Skip Content
U.S. Flag

Transcript: Clara Barton's Letter to Henry Wilson, Jan 18, 1863

Page one of Clara Barton's Letter to Senator Henry Wilson, Jan 18, 1863

Washington, D.C., Jany 18, 1863

Hon. H. Wilson
U.S. Senator


I take the liberty to request that you would assist me to procure through the Surgeon General such a supply of medical stores as I can use successfully on the battle field or in the hospital. Any transportation or commissary stores are kindly and readily supplied me by Col. Rucker. Dr. Hammond also furnished me some months ago a fine lot of liquors which were used mainly at Fredericksburg. The last cup I remember to have distributed among the poor sufferers who were shot in Saturday’s fight and left dying upon the field, until brought across the river under flag of truce on Tuesday night. (the little clothing left on them saturated in blood and frozen firmly to them) most of them in chills and cramps, to be lain upon the ground (in tents) with light covering and no fires. I shall never forget my own gratitude to say nothing of theirs for the possession of the little comforts I held in store for them.

The articles I most need at present are whiskey, brandy, wine, condensed milk, prepared meats, cups, plates, a few dishes and kettles necessary for the preparation of suitable food for sick men, some flannel underclothing and a few blankets.

Feeling assured from the deep and abiding interest I know you to cherish on behalf of our wounded and suffering heroes I respectfully ask that you would if possible so arrange the matter that I could have permission or an order to draw articles desired from the Medical Purveyor from time to time as I may need them. You have, I hope, a sufficient assurance of their being prudently and properly applied. If I were able to purchase these things at my own cost I would not ask them of the Government. This my circumstances forbid, or if I were able to sit quietly down in the midst of all the suffering and desolation around me without even attempting to relieve any portion of it, then I would not ask. This my nature forbids and hence I must trouble others with my requests.


Document Courtesy of Library of Congress, Clara Barton Papers, Manuscript Division