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History of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers
Soldiers Home



"What flower is this that greets the morn,

Its hues from heaven so freshly born?

With burning star and flaming band,

It kindles all the sunset land:

Oh! tell us what its name may be;

Is this the flower of liberty?

It is the banner of the free,

The starry flag of Liberty! "




               The maimed and crippled soldier, prostrated in his physical powers and thereby rendered incompetent for the active duties of life, is no longer

without a "local habitation and a name," of which, alas ! too many have been deprived by the consequences of " grim-visaged war." By the wise forethought and liberality of a grateful people, he is now enabled to realize a far better reward for his services than the starving prospects of a posthumous fame. The ample provision which a humane and generous government has made for his present and future earthly comfort, is to him of far more importance than the inscription of his name upon the loftiest memorial pile.


"To win a name in story

That shall never know decay;

What is fame when he who won it,

Can not hear what people say."


               The Soldiers' Home is a "living monument; one upon which the war-worn veteran may gaze with pleasurable emotion as he proudly contemplates it and exclaims: "I live in the hearts of my countrymen!"


               To the United States belongs the honor of establishing military retreats fully calculated to convey the impression of a home, with the surrounding influences of its freedom, its usefulness, and its enjoyments. Other nations, it is true, have not been forgetful in the bestowment of honors and rewards upon their returned warriors, and in providing for their sick and wounded, but it remained for the American people to administer to the necessities of her brave and deserving soldiers by calling into lively exercise that better attribute of human nature which teaches to feel another's woe. Republics, then, it is clearly settled, are not ungrateful. History affords some instances of substantial marks of appreciation in which other nations held the services of their soldiers, which it may be well to notice here as forming a contrast with what has been done in later days on the American continent. The armies of Egypt, as mentioned in ancient history, are the first of which we have any positive knowledge. The warlike caste of Egypt was divided into two classes, the hermetybii and calasirii the first one hundred and sixty thousand, the other two hundred and fifty thousand strong, in the best times. It appears that these two classes were distinguished from each other merely by age or length of service, so that the calasirii, after a certain number of years, passed into the hermetybii, or reserve. The whole army was settled in military colonies, and an ample extent of lands were set apart to each man as an equivalent for his services. Modern history points us to the grand undertaking of Louis XIV., who in 1670 founded the establishment at Paris known as the Hotel des Invalides. The edifice, which covers sixteen acres of ground, can furnish accommodation for five thousand inmates. All soldiers, whether of land or sea, who were actually disabled by wounds, or have served thirty-six years and obtained a pension, are entitled to the privileges of the institution. In 1682 Charles II founded the military asylum at Chelsea, England. It was completed at a cost of $750,000, and was built to accommodate five hundred resident pensioners, besides which there was a large body of out-pensioners. Greenwich Hospital, on the banks of the Thames River, was opened for disabled seamen in the year 1705. The edifice consists of four quadrangular buildings, inclosing a square each, bearing the name of the sovereign in whose reign it was erected. Let us now consider what has been done for




               The whole number of men enlisted during the late war of the rebellion was two millions six hundred and eighty thousand five hundred and twenty-five. At the termination of active military movements in 1865, two hundred and four government hospitals, with capacity for one hundred and thirty-six thousand eight hundred and ninety-four beds, were in operation. Within the next eight months upward of one hundred and seventy of these establishments were discontinued, and the vast accumulation of surplus medicines and hospital supplies were disposed of at auction. Most of the surgeons of volunteers and chaplains to the hospitals were mustered out of service during the year. The returns of sick and wounded show that the number of cases treated in government hospitals from 1861 to July 1865 amounted to one million fifty-seven thousand four hundred and twenty- three.

               The charitable associations which had been called into existence by the war now found the necessity for their services removed. In the brief but bloody campaign of March and April, 1865, the Sanitary Commission continued its noble and humane work. The sick and wounded were cared for, their friends informed of their situation, their pensions, bounties, and back pay collected; and when the armies were finally disbanded the soldiers' homes were thrown open all along their various routes to welcome them, and agents of the commission met them at railroad stations and steamboat landings to invite them to the homes and lodges, and to protect them as far as possible from fraud. The commission also greatly increased their agencies, and, without fee or reward, collected the arrearages and pay due to the soldiers.

It established at its central depot in Washington, with branches in all the principal cities, bureaus of information and employment, for securing to all soldiers desiring employment such situations as they were capable of filling. The receipts of the commission during the spring months were large, but its disbursements were larger. On the 1st of June, 1865, a sanitary fair was opened in Chicago, Illinois, for the purpose of raising funds for the maintenance of the claim agencies, and other agents of the commission which were deemed advisable to continue in operation. About 325,000, above all expenses, were received. It was officially announced on the 26th of April, 1865, that the contributions to the commission from California to that date amounted to $1,199,675.51; that of Nevada to $99,512.46; Oregon, $20,733.92; making a total from the Pacific slope of $1,395,539.45. The Metropolitan Fair in New York yielded $1,184,145, and the Central Fair in Philadelphia $1,035,398.96. The final campaign of the war demanded new efforts from the Christian Commission, and its agents labored with new zeal and energy. No official statements were made, but they are understood to have approached half a million of dollars, which was expended for the promotion of the physical, intellectual, and religious welfare of the soldiers and sailors. As the war closed the commission disbanded, and discontinued its work.




