Civil War Federal Soldiers’ Homes

The first U.S. home for disabled veterans and orphans of soldiers was founded by Benjamin Fitch of Darien, Connecticut. He paid for almost all the expenses of the home built while the Civil War still raged in 1864. The facility was renamed “Fitch’s Home for Soldiers” when control was handed over the state in 1887.

The U.S. government bought the Togus Springs Hotel in 1866. The Maine hotel became the Eastern Branch of the National Asylum For Disabled Volunteer Veterans. Read more about this home here.

A building was erected in Minneapolis to provide a soldiers’ home in 1888. One cottage for women and five cottages for men were on the Minnesota Soldiers’ Home property near Minnehaha Falls by 1911.

The beautiful Minnesota land was meant to be a peaceful place. Soldiers didn’t receive medical care at the facility. World War I changed that policy, but didn’t make it a priority.

Colonel George Washington Steele introduced legislation in 1888. He hoped to establish a national home in Grant County, Indiana. Despite Steele’s worry that it wouldn’t pass, Congress approved it that year. Indiana citizens in Marion celebrated the passing of the bill on July 30, 1888, the city’s largest crowd ever.

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Marion Branch, opened in 1890. The facility, also known as Marion National Home, enrolled 586 veterans that year. They built a hospital to treat patients there, hiring Cincinnati female nurses as part of the staff.

The facility grew beyond capacity with veterans sleeping on the floor in 1892. New buildings were erected. The need heightened with World War I veterans and about 60 new structures had been added by 1919. Among these were additional living quarters, warehouses, supply buildings, greenhouses, a fire station, and memorials.

White veterans and United States Colored Troops were welcomed into the homes.

Federal soldiers’ homes did not allow Confederate veterans.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

“A Home for Volunteers: Togus and the National Soldiers’ Homes,” The Gettysburg Compiler, 2017/07/04 https://gettysburgcompiler.org/2017/05/29/a-home-for-volunteers-togus-and-the-national-soldiers-homes/.

“History of Darien, Connecticut,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Darien,_Connecticut.

“Minnesota Veterans Home,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Veterans_Home.

“National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Marion Branch,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Home_for_Disabled_Volunteer_Soldiers,_Marion_Branch.

“Togus, Maine,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Togus,_Maine.

 

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