History of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers
Complete Guide Book

DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS

A COMPLETE GUIDE-BOOK

OF THE

CENTRAL HOME.

 

CONTAINING

 

A FULL DESCRIPTION OF ALL THE OBJECTS OF INTEREST, INTERNAL GOVERNMENT, MISCELLANEOUS INCIDENTS, CELEBRATIONS, FESTIVALS, SCENERY, BUILDINGS, WORKSHOPS, BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, ETC., ETC., ETC.

 

               The city of Dayton, near which the Central Home is located, is a beautiful and busy city, with a population of about forty thousand, and is about midway between Columbus and Cincinnati. Its extensive streets are adorned with trees of luxuriant foliage, while most of the private residences are beautified with neat and tasteful flower-gardens, thus entitling it to the appellation of the Garden City. It is likewise noted for its numerous handsome churches and other imposing public edifices. From the city of Dayton the ground gradually ascends to a hill; and the spacious grounds, rich with green verdure and embellished with stately and ornamental shade-trees that cast their grateful shadows around, are entered through a handsome gateway. The entrance lodge is a model of elegance and beauty. It is built iii the old cottage style and attended by an old soldier whose polite and self-satisfied air betoken his thoughts as he gracefully salutes you, and by his action indicates a welcome to his beautiful home a little farther on, which now begins to reveal itself in all its grandeur.

 

HOW TO VISIT THE HOME.

 

               The Third Street Railroad connects with the Home Avenue Railroad, which delivers passengers at a total cost for fare of thirty cents, both ways, directly at the Home ground. On arriving at head-quarters competent guides, attired in the uniform of the Home and designated with a badge, will be found in readiness to receive visitors, conduct them over the ground, and impart such information as may be desired. Before following the guide it may interest the reader to learn something of the

 

INTERNAL GOVERNMENT OF THE HOME.

 

               Upon the governor devolves the important duties of the management and regulation of the Home; and when it is considered that it comprises men of all nationalities, and as soldiers generally are men of the world, with strong passions and varied temperaments, it will be conceded that this is not an easy task. The governor is Colonel E. F. Brown, formerly colonel of the 28th regiment of New York volunteers, who lost an arm in the service of his country. Colonel Brown is ably assisted in the performance of his arduous duties by Major J. B. Thomas, treasurer; Capt. R. E. Fleming, secretary; Dr. J. M. Weaver, surgeon; W. Earnshaw, chaplain ; Captain William Thompson,, steward; Mrs. E. L. Miller, matron; each one having separate and designated duties.

 

THE RECEPTION OF INMATES.

 

               After the applicant has presented his discharge, with a statement of his disability, he is examined by the surgeon in charge. After the medical officers have certified to the disability of the applicant, and it has been found that his disability is clearly traceable to his service in the army, and upon his showing an honorable discharge from the service and fully identifying himself, his case is submitted to a manager, and upon his approval, and his alone, the applicant is admitted. On admission the applicant is sworn to keep and observe the rules and orders the Board of Managers may make for the Home. He is then assigned to barracks and furnished with a complete suit of clothes of uniform style. Men in receipt of a pension from the Government are required to give up their pension papers to purchase their own clothes after the first suit, and to provide their own tobacco. Non-pensioners are allowed such articles of clothing as their necessities may actually require.

 

PAYMENT OF MONEY.

 

               The quarterly payments of the money to which the pensioners are entitled, are received by the treasurer on behalf of and as trustee and banker of the pensioners. When the amount of money has been placed to the credit of the pensioner he can make application for and receive the same, provided it is required for any proper or useful purpose ; but he will not be allowed the pension for the purpose of squandering it in dissipation. A large amount is from time to time transmitted to the wives and families of pensioners, by means of money-orders and registered letters; the Home post-office being legally constituted for this purpose. The pensioner may also allow his pension to accumulate in charge of the treasurer of the Home, when interest is allowed on the amount. Every man on taking his discharge is entitled to and receives the amount of money then standing to his credit.

 

RE-ADMISSION TO THE HOME.

 

               It frequently occurs that men who have taken a discharge from the Home on the supposition that they will be able to maintain themselves outside, have been compelled to return and apply for re-admission. These men are, on application, admitted temporarily until the next meeting of the Board of Managers, when their applications are considered and acted upon; and if no good reason exist to the contrary, they are re-admitted upon such conditions as the Board of Managers see fit to impose. It often happens that men having

good intentions fail of success; yet if they have shown reasonable effort they are usually re-admitted unconditionally; but if they have failed through unsoldierly conduct, or have squandered their money in a short time, the Board usually imposes such penalties as will teach them lessons of care and economy in the future, by directing that they do such labor as the governor may direct for a stated period; or if a pensioner, that he forfeit to the Home a certain portion of his pension for a stated period. These are wholesome regulations and have a tendency to quiet the restless spirit of the discontented soldier.

 

PENSIONERS AND NON-PENSIONERS.

 

               Of the inmates a considerable number are in receipt of pensions, liberally granted by the United States government, while many are not in receipt of any pension, owing to the fact that they have been unable, from various causes, to obtain the necessary evidence to establish their claim ; some from neglect on their own part in advancing their claims at the proper time, and others from disabilities breaking out subsequent to the close of the war and which they had considered and hoped might be only of a temporary character. For the purpose of admission to the Home the same strict evidence is not required as

is properly demanded at the pension bureau.