               The important part of the business of the year 1866 was the selection and distribution of artificial limbs for maimed soldiers. Twenty-three models were approved, and six thousand four hundred and ten limbs of all kinds were given out. In consequence of many instances of fraud, it was recommended that the applicant should receive the established money value of the limb instead of an order upon the manufacturer.

               During the year the government paid great attention to soldiers' graves and cemeteries. The former were carefully attended to, and the occupant's name and rank put at the head of each grave, as well as on the records of the cemetery. At first this was done on wooden head-boards, but the Government, with a view to make the headboards more lasting, ordered them to be constructed of marble. Forty-one national cemeteries were established, and into these had already been gathered the remains of one hundred and four thousand five hundred and twenty-six Union soldiers on the 30th of June, 1866. Sites for the additional cemeteries were selected and the work upon them was vigorously prosecuted. It was estimated that the national cemeteries would be required to receive the remains of two hundred and forty-nine thousand three hundred and ninety-seven soldiers. The average cost of removals and re-interments then accomplished was reported at nine dollars and seventy-five cents, amounting in the aggregate to $1,404,791; and an additional expenditure of $1,609,294 will probably be needed. The alphabetical registers of the dead filed in the office of the medical department contain the names of two hundred and fifty thousand white soldiers and twenty thousand colored soldiers. In 1872 there were three hundred and eight cemeteries in the United States for the interment of soldiers, of which eighty-one were known as national cemeteries. In the latter, two hundred and thirty-eight thousand six hundred and sixty-six United States soldiers are buried, out of a total of two hundred and fifty-one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven interments. Seventy-six thousand two hundred and sixty-three bodies remained to be interred, making the three hundred and twenty-eight thousand six hundred and ninety. Of Confederate soldiers, twenty thousand eight hundred and sixty-one were interred. The several national cemeteries embrace an area of eighteen hundred acres, acquired at a cost of $170,000. The total cost of the national cemeteries, when completed, is estimated at $3,500,000. /The Gettysburg cemetery has been transferred to the War Department. There is a cemetery owned by the United States near the City of Mexico, which has been put in order recently, the inclosure having previously become somewhat dilapidated. It is proposed that this ground be hereafter classed with the other national cemeteries, and cared for in the same way.








               Under the act of July, 1866, authorizing the payment of additional bounties, there had been recorded to October, 1867, four hundred and seven thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven claims, of which one hundred and six thousand three hundred and seventy-eight have been made, an expenditure of $9,352,797, leaving three hundred and two thousand four hundred and seventy-nine to be settled. During the year, one thousand other claims for bounties and arrears of pay had also been disposed of, at an expenditure of 3,553,203.




               While the United States pays more money every year in pensions than any other nation on the globe, it is a noteworthy fact that not a single pension is paid in this country in the civil service of the government. Of the thirty millions of dollars which go annually through congressional appropriations in payment of pensions, every dollar goes to invalid officers and soldiers of the army or navy, or their living representatives. In no other country is the national defense in times of war made the sole ground for this aid extended to those who have become disabled or superannuated in the government service. The pension rolls on June 30, 1867, contained the names of one hundred and fifty-three thousand one hundred and ninety -three persons, of whom more than one hundred and fifty thousand were army invalids, widows and other representatives of soldiers in the late war; the remainder are on the rolls of previous wars. The lust pensioner of the revolutionary war was Samuel Downing, of Edinburg New York, who died in 1867. The amount paid for pensions in 1872 was $30,169,340. The whole number of soldiers in the civil war, as before stated, was two million six hundred and eighty-eight thousand five hundred and twenty-three. The total number of claims for invalid pensions was one hundred and seventy-six thousand, being but six per cent of the whole number of enlisted men. The total number of claims on hand at the beginning of the year was ninety-one thousand one hundred and seventy-eight; the number received during the year was twenty-six thousand five hundred and seventy-four; the number disposed of was thirty-nine thousand one hundred and seventy-eight, making a net gain of twelve thousand six hundred and four. The number of claims on file was seventy-nine thousand and eighty-five. On June 30, 1872, there were on the rolls the names of ninety-five thousand four hundred and five invalid military pensioners, and one hundred and thirteen thousand five hundred arid forty-eight widows, orphans, and dependent relatives, making an aggregate of two hundred and eight thousand nine hundred and twenty-three army pensioners.




               At the close of the war hospitals and soldiers' homes were established in most of the loyal states. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan,

Ohio, and Indiana were early in motion, and everything that medical skill, care, and comfort could suggest was done for the returned soldier.

The gradual disappearance of hospitals and soldiers' retreats resulted in the creation of national homes on a more extended and substantial basis.

The main object had in view was to enlarge their usefulness and to extend their benefits to the disabled soldiers of every loyal state. To carry this purpose into effect, an act of congress was obtained and approved March 31, 1865, and a board of managers appointed. The Board at its first meeting elected Gen. B. F. Butler president, and Hon. L. B. Gunckel secretary. The organization has been continued ever since. The act of congress authorized the Board of Managers to establish one or more homes; and under it the

Central Home was established at Dayton, Ohio, the Eastern Branch at Augusta, Maine, and the Western Branch at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Subsequently a fourth branch, under the same organization, was established at Hampton, Virginia, the mildness of the climate there being more favorable to some cases of disease. There is also a home in Washington City, exclusively for the benefit of soldiers who have served in the regular army.




