.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ladies Union Aid Society of St. Louis (LUAS)

From: civilwartalk.com


We often see photographs of women who were serving with the U. S. Sanitary Commission in the East. Jessie Fremont was the wife of General John C. Fremont and daughter of prominent Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. She urged her husband to set up a separate Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis to serve the Trans-Mississippi region. Gen. Fremont issued an order that established the Western Sanitary Commission in St. Louis, Order No. 159. A primary purpose was to provide doctors and nurses for the hospitals in the fight in the West. It opened or supplied some 15 hospitals in St. Louis as well as hospital ships and trains that brought the wounded from the battles on the Mississippi to St. Louis. Eventually, the WSC also provided assistance for soldiers in St. Louis who had no funds for lodging, refugees from the South, and newly freed people in the city.

Another organization, the Ladies Union Aid Society of St. Louis (LUAS) actually preceded the WSC in its founding. The LUAS was organized on August 2, 1861 and the WSC on September 10, 1861. Many of the women whose names appear in our thread on Women of Missouri like Mrs. Anna Clapp were members of the Ladies Union Aid Society of St. Louis (http://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-women-of-missouri.123548/) with Mrs. Clapp being the president. They met initially in the founders' homes, but the group soon became too large and they were given a room for meetings in the Military Hospital in downtown St. Louis. The LUAS met each week at 3:00 pm on Friday for reports from hospitals and their other activities.

The Union military authorities weren't prepared for the numbers of the wounded that would be transported to St. Louis, where there were hospitals such as New House of Refuge, Jefferson Barracks, City General, Good Samaritan, Marine, Pacific, Hickory Street, Benton Barracks, Lawson, Eliot, Schofield Barracks, City and Sisters, Invalid Corps Hospital, and the Gratiot Prison Hospital to care for them. LUAS members worked in the hospitals, visited the sick now in St. Louis due to the war, and provided for burial expenses. They also raised considerable amounts of money to support these efforts. Some LUAS members like Adaline Couzins would be injured or suffer frostbite as they went into the field to nurse the wounded. Ms. Couzins had been badly frostbitten early in the war and was later hit by a minie ball at Vicksburg. Arethusa Forbes was also frostbitten attending to soldiers in the field. The deaths of Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge and Mary Palmer were attributed to exhaustion from their work for LUAS.

Sometimes the statements about women's efforts during the Civil War seem to be along the lines of "They rolled bandages and visited the soldiers in the hospital, bringing them flowers and reading to them." I don't know whether the actions of women in Missouri were more than elsewhere, or whether they were just better documented. This passage from the recording Secretary of the LUAS describes the kind of baskets which were delivered to those convalescing in the 14 hospitals that LUAS dealt with:

"Within was a bottle of cream, a home-made loaf, fresh eggs, fruit and oysters;, stowed away in a corner was a flannel shirt; a sling, a pair of spectacles, a flask of cologne; a convalescent had asked for a lively book, and the lively book was in the basket; there was a dressing-gown for one, and a white muslin handkerchief for another; and paper, envelopes for all.” Woman's Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience, Linus Pierpont Brockett, Mrs. Mary C. Vaughan, p. 632.

18thVirginia said: ↑
The Union military authorities weren't prepared for the numbers of the wounded that would be transported to St. Louis, where there were hospitals such as New House of Refuge, Jefferson Barracks, City General, Good Samaritan, Marine, Pacific, Hickory Street, Benton Barracks, Lawson, Eliot, Schofield Barracks, City and Sisters, Invalid Corps Hospital, and the Gratiot Prison Hospital to care for them. LUAS members worked in the hospitals, visited the sick now in St. Louis due to the war, and provided for burial expenses. They also raised considerable amounts of money to support these efforts. Some LUAS members like Adaline Couzins would be injured or suffer frostbite as they went into the field to nurse the wounded. Ms. Couzins had been badly frostbitten early in the war and was later hit by a minie ball at Vicksburg. Arethusa Forbes was also frostbitten attending to soldiers in the field. The deaths of Mrs. Margaret Breckinridge and Mary Palmer were attributed to exhaustion from their work for LUAS.

Thanks for the thread, 18th! Yes, they did indeed lay it all out. What's crazy is how many of these women were lost. It's very tough getting ' the word out ' on them, too. You see their photos, care worn, battered, so faded by the time anyone has asked for a photograph and no one imagines this uninteresting looking female has incredible stories attached to her. Many who died I cannot find, when coming across a mention of them in someone's diary or journal. There will be an entry of a death " Mrs. Reed died today of typhoid after being here for only 6 weeks. She was buried with many tears. " That kind of thing. It's so prevalent, makes me wonder if there are statistics, you know?

No, it's not just Missouri- women from all over, North and South had the same kind of stories. It's just always been extremely hard, knowing how to convey who did what, you know? Some organizations were poorly funded but rich in intent- these lost a lot of workers to disease and over work. Some, the bandage rollers, tended to make a lot of noise over volunteering, maybe had an awful lot of resources but stayed little distant from the action. I wonder if there's a list somewhere?

But then, how do you include women like those in towns post battle? Virginia Wade's sister handed her baby, Lewis McClellan to her mother and walked to the hospitals.

The work accomplished by the Ladies Union Aid Society of St. Louis was very impressive. One quote I read from a Union soldier about the Confederate leaning women of Missouri said they were "spunkier" than some other women. I'd say that went for both Union and Confederate women of Missouri--makes me quite proud to count a great-grandmother from Missouri.

The LUAS went far beyond just carrying baskets to the convalescing soldiers and supplying nurses to the many St. Louis hospitals and the hospital ships. Finding a need for hospital clothing, they received $5,500 from the Western Sanitary Commission to sew 75,000 pieces of clothing. Soldiers' wives who needed to earn extra money were hired to provide the sewing. The Medical Purveyor then gave them a contract for $6,000 to produce 128,000 articles of clothing. Sewing machines were available in the LUAS headquarters for the women to use.

LUAS also received a contract for 261,00 yards of bandages.

In 1864, the Western Sanitary Commission and the Ladies Union Aid Society collaborated on the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair of 1864, to raise funds for their hospitals and the many wounded soldiers flowing through St. Louis. Though the men of the Western Sanitary Commission chaired most of the committees, it is generally agreed that the LUAS women did most of the work and personed the booths.

The Fair lasted from May 17 to June 18, 1864 and raised $550,000. Admission to the Fair to view the booth exhibits of sewing machines, hardware, and other knitted, embroidered or quilted crafts by the women of St. Louis started at $2 and went to .50 after the initial days.

The most popular booth at the fair was The Delphic Oracle, a fortune-telling booth.


0 comments:

Post a Comment

Share

Facebook Twitter Delicious Stumbleupon Favorites