AMERICA'S RELIEF EXPEDITION TO ASIA MINOR UNDER THE RED CROSS
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REPORT OF EDWARD M. WISTAR,
OF PHILADELPHIA, SPECIAL FIELD AGENT, IN CHARGE OF SECOND EXPEDITION.
To Miss CLARA BARTON, President:
Upon my return from the field of active work in Asia Minor, you have asked for a summary of my report made to you from time to time. It follows herewith:
Perhaps it was the 9th of December last, that upon looking over my office mail, there met my eye a letter from you and Mr. Pullman. Suffering in Turkey had been much on my mind during the previous few days, and before opening your envelope there seemed to come to me the thought, "What if this prove a call for services in Armenia?" Your kind preliminaries were followed by the query, " If we find it possible to go to Armenia will it be possible for you to go with us?" After full deliberation I wired you that I would be at your service, and immediately made arrangements for leaving home. Subsequent correspondence and an interview with you in Washington placed me in an attitude of readiness. Later (the 22d of January having been fixed for leaving America), I was expecting to accompany you, when for certain good reasons a wire received about noon of the 21st said, "Not to-morrow, wait for further advice." This advice finally came by cable from Constantinople on the 19th of February, "come Saturday (22d), and bring another man." Accordingly Mr. Charles King Wood sailed with me on the following day, the 22d. We were in London within the week and welcomed by you in your own home in Constantinople on the 7th of March.
The important matter of selecting and contracting with a suitable interpreter, and other preliminary arrangements, detained us a few days in Constantinople, but these being made and teskeres (traveling passports) granted by the authorities, we took passage for Alexandretta, in Syria, at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. The passage was circuitous
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and long stops were made for cargo so that eight days were spent on the voyage, but we were cheered upon our arrival to find Dr. Hubbell in Alexandretta, where he had been getting off a large caravan. That afternoon all our teskeres were viséd for Aintab and at [sunrise the next day the journey into the interior was commenced. Passing over the broad plains of Antioch and by Hymmum-Khan we reached Killis in three days, shortly after the massacre there. An irresponsible mob followed and jeered at us as we entered the town, but offered no actual violence. It may be said here that during all our stay in the country the zaptiehs, or guards deputed for our personal escorts, were always respectful, and, so far as appeared, vigilant in their care of us. At one place I recall hearing an officer instruct the guard that if anyone attempted to interfere with the Americans he should be summarily dealt with.
At Killis we called first on the Kaimikam, the head of the local government, who received us cordially, and indeed in all subsequent visits made to the authorities we were always courteously treated. After two days investigation it did not seem best to open a campaign of relief here as your caravan of supplies had already gone to Aintab and to which place we were all viséd.
Reaching this latter place we arranged for the distribution of your goods and also some clothing, etc., contributed by the Friends' Mission of Constantinople. Finding relief work being done here and feeling the greater need of points yet beyond, it was decided to separate, going by different routes so as to touch as many such places as possible, and to meet again at Harpoot if it should prove practicable. Leaving Dr. Hubbell, with Mr. Wood still accompanying me, I set out for Oorfa on the 6th of April, passing through Nisib and many smaller mud hut villages, crossed the swollen Euphrates and reached Beredjik the second day and Oorfa in two more. The world knows of the heroic work of Miss Corinna Shattuck; how she was alone in Oorfa during the dark days of December 28th and 29th; how she saved in her own house scores of terrified refugees; and how she is still laboring or striving in her quiet, unobtrusive way to relieve the needs of those about her. It is not necessary that I say more—her name is one that should be remembered among the heroines of Christian womanhood with a lustre undimmed to the last. It was a great privilege to be able to offer her sympathy and encouragement.
About $900, or in exact figures, 200 Turkish liras ($4.40), were expended in co-operation with Miss Shattuck, and during twelve days spenfat Oorfa arrangements for the making of a considerable supply of household utensils were effected. This operation commended itself as giving employment to a considerable number of. efficient workmen, who were found destitute
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and because the product gave relief to a large number of destitute people which should be permanent in character.
At dawn, the 21st of April, we were again in the saddle following the trail towards the city of Diarbekir ; passing through Severek, two days'1 en route from Oorfa, a town and district badly plundered but which had received some help from Oorfa, and to which more funds were sent later, we reached the ancient walled city on the forenoon of the 24th.