               In the selection of an eligible site for the Central Home, the attention of the Board of Managers was directed to the rich and fertile valley of the Miami, so well known for its beauty and salubrity; and finding it admirably adapted to the purposes of a home, they at once entered into negotiations for the purchase of five hundred and forty acres of land, about three miles west of the city of Dayton, and in 1867 active work was commenced. The lands at the time of the purchase were in the ordinary condition of farm lands of the state, possessing, however, natural beauty and great facilities for improvement. Above all, the supply of water was both abundant and excellent. On the grounds are several mineral springs, two of which have rare medicinal properties. Chaplain T. B. Van Horn, of the United States Army, was detailed by the Secretary of War, at the request of the Board of Managers, to lay out the grounds; and the Home, with its broad avenues, beautiful lakes, splendid groves, and cultivated lawns, presents one of the most attractive places in the country. The site overlooks the city and the beautiful scenery of the Miami valley for miles around. The work of improvement has been prosecuted most vigorously, and alterations and additions are being made continually. Although but a few years have elapsed since its commencement, the Central Branch may be regarded as the largest and most flourishing institution of its class in the world.




               This home consists of four substantial brick buildings, inclosing a square with a piazza running in and around, connecting the whole. One of the buildings is a well- adapted and commodious hospital, with the necessary offices. The other buildings comprise the head-quarters, library and reading-room, general dining-hall, and quarters for officers and inmates. Detached from the buildings is a music hall, which is also used as a chapel.

               In the basement of this building are billiard rooms for the recreation of the inmates. A large farm and garden are cultivated by the inmates, and the produce supplies the requirements of the Home. A large shoe manufactory, supplied with valuable machinery, is in full operation, employing the time of one fifth of the whole number of inmates. Great advantages are thus imparted to the inmates, both physically and morally, from the enjoyment it affords to both body and mind, besides enabling a considerable number to remit sums of money to their relatives at home, in addition to providing themselves with many luxuries and comforts not provided by the institution. Divine services are held, amusements provided, and the library with its rich treasures is always available for the intellectual feast. The total number of inmates present and absent on .November 30, 1874, was eight hundred and eight. General W. S. Tilton is the deputy governor of the Eastern Branch.





               The location of this home is one of the most beautiful in the state. It is surrounded by trees of almost primeval greatness, and overlooks the inland sea of Lake Michigan, the city of Milwaukee with its ninety thousand inhabitants, and a vast extent of country. The Home is comprised within

a large building three hundred feet in length, with corresponding projecting wings, and a tower rising in the center one hundred and eighty feet high.

The first floor contains the offices of the commandant, surgeon, chaplain, treasurer, quarter-master, adjutant, and other officers; also the library and reading-room. The dining-room on this floor will seat six hundred men comfortably. On the second floor, over the dining-room, is a corresponding hall, which is used as a chapel for divine service, and also as a hall for concerts and lectures. The second, third, and fourth stories are appropriated for sleeping-rooms, twelve men being allotted to each room. There is a billiard- room and bowling alley for recreation; also, bathrooms, post-office, telegraph office, store, etc. To these have recently been added commodious barracks, workshops, and a handsome three-story hospital, capable of accommodating one hundred and fifty patients. The farm and garden comprise between four and five hundred acres of the best lands in the state. The cultivation of the farm as a source of profit is perhaps the most successful of either of the homes. The garden and the grounds are laid out and preserved with great taste and beauty. The number of inmates present and absent on November 30, 1874, was six hundred and fifty-one. The library contains about three thousand volumes; and the spiritual welfare and moral culture of the inmates are carefully administered and cared for.




               This Home is located at Hampton, not far from Fortress Monroe, and overlooking that magnificent portion of Chesapeake Bay known as Hampton Roads. The building was formerly used as a college for ladies, and is well adapted for its present purpose. On account of the great mildness of the climate, the location is very favorable to those suffering from pulmonary complaints, and also for many chronic and acute diseases. The colored disabled soldiers being equally entitled to the benefit of a home, it was supposed that a southern climate would be better suited to their requirements. To the main building have already been added commodious barracks, a hospital, and an amusement hall. The total number of inmates

present and absent on Nov. 30th, 1874, was five hundred and eighty-eight. The affairs of the Southern Branch are ably administered by Capt.P. T. Woodfin, deputy governor.




               An experience of more than nine years has convinced the Board of Managers of the national homes of their ability to receive and care for all the disabled soldiers entitled to admission under the act of congress. The object had in view from the beginning was to provide all the comforts of a home, chapels for religious services, halls for concerts, lectures, and miscellaneous entertainments, hospitals, with experienced surgeons and nurses, libraries and reading rooms, amusement halls, school -rooms, post-offices, telegraph offices, stores, workshops, etc. Another laudable purpose of the Board of Managers was to afford to those desiring it ample facilities for preparing themselves for active employment. In the schools they may educate themselves for book-keepers,, clerks, school-teachers, telegraph operators, etc., or in the workshops learn new trades suited to their peculiar disability, in the meantime insuring suitable compensation for labor performed in the institution. All these purposes have thus far been admirably carried out, thus inspiring the inmates with a sense of manly independence. Great care has been taken by the Board of Managers to impress upon the minds of those who may apply for admission the fact that they are not entering a hospital nor an alms-house, but a bona fide home, where subsistence, care, education, religious instruction, and amusements are provided for disabled soldiers by the congress of the United States, to be paid for from the "forfeiture and fines of deserters from the army." The provision is thus divested of the humiliating feature of charity. In the language of the Board, it is a contribution by the bounty -jumpers and bad soldiers to the brave and deserving, and is their right, to be forfeited only by bad conduct at the Home.


