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בס"ד

332 Pennsylvania Ave. 
Washington, Dec. 20, 1861

My Dear Sir,

My letter, containing a copy of the Prest's letter to me, must have reached you on Monday last, and has, I hope, afforded you the same satisfaction it gave me on receiving the same. In accordance with my views described therein, I had an interview with the members of the Military Committee, to whom the President will submit the new law, and learned from them, that perhaps a fortnight will elapse before the bill will come under consideration, that they will bear in mind my suggestions and will be glad to receive my views in writing. Consequently, I will draw up a memorial next week, but before I transmit it to them, I will send you a copy so that you may suggest any alteration in the document. Petitions in favor of Jewish chaplains have been presented by the Senators from Illinois, Iowa and Massachusetts, all of which were referred to the Military Committee. I cannot understand why the Senator from N. York has not presented yr petition. Mr. Conkling presented yr petition to the House, and, strange enough, had it referred to the judiciary instead of the military committee, I presume with the view of ascertaining the constitutionality of the law, but, I fear that no action will be taken in that quarter, and that it will lie there, together with many other petitions that are not pushed through by powerful political influences. As I have no time to write to Mr. Isaacs, you would oblige me by requesting him to urge, in "The Messenger", upon all petitioners to send in the petitions at once and request their representatives to have them referred to the Military Committee. I expect that within a month the matter will be settled to our satisfaction.

Now that I have visited all the camps and hospitals in Virginia, I have a distinct idea of what has to be done, and what can be done. The number of Jews in the army is very large, I found some even among Berdan's Sharpshooters. As a general rule, they are not known as Jews, but hundreds with whom I have conversed express their anxiety and hope that some provision may be made for them, so that in case of sickness or death, they be not left to the mercy of strangers. This was more forcibly impressed upon my mind by the numerous Jewish patients I visited in the Hospitals, nearly all of whom complained that they had not seen a "Yehudee" since they entered the Hospitals, that they have in addition to the sufferings of disease, to submit to the torture of religious controversy, forced upon them by Christian clergymen, who are anxious "to save their souls" (!), and all expressed the wish to be interred in a Jewish burial-ground. I had to write letters for some of them, who had not been able to communicate with their friends. The arrangements in the Hospitals are excellent. I have not yet been able to visit Genl Banks' division, as it takes from 7 to 8 hours by rail to reach Frederic Jcn where he is now stationed, but I expect to go there on Sunday and pass a few days in that army.

In case permanent provision be made by yr Board for a Jewish chaplain for this army, at least until Govt. provides one, I would suggest the following "modus operandi": 1st that he be required to visit the hospitals daily. 2ly that he visit each division of the army once a week, and 3ly that a card be extensively circulated in the camps to the effect that Jewish soldiers in camps and hospitals who are in need of personal assistance send in a written request to Dr._______...& etc. Every Jewish soldier would then have the opportunity of enjoying the chaplain's services at any time he may wish. The Generals have even promised me every facility for religious services.

This remarkably mild here for this season of the year, so much so that I have not yet had the occasion to wear an overcoat.

Wishing you good Shabbat, I remain,

Respectfully yrs,
A. Fischel

Henry I. Hart, Esq.
N. York

Fischel Letters