Home page Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion

בס"ד

 

Correspondence

[From our Washington Correspondent]

To the Editors of the "Jewish Messenger."

Every Israelite, I am sure, must feel proud at the readiness displayed by our co-religionists in responding to the call of their country, for its protection. Everywhere, in the loyal States, they have come nobly forth among the very first to offer, upon the altar of the sacred UNION, their might, their intellect, their treasure, and, if needs be, their very heart's blood. And, while we glory with pardonable pride, in their patriotism, and bid God speed to the soldier who leaves his luxurious home for the hard work, plain fare, and frequent exposure attending the new duties he is called upon to assume, let us not forget to care for him when his manly form is stricken with disease, or he lay wounded on the battle field.

I am led to these remarks, from having had an excellent opportunity to observe the manner the sick are treated in the Hospitals and Infirmary of this place, all of which fall far short of what they should be, even under the present limited demand upon them. If such is the case now, when the dreadful carnage of war has not begun, nor any epidemic began its ravages,—what will it be when both evils are upon us? I am no alarmist, but I like to look things square in the face, and, if possible, avert or mitigate the threatened danger. I have the best authority for stating that this danger is imminent, more especially that of disease, and it behooves our people to be alive to their duties. I know their hearts too well not to be aware that their impulses only require proper direction to insure the accomplishment of the good it is their delight to do. A HOSPITAL for our people, is what we want here. A sort of miniature Institution of the God-favored one of your city; one, where Jewish nurses can moisten the parched lips, bathe the fevered brow, and smile and breathe words of comfort to the suffering patient; where nutritious food, cooked under the prescribed Laws of our Faith, can be administered; where experienced medical and surgical attendance will do all that science and kind treatment can accomplish, and where the last moments of the dying can be soothed by the "Shema Yisrael" of the attending Hazan. Say not "all this is very desirable, but the cost attending it will be too much." Not at all, as I shall presently show.

I had a long interview, a few days since, with Miss Dix, the great philanthropist, (sister of Gen. Dix): the lady, under whose charge, government has assigned the care of all Hospitals under its jurisdiction, who has devoted the past twenty-five years of her valuable life to the care of the sick. Her opinion and advice, therefore, are most valuable. I asked her views concerning the establishment of a temporary Hospital for our people. Her reply was "undeniably, it is most essential," and she would give the movement her best services, her confidence, and her support.

She suggested that a private house be hired here, and a good commodious one can be had for not more that $25 a month, and that "The Jews' Hospital in New York" supply competent nurses, while she will provide, if necessary, the bed linen, under garments, &c. That a young surgeon be found who has not yet begun, or only just begun, to practice; to such, an unusual opportunity would be presented, not only to do a great good, but to acquire a reputation, and an experience, which a whole life, in ordinary practice, could never give. The cost of beds, bedsteads, tables, chairs, crockery and medicine would be comparatively small, and the War Department have now under advisement, with a prospect of a favorable decision, a proposition to allow private hospitals to draw the same rations as the Army Hospitals, which with careful, economical management, will pay all expenses, save that of rent. With this assistance, no obstacle can stand in the way of its accomplishment, and even should it be withheld, I am confident the purse-strings of the benevolent will be loosed, and that, too, immediately—for there is no time to lose—and in a few weeks the "Jews Hospital for Soldiers" will be one of the proud Institutions of the land.

