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John Hartwell

Major
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Joined
Aug 27, 2011
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8,188
Location
Central Massachusetts
During the course of the war, huge organizations were formed to collect and forward to the armies "parcels from home" containing all manner of necessary and luxury items the men might need or desire. U. S. Sanitary and Christian Commissions, Ladies' Aid Societies and many others did a wonderful job in supplying and comforting Federal soldiers at the front. And the Confederacy saw a similar development. But, it all started in a small way, "at home," as local communities, led usually by the ladies, banded together to see to it that "their boys" were well looked after

At the beginning of the war, the small town of Stockbridge, Mass. provided just 13 men for Company K, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. They were not forgotten:


"June 12, 1861

"Captain Goodwin.

"Sir

"I am informed that the volunteers from Stockbridge, all belong to your company; I have therefore taken the liberty of addressing to you, (Care of Mr Abbott) a box, containing clothing for them, which I beg you to distribute. Each parcel is directed, and upon the top of the box is a towel for each man. The materials for these garments were furnished by our town, and the ladies did the the sewing. Will you be so kind as to inform the men, whence this contribution comes, and say to them; that the ladies of Stockbridge feel an earnest interest in their welfare; and will always gladly do any thing in their power to promote their comfort, and aid them in performing faithfully the duties they have undertaken in their country's service. May God bless you all.

"Yrs Respectfully

"Jeanie Pomeroy"

Actually, such local efforts could create a problem. Some communities, it seems, were much more lavish in their generosity to their own, leading sometimes to hard feelings within a company or regiment. This was one of the great motivators for the establishment of the larger aid organizations. Individual soldiers could still be sent personal packages, but the major donations would be distributed more democratically.

jno
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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18,835
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"I am informed that the volunteers from Stockbridge, all belong to your company; I have therefore taken the liberty of addressing to you, (Care of Mr Abbott) a box, containing clothing for them, which I beg you to distribute. Each parcel is directed, and upon the top of the box is a towel for each man. The materials for these garments were furnished by our town, and the ladies did the the sewing. Will you be so kind as to inform the men, whence this contribution comes, and say to them; that the ladies of Stockbridge feel an earnest interest in their welfare; and will always gladly do any thing in their power to promote their comfort, and aid them in performing faithfully the duties they have undertaken in their country's service. May God bless you all."

That's a little hysterical. I mean, yes, very thoughtful of them, certainly. but towel? One, more thing to carry although if the men had a permanent camp things could maybe be left. Bathing was a tough endeavor, all those men requiring some sort of overhaul on a regular basis? You wonder how frequently that happened.

You could see where jealousy would set in- not really the right word. Poor guys, having to look at cozy, lovingly packed packages from home.


2nd Corp mail wagon, Belle Plain
belle plain 2nd corps2.jpg
 

James B White

Captain
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Messages
6,168
That's a little hysterical. I mean, yes, very thoughtful of them, certainly. but towel?
Towels--which would probably be small huck towels, not terrycloth bath towels of course--are useful for a lot of things besides bathing. When I've reenacted, I've always carried one when I'll be traveling and camping a different place each night during the event, and the extra weight seems well worth it.

--Wrapping around a frying pan handle or using it to pull a boiler off the fire, like an oven mitt.

--Drying hands after ordinary daily washing

--Wiping sweat off one's face so it doesn't run into one's eyes

--Tearing up into cleaning patches

--Tearing off a strip to bandage an injury where we'd use a bandaid

--Wrapping around a frying pan or boiler to keep the soot from getting on everything when you pack it

--Wrapping up food that you get without any container
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,835
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Towels--which would probably be small huck towels, not terrycloth bath towels of course--are useful for a lot of things besides bathing. When I've reenacted, I've always carried one when I'll be traveling and camping a different place each night during the event, and the extra weight seems well worth it.

--Wrapping around a frying pan handle or using it to pull a boiler off the fire, like an oven mitt.

--Drying hands after ordinary daily washing

--Wiping sweat off one's face so it doesn't run into one's eyes

--Tearing up into cleaning patches

--Tearing off a strip to bandage an injury where we'd use a bandaid

--Wrapping around a frying pan or boiler to keep the soot from getting on everything when you pack it

--Wrapping up food that you get without any container

Thank you James! I was of course ( seriously, am not being snitty! ) thinking of a plush, light blue terry cloth bath towel, let's see, monogrammed for each soldier, could easily have gone that far- duh. This description is really helpful. OH my gosh, I'm crying/laughing, what a yutz, right?
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
10,394
James, those are very interesting comments on the small towel and, of course, they do explain its practicality. I probably wouldn't have given a thought to this if you hadn't made your post. Thanks!
 
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