War Correspondence- page 120- 123
Cooper Shop Vol. Refreshment Saloon,
Philadelphia, Dec. 29th, 1861
Mr. Editor: - “I am much pleased with the journey thus far to the seat of war. No accident has occurred. The boys are all in the best spirits; in fact, their spirits seem to rise rapidly as they near the land of Dixie. We are stopping over Sabbath in Philadelphia, at the above named saloon, where we have been treated with the kindest hospitality. We were met at the ferry by one of the committee, who conducted us to the saloon, where we found tables groaning beneath the real substantial of life. The hall is 150 feet long, by 30 wide, and will accommodate about 350 persons at a time. It is splendidly decorated with wreaths of evergreens, and a great variety of paintings and flags, and is well lighted with gas. At the further end of the hall is a large eagle, stuffed and perched upon a frame enclosing the Declaration of Independence. We were supplied with every thing we could possibly wish. Since this hall was established, one of the committee informs me that they fed over 225,000 soldiers.
Connected with this hall is a hospital, large enough to accommodate thirty patients with all the conveniences the sick can possibly need. Andrew Nebinger, M.D., is the surgeon in charge, and a finer specimen of a gentlemen I never met. His kindness to the sick, and his untiring zeal for their comfort, proves him to be a philanthropist of the first order; and, in fact, the committee vie with each other in their attention to the soldiers. One cannot but feel at home among them. This Society is but the beginning of one of the most noble institutions ever formed, and committee appointed, for an institution called the Cooper Shop Soldiers’ Home. It is to be a home for disabled soldiers- made so by the present war- throughout the State. It is to be arranged that the man drawing a pension, can pay a small sum, that he may not feel his dependence, but that he has a right to all the benefits arising from the Society. I would cheerfully notice the indefatigable efforts of the matron, Mrs. Elizabenth Vansdale, and the principal directress, Anna M. Ross, whose constant care is spoken of with kindest feelings, by the suffering inmates of this home of the soldiers. They are nobly acting the part of tenderer ones at home, whose hearts ache at the sad tidings of suffering heroes away in a strange land. If you were only here now as the shades of night are gathering around us, and could see how comfortable everything is, you would join with me in saying, ‘soldiers were never better cared for than in this hall.’ This building is owned by William M. Cooper, and was used for a cooper shop until the breaking out of the war. The ladies being in the habit of feeding the soldiers in the street as they were passing through the city, Mr. Cooper offered this building that they might be better accommodated. It is, and has been, kept up by free contributions from the citizens of Philadelphia, through all of its departments. We arrived here about 3 o’clock this morning, and leave to-night at 11 o’clock. Our boys have written some fifteen letters to-day, and all of the material have been furnished, and the postage free. The men are now at tea, and it would do your heart good to see the plentiful supply, and of so great a variety and excellent quality. Major Pixley, our fife-major, has been sick for two days, but falling into so good a place of refuge, together with the kind attentions of these people, he is much improved, and will accompany us on our way.”
Yours in haste,
C.E. Hill, M.D.