               The following beautiful tribute from the pen of Lizzie Boynton Harbert is appropriate:


               "As an American woman I proudly quote the official statement now before me which assures the people that notwithstanding the enormous debt incurred by our civil war, yet the United States government through its agents 'has full ability and accommodations to take care of every disabled volunteer soldier who applies to them; that they (these agents) have never refused to take care of such honorably discharged soldier in a single instance, and that it is the fault of the soldier alone if he is supporting himself by begging, or has become a dependent upon the bounty of any one, or is asking aid from any state in the Union.' And remembering as one of the 'red letter days' of my life the day devoted to the National Asylum at Dayton, Ohio, in compliance with the request of many western friends I attempt a description of said institution, one of the three built by the government, the other two being located at Augusta, Maine, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

               "Some months since I wandered through that American 'holy of holies,’ the national cemetery at Arlington. As we were leaving, remembering the patience of the one-armed soldier who had escorted us all day, while we lingered long by the hillocks marked ' unknown ' and breathed a prayer for somebody's darling, one of our party placed a bank note in his hand, with the request that he would accept it for the little ones at home (for he had told us of them), but with quiet dignity he returned the proffered gift, saying, ' I thank you, Madame, for the delicate manner in which you offer me the money, but the American government pays us well for the care of its dead." As we drove away my thought was, ‘Thank God for this great and generous country of ours,' a thought re-echoed yet more intensely when a few months later at the 'Soldiers' Home,' I discovered how grandly and beautifully this American government cares for its living.




               "Clara Barton wept and agonized at Strasbourg because her own generous American people were so distant, and let no American talk of the 'good old times ' who has witnessed a great nation battle as ours did in war and tax itself as ours has in peace.


               "Long live the Republic!"




               When a volunteer soldier desires admission he may apply by letter to either of the managers, whereupon blank applications will be sent to the applicant, and if duly qualified, transportation will be furnished, or he can apply personally or by letter at the branch nearest his place of residence.

The requirements are as follows:


1. An honorable discharge from the volunteer service.

2. Disability by wounds received, or sickness contracted in the line of duty.

3. A soldier entitled to or having a pension must forward with his application for admission his discharge papers and pension certificate, or

receipt therefor, or both, as the case may be, be before his application is granted, which papers will be retained at the branch to which the applicant is admitted, to be kept there on file and returned to him when he is discharged. This rule is adopted to prevent the loss of papers and certificates, and to prevent fraudulent practices. He must also assign his pension to the Home. But the Home does not take nor use the pension-money of its inmates; it simply collects and holds them in trust for the soldier, giving him from time to time such amounts as his needs or those of his family require, and depositing the remainder in a savings-bank for the benefit of the pensioner, and on his honorable discharge pay him back both principal and the accumulated interest.




               One of the early incidents of the Central Home was the transfer of the Ohio Soldiers' Home to the Board of Trustees of national homes. This took place with appropriate ceremonies on the 26th day of March, 1867.

               All the officers, employes, and inmates that were able to be present, numbering about one hundred and eighty-five, assembled in the chapel at the ringing of the bell. General George B. Wright, one of the trustees of the Home, called the assembly to order, and announced the object of the meeting to be a formal transfer of the institution to the Board of Directors of national asylums.

               Generals Wright and Mitchell were present as representatives of the Home; Lieutenant-governor McBurney and General Willard Warner of the Senate; Governor Cox in behalf of the state; and Hon. L. B. Gunckel as representative of the National Board.

               General Wright first addressed the soldiers. He commended them for their good behavior, thanked the officers for the faithful discharge of their duties, and expressed a deep interest in the future welfare of all who had enjoyed the benefits of the Home, or who had aided in making it worthy the good name it had borne.

               Lieutenant-governor McBurney followed with a few remarks, expressing the deep interest the people of the state felt in the institution, and the hope that under the care of the national Board the soldiers might enjoy even greater privileges than the state had been able to afford.

               General Willard Warner was then introduced as the chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate, who drafted and introduced the bill which became a law, establishing the Ohio State Soldiers' Home, and as a soldier and citizen had exhibited a most earnest interest in the welfare of the institution. The general spoke with deep feeling and earnestness of the trials and hardships through which the inmates of the institution had passed in the great struggle for the maintenance of the Government, but assured them that their services were appreciated, and that the time would come when they will be held in reverence, as were the patriots and heroes of the Revolution.

Governor Cox followed General Warner in an able and patriotic address, full of good counsel and advice to the soldiers, closing with a formal transfer of the institution from the state to national authority.


