Cooper Shop Volunteer Hospital- Philadelphia, March 1st, 1862
Dear Sir: Early after the calling out of troops by the United States Government, for the purpose of suppressing the rebellion, regiment after regiment- frequently as many as three in twenty-four hours- were landed at the foot of Washington Avenue. The soldiers, upon their arrival, were found exhausted, from the heat of the weather, the absence of food, and long travel. The great necessity which presented, and which most earnestly appealed to the sympathies of those of the neighborhood of the landing, was for food. This was presented to the soldiers as best it could be by the good and kind-hearted women of the locality, extemporizing, as it were, a breakfast, a dinner, or a supper, as the case might be. Thus was commenced the good work of refreshing the soldiers of the Union, and from such a beginning grew day by day the Refreshment institutions which have proved of such immeasurable benefit and comfort to our soldiers, and which have given to Philadelphia a name for hospitality of which every Philadelphian may be proud. With regiments there were always some sick, who required medicine and rest. Medicines were by the same good people provided for them, and they were taken into their homes, and there nursed and cared for until their regiments were ready to move on, when, in their suffering and often very exhausted condition, they were forced to travel, with the certainty of their maladies being aggravated, and their lives being jeopardized. The Government had no means at hand for their relief- no hospital organized, and when one was opened, there were no Government officers- no ambulance there, nor any means at hand for the comfort and relief by the Government of the poor sick soldier. There than was another necessity presenting itself, and demanding attention of those patriotic and humane citizens, who were sustaining with their pecuniary resources and their labor, those Refreshment institutions now in such successful operation. As they did not shrink from the performance of their whole duty in regard to meeting the first necessity which presented itself, but refreshed most bounteously the tired and hungry soldier, who was journeying to the defence of the Federal Capital, so they did not shrink from meeting the necessity which existed for more than mere temporary relief of the sick soldier. Out of this necessity grew “The Cooper Shop Hospital.” A hospital was fitted up capable of accommodating eleven patients. In a little time, all the beds were filled, and the little hospital was taxed to its utmost capacity.
Finding that the necessity of the sick, who were arriving with each succeeding regiment, far exceeding the capacity of the little hospital, the Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon Committee determined to extend the field of their operations, and, accordingly, fitted up another room, in which there were placed sixteen beds, making the hospitals present accommodations for twenty-seven patients. These rooms, with a small apothecary shop attached, present all the facility and appurtenance for the good care and comfort of patients, that exist in the best organized hospitals. The rooms are well lighted, and perfectly ventilated, and present, their entire arrangement, cleanliness and good atmosphere- conditions which challenge admiration. The hospital organization does not merely look after the sick, as far as their cure or relief from suffering is concerned, but clothing is also provided, and no soldier is permitted to quit the hospital to join his regiment or company, without his wardrobe being examined and made, at least, as complete as the Government intends it shall be, and often much more so. Under-clothing, hosiery, mitts, handkerchiefs, towels, and blankets are supplied him. And I must not neglect to say, that while his physical wanted are duly attended to, his religious wants are not unheeded, as he is supplied with a Testament and other religious books.
Since the opening of the hospital on the 29th of October last, there has been received in it one hundred and thirty patients; of these one hundred and thirteen have left the hospital either cured or relieved; three have died, and fourteen are now in the ward. A large number of patients, certainly, to be treated in so small a hospital, in a space of time covering only five months.
This little institution now presents itself to you and your congregation, and solicits you and their aid. The defenders of our bleeding, yet glorious Union, implore your help. The cause of humanity begs you for assistance, and the soldier- sick and a stranger among us- asks you to give, and he knows that to ask you will be asked to receive.
Yours respectfully, &c.,
Anna M. Ross,
Lady Principal of the “Cooper Shop Volunteer Hospital.”