WARS have been, in general, made by Kings to serve the pur-
poses of their own ambition or revenge. This war was made ly the American
people, and willingly fought out by their own hands. The men who fought were
nearly all Americans, and mainly volunteers. They were regarded with the
deepest interest by those who remained at home. Ordinarily, the number of
soldiers who die of diseases caused by the hardships they endure is greater
than the number of those who die of wounds. The Americans were eager to save
their soldiers from the privations which waste so many brave lives. They
erected two great societies, called the Sanitary Commission and the
Christian Commission. Into the coffers of these societies they poured money
and other contributions to the amount of four millions sterling. The
Sanitary Commission sent medical officers of experience into the armies to
guide them in the choice of healthy situations for camps; to see that
drainage was not neglected; to watch over the food of the soldiers, and also
their clothing; to direct the attention of the Government to every
circumstance which threatened evil to the health of the army. Its agents
followed the armies with a line of waggons containing all manner of stores.
Everything the soldier could desire issued in profusion from those
inexhaustible waggons. There were blankets and great-coats and every variety
of underclothing. There were crutches for the lame, fans to soothe the
wounded in the burning heat of summer, bandages, and sponges, and ice, and
even mosquito-netting for the protection of the poor sufferers in hospital.
Huge wheeled-caldrons rolled along in the rear, and ever, at the close of
battle or toilsome march, dispensed welcome refreshment to the wearied
The Christian Commission undertook to watch over
the spiritual wants of the soldiers. Its president was George Ii. Stuart, a
merchant of Philadelphia, whose name is held in enduring honour as a symbol
of all that is wise and energetic in Christian beneficence. Under the
auspices of this society thousands of clergymen left their congregations and
went to minister to the soldiers. A copious supply of Bibles, tracts,
hymn-books, and similar reading matter was furnished. The agents of the
Commission preached to the soldiers, conversed with them, supplied them with
books, aided them in communicating with friends at home. But they had
sterner duties than these to discharge. They had to seek the wounded on the
field and in the hospital; to bind up their wounds; to prepare for them such
food or drink as they could use ;—in every way possible to soothe the agony
of the brave men who were giving their lives that the nation might he saved.
hundreds of ladies were thus engaged tending the wounded and sick, speaking
to them about their spiritual interests, cooking for them such dishes as
might tempt the languid appetite. The dying soldier was tenderly cared for.
The last loving message was conveyed to the friends in the far-off home.
Nothing was left undone which could express to the men who gave this costly
evidence of their patriotism the gratitude with which the country regarded
It resulted from the watchful care of time American
Government and people, that the loss of life by disease was singularly small
in the Northern army. There never was a war in which the health of the army
was so good, and the waste of life by disease so small.
When the war was over, the Americans addressed themselves, sadly and
reverently, to the work of gathering into national cemeteries the bones of
those who had fallen. The search was long and toilsome. The battle-ground
had been a continent, and men were buried where they died. Every
battle-field was searched. Every line by which an army had advanced, or by
which the wounded had been removed, was searched. Sometimes a long train of
ambulances had carried the wounded to hospitals many miles away. At short
intervals, during that sad journey, it was told that a man had died. The
train was stopped; the dead man was lifted from beside his dying companions;
a shallow grave was dug, and the body, still warm, was laid in it. A soldier
cut a branch from a tree, flattened its end with his knife, and wrote upon
it the dead man's name. This was all that marked his lowly resting-place.
The honoured dead, scattered thus over the continent, were now piously
gathered up. For many miles around Petersburg the ground was full of graves.
During several years men were employed in the melancholy search among the
ruins of the wide-stretching lines, in some cemeteries lie ten thousand, in
others twenty thousand, of the men who (lied for the nation. An iron tablet
records the name of the soldier and the battle in which he died. Often, alas
the record is merely that of "Unknown Soldier." Over the graves floats the
flag which those who sleep below loved so well. Nothing in America is more
touching than her national cemeteries. So much brave young life given
freely, that the nation might be saved! So much grateful remembrance of
those who gave this supreme evidence of their devotion.