Hon. L. B. Gunckel, in reply to Governor Cox, said:


               "It is with mingled feelings of pleasure and fear that I accept in behalf of the Board of Managers the transfer of the Ohio Soldiers' Home to the National Asylum. It is with feelings of pleasure because of my personal connection with the institution from the very beginning. In 1864 I introduced a bill into the Senate of Ohio 'to establish a soldiers' home,' and tried for two sessions to do what my friend General Warner succeeded in doing in 1866. But although my bill failed, it had gained two powerful friends, Governors Brough and Anderson, who, by the aid of Secretary Stanton and the western branch of the United States Sanitary Commission, were enabled to convert 'Tripler Hospital' into the 'Ohio Soldiers' Home.' By appointment of Governor Anderson I was made one of its first trustees, and, as such, helped organize and begin what has been so successfully carried out by my successors. To reunite myself with this institution is, therefore, like coming back to one's first love. To see it made permanent by its adoption as the central branch of the National Asylum is to me a matter of sincere pleasure. But when I consider how admirably the institution has been managed during the past year I accept the transfer of the responsible trust with fear and trembling; for it is due to truth to say that this Home has grown to be not only the largest, but to be recognized as the best conducted and most successful institution of the kind in the United States. For this just matter of state pride we are indebted, first, to our excellent governor, who has always given it his encouragement and aid; second, to the distinguished chairman of the Senate Military Committee, General Warner, here present, the author of the law creating the Home, and its able advocate and zealous defender in the general assembly; thirdly, to the worthy trustees of the Home, Generals Wright and Mitchell, upon whom, and especially the two resident trustees, has rested the burden of the care, responsibility, and labor required in the management of such an institution. I much fear that neither the inmates of the Home nor the people of the state appreciate how great have been the labors and the sacrifices made by these gentlemen. But if they do not get popular applause they have what is after all much better the proud consciousness of having done a great public good. Well may we fear to assume a trust taken from such hands!

               But we take courage in the fact that we are able to retain, temporarily at least, all the present officers of the Home. They have all superintendent, surgeon, chaplain, steward, and matron, done their duty; done it nobly and well. We should gladly retain all permanently, but the law under which we act requires all officers to be selected from disabled soldiers. Not only because, other things being equal, such should always be selected, but because men who have themselves suffered can better appreciate your condition and sympathize with you in your sufferings. This may, after awhile, necessitate a few changes.

               "And now, gentlemen, for if no longer soldiers you are, I hope, all still gentlemen (a good soldier ought always to be a true gentleman), we assume the responsible trust of hereafter managing this institution. A few changes will become necessary. The government will hereafter be military, not only because it is better than the civil for such an institution, but because we are well assured it will be more agreeable to you as soldiers. Again; we shall ask those who receive pensions, and have no dependent wife, child, mother, or sister to whom it should be given, to pay for their clothing while they remain here, out of their pensions. Clothing will be furnished you at Government prices, and how much you shall save out of your pensions will depend upon the care and economy you are pleased to exercise. Although technically the National Asylum, we wish you still to look upon it as the 'Soldiers' Home.' We hope soon to furnish you one better deserving the name. Like the pioneer who first builds a log-cabin, soon to be replaced by a larger and more comfortable mansion, so this, your first home, will soon give

way to one much larger and better. We hope, before long, to give you one which in beauty and healthfulness of situation, extent of grounds, and size and character of buildings, shall equal that of the richest and best of the land. In addition to chapel and school-room there will be workshops, where you may learn new and lighter trades adapted to your several disabilities. We hope by proper surgical care and nursing to send many of you again into the world healthy and able to take care of yourselves, and by suitable education

to prepare many of you for teachers, book-keepers, clerks, mechanics, etc., and so be able to enter the lists with the best. Whenever you think you can get along in the world we prefer that you should try. If you succeed, we bid you God speed. If you fail, we will welcome you back; for here, as long as you live, is your HOME, to which, if you have left with an honorable discharge, you will be ever welcome."

               Mr. Gunckel closed by specially referring to the superintendent, Captain E. E. Tracy, himself a wounded soldier, as one with his heart in the work, and likely to ask nothing from the inmates but what their own real good required, and exhorting the soldiers to make his duties light and pleasant by giving him their "aid and comfort," and co-operating with him in making the institution such a home as every soldier may be proud to claim as his own.

After the exercises in the chapel the audience repaired to the dining-hall, where a plain but substantial dinner was provided, of which all partook

in the best of spirits.

               All pronounced the occasion a pleasant one, not soon to be forgotten by the participants. In addition to the foregoing interesting facts we have a few extracts from the report of the president of the Board of Managers for the year ending December 31, 1867:


               "At the date of the last report the Board had established but one branch or asylum at Augusta, Maine, and were temporarily occupying the state institution at Columbus, Ohio, which, with its property, had been turned over to us by the state, and were aiding the ladies' institution at Milwaukee,





