Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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April 10, 1862

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The United States Sanitary Commission was established in June of 1861, to supplement the federal government's services to Union soldiers in the field and their families at home. It also served to pressure the government to correct shortcomings. It mainly was composed of female volunteers who collected needed supplies and distributed them to the men and their families. The Chicago Branch was later named the Northwest District. At its supply depot on Wabash Avenue it received donations of such articles as bed sacking, sheets, quilts, bandages, and soap, from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. After the war the commission evolved into the American Red Cross.

On April 6 and 7, 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh, near Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River in southwest Tennessee, Union forces suffered 13,000 casualties of a total strength of 60,000. The Confederates lost 11,000 of 40,000 and were driven back to Corinth, Mississippi.

Points to Consider

What was the United States Sanitary Commission and why was the city making an appropriation to it?

Why did Chicago find it necessary to maintain a war fund?

How much was being appropriated?

Why were funds being allocated on this particular date?

SSee Related Document:

43 and 46
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