On November 14, 1861, a meeting of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) established the United States Christian Commission (USCC.) They were concerned with soldiers’ and sailors’ spiritual welfare and wanted to bring them to Christ.
Philadelphia merchant George Hay Stuart was the chairman. John A. Cole was general field agent.
Delegates of USCC helped regimental chaplains in caring for the soldiers. They gave religious tracts, hymnals, Bibles, and pocket testaments to soldiers. They held worship services, prayer meetings, and Bible Studies.
According to Chaplain William R. Eastman, 72nd New York, USCC provided a tent canvas for log chapels in the winter of 1863-64 near Brandy Station, each seating over 100 soldiers. Two daily services were held at City Point, Virginia—a 2:00 prayer meeting and 7:00 preaching service.
USCC also provided for physical needs. They carried no weapons yet went to battlefields, army camps, and hospitals. They worked as nurses. From the winter of 1863 on, they had about 100 Diet Kitchens to provide light meals. They gave stamps and stationery to soldiers for writing those important letters to loved ones back home.
They also provided coffee, a beverage dearly loved by soldiers. Their coffee wagons became popular. These wagons, traveling 8 miles per hour down rows of soldiers, supplied coffee for 1,200 men each hour. Hot coffee must have been quite a treat on a cold winter’s day.
Over 5,000 USCC volunteers traveled with the Union army throughout the South. Dwight Lyman Moody served as a volunteer. He held revival meetings at Confederate prisoner-of-war camps in Chicago, handing out pocket-sized Bibles.
-Sandra Merville Hart
Frey, Rebecca J. “U.S. Christian Commission,” Encyclopedia.com, 2018/12/28 https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/us-christian-commission.
“United States Christian Commission,” Ohio History Central, 2018/12/28 http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/United_States_Christian_Commission.
“United States Christian Commission,” Wikipedia, 2018/12/28 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Christian_Commission.
Williams, Rachel. “The United States Sanitary and Christian Commissions and the Union War Effort,” National Museum of Civil War Medicine, 2018/12/27 http://www.civilwarmed.org/commissions/.