               Because of the unhealthiness of the Ohio Soldiers' Home, after a careful examination, by committees, of other sites, and full hearing of all parties claiming interests at other points, the Board determined upon a location of the central asylum at Dayton, Ohio, about three miles from the city, for which they purchased, at a cost of ($46,800) forty-six thousand eight hundred dollars, about four hundred acres of land in a body, most eligibly situated on the heights commanding the city. The Board was aided in the selection, as between other nearly equally eligible sites, by the munificent donation of ($20,000) twenty thousand dollars from the citizens of Dayton, who, under the lead of Hon. Lewis B. Gunckel, secretary of the Board, evinced the liveliest interest in the success of the institution. Most vigorous measures were taken to get the necessary buildings ready for the accommodation of the disabled soldiers, who came forward for succor faster, almost, than accommodation could be got ready for them. Congress, with that untiring beneficence which has always distinguished its action toward the brave defenders of the Union, had given to the asylum the lumber composing the temporary buildings at Camp Chase. With the aid of this material, under the direction of the local manager, Mr. Gunckel, buildings were most rapidly and economically constructed, to meet the call on the asylura in that locality, so that there are now comfortable accommodations for (600) six hundred soldiers, which were filled up quite as fast as they could be got ready. There are now at that asylum (579) five hundred and seventy-nine disabled soldiers, and as soon as the necessary buildings can be made ready it is not doubted the number will exceed a thousand. A large portion of the work has been done on the ground by the inmates, some of whom have received a small remuneration for their labors, an expenditure that has been found at once economical and beneficial. The whole number of beneficiaries of this branch during the year has been seven hundred and twenty. The average daily cost of the ration to each soldier for the last three months has been, at this branch, thirty and five eighth cents. Workshops are being established at this branch, and a school under the superintendence of William Earnshaw, the efficient chaplain, has been carried on with much success. Its pupils have been so instructed as to be fitted to earn support for themselves, and some found situations in business a result which demonstrates the practical benefit of the institution to the soldier, and relieves its revenues for still further usefulness. The Central Branch is under the direction of General Timothy Ingraham, acting governor, who lately relieved Major E. E. Tracy, a faithful and efficient officer, who had leave of absence because he had entirely broken down his health in the service. By the terms of the act of congress establishing the asylum there is appropriated for its support 'all stoppages or fines adjudged against such officers and soldiers, by sentence of court-martial or military commission, over and above the amounts necessary for the reimbursement of the government or of individuals; all forfeitures on account of desertion from such service; and all moneys due such deceased officers and soldiers which now are or may be unclaimed for three years after the death of such officers or soldiers, to be repaid upon the demand of the heirs or legal representatives of such deceased officers or soldiers.' These amounts can only be determined by the examination of the accounts of each officer and soldier, and the balance ascertained, which may come to the asylum on the settlement thereof. This, of course, is a work of long time, the accounting office having not yet got through the year 1862, so that not even an approximate estimate can be made as to the amount appropriated by the munificence of congress for the support of the asylum.

               "The Board of Managers have received, by donations of land and money, of several associations and individuals, a sum amounting to $126,832.71. They have invested for the use of the asylum all surplus beyond the amount necessary for the outlay and expenditures, in the bonds of the United States, to the amount of $515,100.

               "In commencing the organization of the establishment, and in providing for the necessary accommodation of so many men, large expenditures have been necessary, which are charged in the treasurer's account to real estate, construction, and repairs. It is believed, however, that no more economical expenditure has ever been made of public moneys than in the purchase of lands and construction of buildings for this object.

               "The institution has, during the past year, supported or aided one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven men and totally disabled volunteer soldiers, and the average expense of subsistence of those in the asylum does not exceed the sum of thirty-three cents per day.

               "By the purchase of a large amount of clothing of the quartermaster general, at the prices which it and like stores had been sold at auction, the institution has been able to provide very cheaply for the wants of its beneficiaries in that regard. To no disabled soldier, either of the regular army, of the marines, or the volunteer force, whose case has been brought to the attention of the Board of Managers, has relief been refused or aid denied. Every pains has been taken to find and relieve every soldier who has been sustained in alms-houses or like establishments in the country, and to take care of all disabled soldiers who are found soliciting the benevolence of the charitable. True it is that many cases will be found of apparently disabled men, who claim to be soldiers, in large cities or on railway trains, asking relief of the charitable, or attempting to earn a subsistence by grinding a hand-organ, or other like means of appealing to the generous sympathies of the community. This prostitution of the honorable wounds and the uniform of the soldier can only be saved by the determination of every man, and especially of every woman, whose kind and patriotic hearts are touched by such exhibitions of apparent want, to refrain from giving. In many cases those so appealing for relief are impostors, and were never soldiers at all, or deserters, or were dismissed for crimes. In others they are the employes of designing men and associations, who speculate out of the apparent miseries and services of disabled soldiers. There have been cases where the beneficiaries of our asylum have been hired to leave our homes, where they were amply provided for, by associations owning hand-organs, to grind them through the streets, because a soldier apparently so reduced would attract the sympathy and contributions of loyal and patriotic people. Cases have been brought to the knowledge of the officers of the institution where these organ-grinders have obtained from the public by such means as high as fifteen dollars per day, which does not go to their relief, but to swell the emoluments of their swindling employers. The Board of Managers would respectfully ask all citizens to discountenance these practices, by which the generous benevolence of the community is imposed upon, and before giving to any one claiming to be a soldier under such circumstances, to inquire if he has applied to the managers for relief, and if he replies that he has done so and has been refused, to communicate the fact to the president or either member of the Board of Managers. The munificent liberality of the nation through its congress has done full justice to the claims of all disabled soldiers in the prevision made in this establishment, and no deserving man has failed or can fail to reap the benefit of it if he chooses.

               "The Board make this report of their proceedings with the confident hope that their action will meet the approbation of congress and the country.

               "All of which is respectfully submitted."


For the Board of Managers:

BENJ. F. BUTLER, President.

January I, 1868.





