable for being warm and not scorched or burned, as is too often the case with the cooked rations the soldier hurriedly gets up, upon the bivouac and the camp fire.
We were shown, at the Home, that the arrangements for cooking are almost perfect. A patent bread-cutter, an invention of Mr. Shipman's, we believe, attracted our particular attention and appeared admirably adapted for the purpose. It should be patented, and Maxwell, of the St. Charles, should purchase the right to use it in his princely larder. Maxwell is a man who "knows on which side his bread is buttered," and has his eyes open to all manner of improvements. Let his look at the double-back-action, cross-cut, bread-divider.
In fact, citizens, as well as soldiers, have plentiful reason to thank Gen. Grant, the Sanitary Commission, and Mr. Shipman, that we have a Soldier's Home in Cairo. What we would do without it, it is difficult to tell. The benefit it has been and is daily to all classes, is easy to be seen by all men. Mr. Shipman has so long filled the position of Superintendent, and Agent of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, that some of our oldest inhabitants are beginning to call him a permanent fixture and a permanent denizen of Cairo, but we are assured that his home and family remain in Chicago, where he might also have been at this time, but for the interest he early took in the war, and the duty seemingly his to contribute his mite to the general advancement of the cause of the common country. A kind-hearted, courteous and affable gentleman, many a poor soldier will, in the future, bless his memory. Very few men or women in the Union have contributed more to the cause than the Superintendent and the Matron of the Soldier's Home. — Long may they live, and happily.