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The Fairfield Ladies' Aid Society


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 5/2/2006 at 16:26:08

"Fairfield Ledger", May 10, 1866, Pg, 3

"... The Ladies' Aid Society of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa, was organized in October, 1861. We represented a population of two thousand in the town, which is the county seat of a county containing fifteen thousand persons. During the year 1861 the Society hardly got into working condition, and consequently accomplished but little, sending only two boxes to the 2d Iowa regiment, then campaigning in Missouri.

In 1862 we were a Society of thirty members. That year was spent mostly in working for the Hospitals in Keokuk, Iowa. A widow lady residing in our town -- Mrs. M. E. WOODS -- offered her services to the hospitals, take our supplies, and assist in nursing the sick and wounded. Being so fortunate in having an Agent who was incorruptible and truly loyal, and in whom our whole county had perfect confidence, we never became auxiliary to the State Society, but remained an independent Society, believing that with Mrs. WOODS as our Agent we accomplish the greatest amount of good by so doing.

In 1863 Mrs. WOODS reported to us that she thought her services were no longer needed at Keokuk, and if we could secure her a pass she would carry our supplies to the field, where they were more needed. We were fortunate in obtaining from the Secretary of War the necessary papers and in January, 1863, Mrs. WOODS left for Springfield, Missouri, with supplies for the 19th Iowa regiment, then at that place. Arriving at St. Louis she found communication with Springfield cut off, and being impossible to proceed, she distributed her stores at the hospitals in St. Louis and returned home.

In March following she again went with supplies for the 3d Iowa Cavalry, at Pilot Knob, Missouri, for the 4th Iowa Cavalry, at Helena, Arkansas, and for the 30th Iowa Infantry, at Milliken's Bend. The 30th had endured sad exposure and were in a very deplorable condtion. Mrs. WOODS returned as soon as possible, and reporting to the Society our hearts were stirred anew in the cause of the soldier. We called upon the loyal people of our county, who were always ready to help us, and from our own and neighboring towns, including Washington, Mt. Pleasant and Brighton, we gathered large supplies; and in June Mrs. W. again reached the 30th, before Vicksburg. Again in October she went to the 4th Iowa Cavalry, at Black River, Miss., and in November to the 10th and 30th Iowa, at Bridgeport, Ala., and to the 2d and 7th, at Pulaski, Tenn., with supplies also for the 4th Iowa Cavalry. All her visits to these regiments were quite opportune, as rations were short both in hospital and field.

In 1864 Mrs. WOODS made three trips to the army -- in March to the 36th and 33d Infantry, at Little Rock, Ark., in May to the Iowa regiments in the 15th Army Corps, at Nashville, and in October to Barancas, Florida. In the early part of October we were advised by letters from the 19th Iowa, then in Florida, that they were suffering from scurvy, and asking us to send them anti-scorbutics. Such an appeal was not long unheeded, and the pen fails in its description of the preparation of pickles and sauces, and the gathering of stores generally for that trip....

Our Society never numbered at any one time over forty members. These few were devoted in their work, and were always well sustained by a loyal and liberal people, and working together in a cause so just, could not fail of being in harmony..... What seemed to be obstacles in our pathway were so entirely set aside by repeated letters from brave soldiers to their friends at home of the visits of Mrs. WOODS, that we found everywhere an open door to the hearts of the people, and we have much assurance that their gifts and our works were blessed.

It is perhaps in place here to mention that previous to the organization of the Aid Society, when the first call for 75,000 troops was made, a little band of loyal men in our village responded to the call and formed Company E of the famous 2d Iowa Infantry. A few of our women feeling that they, too, had something to do in the salvation of the country, and for the comfort of the soldier, proffered their services to make the uniforms of the Company. The art of war was new business then. Through the influence of Gen'l LAUMAN with the State authorities, the material -- a heavy satinet -- was obtained, a hall engaged, and with busy needles they went to work. With the assistance of a tailor, to cut, they made 100 frock or dress coats, 100 pairs pants, and same number of haversacks and havelocks, besides needle books and other trifles that go to make up a soldier's outfit. They also made the silk flag that went most honorably through the war as the Company flag of the gallant Company E, 2d Iowa Infantry.

After this, when it became manifest that the war was to continue indefinitely, and the deeds of noble soldiers had stimulated the hearts of the friends at home, our Aid Society succeeded this first effort in behalf of the soldier; and while we have given you the outline, the whole history of its labors cannot, of course, here be written. We feel that our success, as a Society, was owing in a great measure to the good woman who acted as our agent in field and hospital, distributing our stores with her own hands, and often taking the place of physician, nurse, and friend. She will have her reward.... (List of contributions and disbursements, including $50.00 to Lincoln monument at Springfield, Ill.)... All of which is respectfully submitted.

Mrs. Thomas D. EVANS, Pres't.
Mrs. M. B. CASE, Sec'y.
Mrs. C. W. SLAGLE, Treas.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.


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