               "By the tenth section of the act of establishment the Board are empowered to administer out-door relief to the soldiers entitled thereto, at an expense not exceeding the average cost of maintaining an inmate in the asylum. Owing to the calls on the establishment for relief, because the Board has not sufficient accommodations, it has been found necessary to support some of those who had claims therefore at charitable and state institutions. Great care has been taken that nobody should be aided who was not precisely within the purview of the act of congress. After mature deliberation it was determined by the Board that the rate of support in any institution should not exceed forty cents per day where the beneficiary did not require to be hospitally treated with medicine or surgically as a sick man, and seventy-five cents a day where he did so require treatment. Accordingly (158) one hundred and fifty-eight totally disabled soldiers have been helped in the New Jersey Home at an average of (10) ten dollars per month each for both sick and well, or thirty- three and one third cents per day for all care and support. Twenty-four (24) soldiers have been supported at the Maryland Soldiers' Home in Baltimore, and (8) eight under the charge of the Ladies' Union Relief Association of New York City from time to time during the year, and (120) one hundred and twenty at the Indiana Soldiers' Home, and (71) seventy-one at the Soldiers' home, Rochester, New York. Out-door relief has also been administered by several members of the Board in cases where such relief was but a temporary necessity or would enable the soldier to become self-supporting by a slight advance to him for a short time. The Board can not better illustrate the working of this mode of relief than by incorporating the report of the efficient secretary of the Board, Mr. Gunckel, as to the manner in which he has given aid and relief to those who needed it, evincing at once practical assistance and economical relief.'




               "I have the honor to report that I have administered 'out-door relief during the past year to eighty-five disabled soldiers, and assisted through state and local institutions one hundred and twenty more, making two hundred and five in all, and expended therefor $5,001.47, being an average only of $24.39 to each man. I append hereto an exhibit showing to whom the money was paid, and giving name, residence, disability, family, &c., of each beneficiary. It will be seen that of the eighty-five to whom I gave relief myself fifty-two reside in Ohio, five in Pennsylvania, seven in Indiana, eight in New York, five in Michigan, three in Illinois, three in Iowa, two in New Jersey, and one in Wisconsin.

               "Their Disability. Loss of both hands, two; loss of arm, twelve; loss of leg, eleven; consumption, nine; paralysis, four; ophthalmia, eight; chronic rheumatism, two; spinal disease, three; chronic diarrhea, four; injury from wounds received, fifteen; other diseases, thirteen. Of these, seventeen have each a wife, but no children; one has a wife and six children; four have each a wife and five children; nine have each a wife and four children; eleven have each a wife and three children; thirteen have each a wife and two children; ten have each a wife and one child; three have aged mothers dependent on them; and eighteen are unmarried. I have, as a rule, confined this relief to married men who did not wish (and ought not to be asked) to leave their families and go into one of our asylums. But I felt compelled to make an exception in a few cases where a small sum of money would help a poor cripple to new crutches, a broken-down mechanic to buy tools and go to work, an anxious student to finish a course in book-keeping, or an invalid stranger to buy medicine or get home to relations and friends. While more than ever convinced of the propriety of this feature in our work, and of the great good which can be done by 'out-door relief,' I am fearful that the demand made upon us in this way will soon tax our utmost capacity. We can not aid all disabled soldiers. An attempt to duplicate the pension list would soon bankrupt our treasury. I have therefore been careful to confine any relief to cases clearly within the law and to continue it no longer than was absolutely necessary. In many cases I gave relief in winter and withheld it in summer. In some I gave it while an application for bounty and pension was pending, but withheld it after they were granted and received. I have in no case given more than $10 per month in many cases less. I have endeavored to impress upon them all that they must not expect this as regular, permanent relief, but only as an occasional help when all other resources failed."

Very respectfully.



One of the Managers.

Major-general BENJ. F. BUTLER,

President Board of Managers National Asylum.


               "The organization of this, the Central Asylum, as an institution dates from March 26, 1867, at which time Hon. L. B. Gunckel, resident manager, took formal charge of the disabled soldiers then at the Ohio State Home, and transferred them to the care of the National Asylum.

               "The grounds where this institution now stands were taken possession of early in August, 1867, and the first men were sheltered here September 2, 1867. But the final transfer of all the disabled soldiers from the Ohio State Home did not take place until the very last days of 1867 ; so that it is not quite three years since this branch was fully established. It has always been the warm desire of the resident manager and this desire permeates all his actions to make this a "home," a real "home," for the brave men disabled in the nation's service, but it was his first care to provide a shelter as speedily as possible for these disabled men, and temporary buildings then standing at Camp Chase, Ohio, and donated to us by the Government, were transferred to this place and re-erected here ; and such was the demand for shelter that each building was crowded before its completion. This state of affairs existed through the winter and spring of 1868. Even temporary shelter could not be provided as fast as it was demanded, and the Board of Managers contracted for the maintenance of many disabled soldiers at some of the old state homes until buildings sufficient for their accommodation could be erected here and at the other barracks.

