From The National Freedman, Vol. 2, No. 1 (January 1866), pp. 15-16


The Chimborazo School.

RICHMOND, VA., December 30, 1865.


Dear Sir: - In behalf of the suffering poor on Chimborazo, I wish to acknowledge the noble response the people of Hopkinton, Mass., have made to our call for aid, and thank them for the generous donation of a barrel of clothing [illegible]

The Chimborazo Hospitals are located in a high bluff of the James River in the southern part of the city. During the war, these wards were ample for the accommodation of 20,000 sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. The United States Government have assigned these wards as quarters for the refugees, who have come into the city from all parts of the South.

Many were sent here during the march of Sherman’s Army through the Southern States to prevent their capture, others, who have long been crushed beneath the oppressors’ feet, fled from their cruel masters; and now, in threadbare garments, are thrown upon the world with not a blanket to shield them from the winter’s cold.

These destitutes, ragged men, women, and children, the “Nation’s poorest poor,” appeal to the earnest sympathies and active efforts of all who are interested in the elevation and future progress of this long-crushed but now emancipated race.

Early in October, six teachers from New England were commissioned to labor among this people. Schools were at once opened, and from the highways and byways over 300 children were gathered in. Rev. R. M. Manly, an efficient officer of the Freedmen’s Bureau, organized a night school of about 200 adults. Mr. J. Walker, a graduate of Amherst College, now conducts the school. The adults manifest the greatest eagerness to learn, and have made commendable progress.

One woman, over forty years of age, who had learned the alphabet when she commenced attending school, can now read the Bible intelligently, and has learned the first chapter of Psalms, and can repeat it verbatim.

A systematic course of visitation was early commenced by the teachers among the people, which has revealed many scenes of utter destitution that are painful to witness.

An aged woman was found in a dark cabin without fire, literally clothed in rags. She had eaten nothing but a few cabbage leaves for two days. While clothing her from our scanty supply of garments, a bag of dry beans were found, and given to her, she clutched them with her long bony fingers, exclaiming: “God bless you, this is the best of all.”

In another, a family of five children were found, the mother was seated upon a low stool, [16] before an expiring fire, a dying child in her arms around her were four hungry, ragged children, a miserable apology of a bedstead, stood in one corner without bed, and only one ragged blanket for a covering for the entire seven.

A little girl of about nine years of age, and her brother, a few years older, came into camp a few days ago, who had been turned out by their master in the country, up the James River, to take care of themselves. A colored sailor on a coal boat, coming down the river, took them aboard and landed them here; a poor woman took them into her cabin, and from her scanty stock of cloth, she made up a blanket of twenty-three pieces to cover the girl, and sent her to school.

Many such scenes of actual real life, daily open in the mission field of Chimborazo, which graphically portray the wants of these destitute refugees and earnestly appeal for aid, for the aged, infirm persons, and homeless orphans, who have no means of obtaining clothing and fuel, and will suffer and die unless our Northern friends send us the means of relieving their sufferings.

Yours, sincerely,

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