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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

For the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission


ingenuity to the utmost. In

Chicago, for instance, the Branch has lately held a fair of colossal proportions, to which the whole Northwest was invited to send supplies, and to come in mass! On the 26th of October last, when it opened, a procession of three miles in length, composed of wagon-loads of supplies, and of people in various ways interested, paraded through the streets of Chicago; the stores being closed, and the day given up to patriotic sympathies. For fourteen days the fair lasted, and every day brought reinforcements of supplies, and of people and purchasers. The country people, from hundreds of miles about, sent in upon the railroads all the various products of their farms, mills, and hands. Those who had nothing else sent the poultry from their barnyards; the ox, or bull, or calf, from the stall; the title-deed of a few acres of land; so many bushels of grain, or potatoes, or onions. Loads of hay, even, were sent in from ten or a dozen miles out, and sold at once in the hay-market. On the roads entering the city were seen rickety and lumbering wagons, made of poles, loaded with mixed freight,--a few cabbages, a bundle of socks, a coop of tame ducks, a few barrels of turnips, a pot of butter, and a bag of beans,--with the proud and humane farmer driving the team, his wife behind in charge of the baby, while two or three little children contended with the boxes and barrels and bundles for room to sit or lie. Such were the evidences of devotion and self-sacrificing zeal the Northwestern farmers
gave, as in their long trains of wagons they trundled into Chicago, from twenty and thirty miles' distance, and unloaded their contents at the doors of the Northwestern Fairs, for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission. The mechanics and artisans of the towns and cities were not behind the farmers. Each manufacturer sent his best piano, plough, threshing-machine, or sewing-machine. Every form of agricultural implement, and every product of mechanical skill, was represented. From the watchmaker's jewelry to horseshoes and harness; from lace, cloth, cotton and linen, to iron and steel; from wooden and waxen and earthen ware, to butter and cheese, bacon and beef;--nothing came amiss, and nothing failed to come, and the ordering of all this was in the hands of women. They fed in the restaurant, under 'the Fair,' at fifty cents a meal--fifteen hundred mouths a day, for a fortnight--from food furnished, cooked, and served by the women of Chicago; and so orderly and convenient, so practical and wise were the arrangements, that, day by day, they had just what they had ordered and what they counted on,--always enough, and never too much. They divided the houses of the town, and levied on No. 16 A Street, for five turkeys, on Monday; No. 37 B Street, for twelve apple-pies, on Tuesday; No. 49 C Street, for forty pounds of roast beef, on Wednesday; No. 23 D Street was to furnish so much pepper on Thursday; No. 33 E Street, so much salt on Friday. In short, every preparation was made in advance, at the least inconvenience possible to the people, to distribute in the most equal manner the welcome burden of feeding the visitors, at the fair, at the expense of the good people of Chicago, but for the pecuniary benefit of the Sanitary Commission. Hundreds of lovely young girls, in simple uniforms, took their places as waiters behind the vast array of tables, and everybody was as well served as at a first-class hotel, at a less expense to himself, and with a great profit to the fair. Fifty thousand dollars, it is said, will be the least net return of this gigantic fair to the treasury of the Branch at Chicago. It is universally conceded that to Mrs. Livermore and Mrs. Hoge, old and tried friends of the soldier and of the Sanitary Commission, and its ever active agents, are due the planning, management, and success of this truly American exploit. What is the value of the money thus raised, important as it is, when compared with the worth of the spirit manifested, the loyalty exhibited, the patriotism stimulated, the example set, the prodigious tide of national devotion put in motion! How can rebellion hope to succeed in the face of such demonstrations as the Northwestern Fair? They are bloodless battles, equal in significance and results to Vicksburg and Gettysburg, to New Orleans and Newbern."


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