That our people in New York, as well as those at a distance, may contribute, besides money, to this desirable end, I append a "List of Hospital and Field Supplies":

Bandages—Assortment and proportionate numbers of each variety required:
1 dozen, 1 inch wide, 1 yard long.
2 dozen, 2 inches wide, 3 yards long.
2 dozen, 2 1/2 inches wide, 3 yards long.
1 dozen, 3 inches wide, 4 yards long.
1/2 dozen, 3 1/2 inches wide, 5 yards long.
1/2 dozen, 4 inches wide, 6 yards long.
All without selvages, and shrunk.
  1. Lint—Scraped and raveled in equal proportions, packed in boxes of uniform size.
  2. Old Linen and Cotton Cloth, without selvage or seams, for compresses.
  3. Ring Pads and Cushions.
  4. Cotton Batting and Cotton Wadding; fine Flax and Sponges.
  5. Red Flannel, in the piece.
  6. Bookbinders' Board, for Splints; pieces 18 inches by 4 inches.
  7. Saddlers' Silk, for Ligatures, Skeins waxed and wound on cards.
  8. Sewing Needles, assorted in cases; Linen Thread, Tape and Scissors.
  9. Adhesive Plaster, Camel Hair Pencils, Oiled Silk, Oiled Muslin, India Rubber and Gutta Percha Cloths, in the piece.
  10. Wrapping Paper.
  11. Cotton Bed Shirts, 1 1/2 yards long, 2 breadths of unbleached Muslin 1 yard wide, open one half yard at the bottom, Length of Sleeve three quarters yard, Length of Arm Hole 12 inches, Length of Collar 20 inches, Length of Slit in front 1 yard, fastened with four tapes.
  12.  
    Loose Muslin Drawers— 1 1/2 yards long with a breadth of 4 yard wide muslin in each leg, with a hem and drawing string round the waist and the bottom of each leg; Length from waist to crotch on the back 22 inches, and in the front 18 inches, with three buttons and button holes.
  13. Short Bed Gowns—made like long, only 1 yard long, and open in front.
  14.  
    Dressing Gowns of double calico, of which a paper pattern can be furnished.
  15. Bed Sackings of ticking, 1 yard wide and 2 yards long.
  16.  
    Linen and Muslin Sheets, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long.
  17. Pillow Sacks of ticking, 16 inches wide and 30 inches long, Pillow Cases of Muslin, one half yard wide, 1 yard long.
  18.  
    Towels, Handkerchiefs, Socks, Slippers, etc.
  19. Eye Shades of green silk, with elastics.
  20.  
    Sun Protectors for the head on the field.
Various articles have been named in the newspapers as desirable gifts for the use of the sick and wounded. The following are added as of especial value: Juice of beef, as stock for beef tea, put up in sealed cans; arrowroot, packed in light wooden boxes of one pound each; brandy; white wine, for wine whey, etc.; champagne in small bottles, for cases of sudden sinking; china feeders of different sizes for administering nourishment where the head cannot be moved; bent glass tubes for similar use; castile soap for washing wounds; old table linen to serve as soft towels; distilled vinegar; cans of fruit. Whiskey, tobacco, crackers, condiments, spices, tea, coffee, sugar, oatmeal, pure lemon syrup, dried subacid fruit, and iceable vegetables.

If "The Jews' Hospital in New York," would be willing to take this matter in charge, they could delegate authority to competent persons here, who would be most happy, I am sure, to carry out their instructions, or, in the event of the Directors considering it beyond their line of duty, a committee raised for the purpose would answer quite as well; at all events, let a beginning be made and if only one valuable life be saved, it will amply repay all the trouble and outlay.

In connection with this subject, I have another suggestion to make. It is impossible to know the names of our people who have enlisted in the service of the U.S. and with the view of getting a complete list, it would be well for officers of Congregations to forward to you, Mr. Senior Editor (the vehicle of all good) the names of their townsmen of our Faith, who have enlisted and been accepted in the service of the United States, with the designation of their Regiment, Company and State. This will enable the authorities here to address each one a circular stating the provision made for them, which information could be imparted to their comrades, so that in the event of their requiring assistance, it would be immediately forthcoming.

I throw out the above hasty sketch, conscious of its many defects, my only object being to awaken the community to a sense of duty they owe themselves, and their co-religionists, and leaving to their experience and judgment the elaboration of the plan to be adopted.

SEMI-OCCASIONAL

Washington, D.C., May 26th, 1861.

Letters of "Semi Occasional"