               Day by day this institution grew larger until it has assumed immense proportions; and large as it even now is, it is scarcely able to accommodate the number of men who rejoice in and are blessed by its benefits. This day it furnishes a comfortable, and in some respects, luxurious home to one thousand one hundred and thirty disabled soldiers, furnishing them with amusements, entertainments, literature, education, moral and religious instruction, light and suitable employment, good quarters, clean clothing and linen, and excellent food, In addition to these we have three hundred and fifty men on furlough, making our total number one thousand four hundred and eighty. To the casual observer, the person who saw this place in 1868, and did not again behold it until 1870, the rapid growth of the buildings, and the vast improvement and ornamentation of the grounds, seems a grandeur of design and a miracle of execution; indeed, to the constant observer of this work it seemed to progress with unexampled rapidity. To the efficient local manager, Hon. L. B. Gunckel, and to his zeal and energy in the cause, is attributable this wonderful advancement.

               We conclude this article with the following brief but pertinent address, delivered by Hon. L. B. Gunckel at the dedication of the new hospital building, in May, 1870.


               A little over two years ago the managers of the National Asylum purchased these grounds and authorized me to commence work. Winter was approaching, and hundreds of sick and disabled soldiers homeless, penniless, and almost friendless, were applying for admission. We could not wait for plans or for an architect. In one week we put up out of Camp Chase lumber, donated by congress, the first of the one-story barracks, and it was filled on the very day it was completed. The next week we put up another, and it was immediately filled. So we went on, summer and winter, adding building to building, and filling each as soon as it was completed. First, we used an old barn for a dining-room; becoming too small we added a wing; then another, and then still another; finally took up and threw out the old barn, raised the whole a story and a half, and so made the dining-hall as it now stands. The first winter we cared for some seven hundred and fifty disabled soldiers; the second winter one thousand; the last winter our rolls showed thirteen hundred, and to-day we celebrate the completion of another building, adding to our capacity three hundred more beds, every one of which will be filled during the coming winter. Looking at these buildings and grounds to-day we are painfully sensible of the fact that the work could have been better done. We can only plead that under many embarassments and difficulties we did the best we could. Had we thought only of architectural and landscape effect, we could perhaps have done better ourselves. But our constant aim has been to care for the disabled soldiers, and provide for them a home a pleasant, comfortable, and happy HOME; and if we have succeeded in that, our dearest wishes have been realized and our highest ambition has been gratified.


               As an item of history we append the following official statements relating to the appointment of the Board of Managers:




JOINT RESOLUTION appointing managers for the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.


               Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following persons be, and they are hereby, appointed managers of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, under the provisions and conditions of the third section of the act approved March twenty-three, eighteen hundred and sixty-six: Richard J. Oglesby, of Illinois, Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, and Frederick Smythe, of New Hampshire, of the first class, to serve six years; Lewis B. Gunckel, of Ohio, Jay Cooke, of Pennsylvania, and P. Joseph Osterhaus, of Missouri, of the second class, to serve four years; John H. Martindale, of New York, Horatio G. Stebbins, of California, and George H. Walker, of Wisconsin, of the third class, to serve two years.


Approved April 21, 1866.


[No. 1.]


JOINT RESOLUTION to appoint two managers for the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, to fill certain vacancies.


aBe it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Erastus B. Wolcott, of the State of Wisconsin, be, and he hereby is, appointed a manager of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of George H. Walker, of the third class of said managers, for the term which expires on the twenty-first day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-eight; and that John S. Cavender, of the State of Missouri, be, and he is hereby, appointed a manager of said corporation, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of P. Joseph Osterhaus, of the second class of said managers, for the term which expires on the twenty-first day of April, eighteen hundred and seventy.

Approved December 7, 1866.




A RESOLUTION appointing managers of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.


               Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following persons be, and they are hereby, appointed managers of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, under the provisions of the second section of the act approved March twenty-third, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six: Lewis B. Gunckel, of Ohio; Jay Cooke, of Pennsylvania; and John S. Cavender, of Missouri; whose terms expire on the twenty-first day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy.


Approved June 9, 1870.




JOINT RESOLUTION appointing managers of the National Asylum for Disabled Soldiers, and for other purposes.


               Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Erastus B. Wolcott, of Wisconsin, John H. Martindale, of New York, and Hugh L. Bond, of Maryland, be, and hereby are, appointed managers of the National Asylum for Disabled Soldiers, under the provisions and conditions of the third section of an act approved March twenty-third, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, from the twenty-first of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-eight; and that Hugh L. Bond,

of Maryland, be, and is hereby, appointed manager to serve out the unexpired term of Horatio G. Stebbins, of California, resigned.


               SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of War be authorized to furnish, from the captured ordnance, such ordnance with their implements as he may deem proper, to the several national asylums for the purpose of firing salutes; and also such small arms and equipments as may be necessary for the purpose of guard duty at the asylums.



Speaker of the House of Representatives.



President of the Senate, pro tempore.

Indorsed by the President: " Received I2th March, 1868."


The following now constitute the regular Board

of Managers :





Maj-Gen. B. F. BUTLER, President, Lowell, Mass.

Maj.-Gen. J. H. MARTINDALE, 1st V. P., Rochester, N. Y.

Gov. FREDERICK SMYTHE, 2d V. P., Manchester, N. H.

Hon. LEWIS B. GUNCKEL, Secretary, Dayton, Ohio.

Brig.-Gen. JOHN S. CAVENDER, St. Louis, Missouri.

Hon. HUGH L. BOND, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. ERASTUS B. WOLCOTT, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Maj.Gen. THOMAS O. OSBORN, Chicago, Illinois.

Maj.-Gen. JAMES S. NEGLEY, Pittsburgh, Penn.


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