 

ORDER AND CLEANLINESS.

 

               The rules to be observed by inmates are for the perfecting of order and cleanliness; the suppression of bad language, intoxication, bringing

liquor into camp, not to be absent without leave, and the observance of proper respect for themselves and others.

 

PASSES AND FURLOUGHS.

 

               Any man desiring to be absent a day or two can have a pass for that purpose on application, and a furlough for thirty, sixty, or ninety days, as may be desired. On obtaining a furlough he is required to take and pay for his transportation, going and returning, before his furlough is given to him, the Board having an arrangement with all the railroads in the United States and Canada to transport inmates of the Home at one half the usual rates.

 

DISCHARGES.

 

               By a resolution of the Board of Managers the power to grant honorable discharges is delegated to the governor. He is expected to observe a good degree of caution, however, in its exercise. Beneficiaries often ask to be discharged, from a restless, uneasy disposition, preferring a change even at the risk of destitution and suffering. Some having fitted themselves by learning a trade at the Home-shops, or having obtained an education at the Home-school, are thereby enabled to earn a living. Whenever an honorable discharge is given it is accompanied with a certificate of good character, which is in a manner a recommendation to such, soldier seeking employment.

If one fails in making a living he can only be re-admitted on the order of the Board of Managers. Honorably discharged soldiers may easily obtain re-admission; but in cases of dishonorable discharge, not so easily. Dishonorable discharges for misconduct or desertion require the action and approval of the president of the Board.

               As a rule, there has been nothing of which to complain in the conduct of the beneficiaries of the institution. A few bad men have been dismissed or have deserted; all others have been obedient, tractable, arid contented, without exception, when not in liquor.

 

DISCIPLINE.

 

               It will be observed that each of the branches is placed from three to five miles from the city nearest its location. Experience demonstrates most surely the necessity for this, although economy in transportation at first thought would seem to demand the location of the asylums in the cities themselves. The soldiers without intoxicating drinks require no restraint, with very rare exceptions, and the only discipline needed is that of a well-regulated household where the word of the master is the law of kindness. If liquors can be kept from the soldier, he makes no trouble. Taught by his service the habit and necessity of obedience to his superiors, he is docile beyond other classes of men. But when influenced with drink lie becomes uncontrollable, insubordinate, and vicious; hence the necessity of keeping him away from temptation, to which he is hourly exposed in the city. Well and kindly disposed men see no harm nay, they view it as a sort of patriotic duty, to treat a wounded or one-armed or one-legged soldier, little reckoning the consequences of their hospitality.

               The discipline established has been designed to be firm but kind: for light offenses, a reprimand or deprivation of privileges; for graver offenses, confinement; for incorrigibility, expulsion. In this latter case the Board has established a regulation allowing a trial by court-martial, composed of officers and men of the branch, with appeal to the president of the Board.

 

AVERAGE RATE OF WAGES PAID.

 

               A large number of inmates are employed who receive money wages. Checks are also issued which will purchase at the Home store any article that may be obtained in a city store, and at the same price. The rate of pay for common labor is thirty cents per day in winter, and forty cents in summer. Skilled labor commands more, but in about the same proportion.

 

THE ELECTIVE FRANCHISE.

 

               All inmates of the Home who comply with the requirement of the law are entitled to the rights of citizens of the State of Ohio, and as such are entitled to vote at all elections of the state. On several election occasions it has been admitted by all parties that the peace, order, and good-will exhibited by so large and varied a number of voters and partisans compare favorably with any city or town in the state.

 

NUMBER OF INMATES.

 

               The number of inmates present and absent on the 30th of November, 1874, was two thousand five hundred and eighty-one, being five hundred and thirty-four over all the other branches combined; but they are continually coming and going a few on discharges and others on furloughs. From its central position and the healthfulness and salubrity of the climate, the number of inmates are considerably greater than at the other homes.

 

EMPLOYMENT OF INMATES.

 

               It has been a cherished object of the managers to encourage employment of every kind by giving moderate compensation for all kinds of useful labor. All non-commissioned officers, clerks, ward-masters, nurses, engineers, carpenters, cooks, bakers, waiters, etc., are inmates of the Home; and they are paid for their work. Workshops are numerous for all mechanical branches; and here can be seen, at all times, painters, cabinet-makers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, carpenters, plumbers, gas-fitters, tailors, shoe-makers, broom-makers, saddlers, harness- makers, cigar-makers, stocking-makers, upholsterers, book-binders, and printers, all busily engaged, and encouraged to work at their trades ; also, others to learn a trade if they are so disposed. In the construction, all the painting was done by the Home painters, some of whom have only one arm. Much of the furniture in the

buildings was made by disabled soldiers; and a considerable portion of the lighter work, such as smoothing and ornamenting the grounds, was done by them. They perform nearly all the work in the garden, orchards, and farm, and in improving and beautifying the place.

 

MEETING OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS.

 

               The Board of Managers of the national homes meet quarterly every year at one or other of the homes, or Washington city, for the purpose of transacting the necessary business relating to them and the making of such rules and regulations as may be necessary for their good government.


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