At Diarbekir we were most hospitably entertained by Mr. Hallward, the British Consul, spending Saturday and Sunday there to give our horses a needed rest, to gather information and to report to you, as you may remember, and thence over the Taurus Mountains to Harpoot. Rev. Dr. H. N. Barnum, the veteran missionary, Dr. C. F. Gates, president of the Mission College, other missionaries and a host of the inhabitants greeted our arrival at the entrance of the city, and we were assigned comfortable quarters in one of the Mission houses. To us, strangers and travel-worn as we were, it seemed almost more than an incident, when with no other previous arrangement, except that upon parting at Aintab it was proposed that we meet again at Harpoot, and with no possible communication between us in more than three weeks, we saw Dr. Hubbell with his expedition enter the city from Malatia, later the same day. We felt our way for a day or two and then with fresh advice from you set to work to arrange details for active personal service in different sections of the Harpoot field, gaining as much information as possible relative to requirements and conditions. Incidentally, but with direct purpose, a number of villages were visited and interviews had with recommended men from different localities. Mr. Wood now arranged with Dr. Hubbell for funds and work apart from me. My first call, before commencing the work of the great Harpoot plain, was from Char-Sandjak, with Peri as a center, a district lying northeast from Harpoot, about two days' distant across a rugged mountainous country and two branches of the Euphrates, with a population of about 8,500 persons, inhabiting 74 villages, all but four of which had been wholly or in large part plundered during the disturbances of last autumn. Here as in other places visited, there was an urgent need of clothing, food and bedding; for tools and farming implements and a little capital for starting industries; also for seed. Accompanied by my interpreter I was able to work early and late for three weeks in this district and with gratifying results. Native cloth from hand-looms was bought from anyone who had it to sell at a fixed price. It was immediately cut into garments which were given out to be sewed by the women in their homes and returned the following morning; these suits were often clothing the nakedness of the people on that day. Thus the one outlay was made to serve three different purposes—a market for the weavers' cloth, work for hundreds of women, and clothing for the
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most needy. About 150 artisans in need of tools and small capital were reinstated in business. Two hundred oxen and five hundred implements and tools, including a large proportion of plows were bought and distributed; bread rations were given out daily.
At the end of three weeks a walk through the bazaars of Peri showed a large increase in activity in the shops, particularly of the blacksmiths, coppersmiths and shoemakers, and the general condition of trade was much improved.
The field was left in the hands of a good native committee, with some supplies, afterwards much increased when visited by me. Returning to Harpoot I engaged in further relief work there, looking towards the giving of work-animals and tools, and the re-establishment of industries. Our particular effoTts were to save the great grain crop of the Harpoot plain, which for weeks past had been developing before our eyes and was now beginning to turn from green to gold—the one bar, as appeared, against famine in the future. In the many perplexing issues always at hand there was the greatest need to stand one's ground firmly in this purpose, for if the grain crop could not be properly harvested and secured the number of ragged and starving would be wofully augmented and so lie again for the coming winter on the hearts of the charitable world.
During these months it was necessary that the work be as rapid and continuous as possible. Headquarters were in succession at Harpoot, at Peri, on the road, and again at Harpoot. All one's previous experiences were in requisition. Committees of investigation were sought out and arranged and reports and petitions from towns and villages and from scores of individuals were received daily. Bargains for grain, cattle, cloth, tools and a variety of them, and of other merchandise were negotiated, reports were filed, and wants and agreements noted.
As my own cashier the responsibility thickened, all transactions, the largest as well as the least, having to be met in ready coin carried in belt pockets and saddle bags. President Gates, of Euphrates College at Harpoot, acted as our general banker, and in this as in other ways his good judgment and sagacity were of the greatest assistance. All payments were made personally and a complete cash account, tendered you with this, was kept.
Applicants of course flocked by hundreds and finally by thousands, the great mass of them on foot. Many had to return disappointed as before indicated.
Nearly all the grain was distributed under my personal supervision by a small committee of native men. Where this was not feasible I issued orders to heads of families, having first secured an option on a good supply at a fixed price.
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Tools and implements were contracted for according to sample and at a stated price; or at times I informed the blacksmiths at Harpoot or other towns that cash would be paid for all delivered during certain days at a standard rate, if properly branded. Being firm in this position from the outset, efforts to deceive me and defraud those for whom the work was being done were avoided.
These articles were in large part distributed village by village, and gathering knowledge by experience gained in other fields of relief and acting under your distinct orders and well-tried policy, the people were supplied direct, or through a village committee appointed by themselves, and always vouched for under the systematic investigation your method required. They came from all parts of the section. Your instructions provided for the appointment of a general or district advisory and investigating committee, made up of a small number of leading native merchants pastors, and others as thoroughly conversant with local wants and individual characters. They received or had referred to them all the local applications for relief. This committee required due reports, submitting the results to me, and I took such action as my best judgment and knowledge would admit of. Clothing and bedding were thus distributed from my quarters by reliable men who knew the people. All those who received money were interviewed, carefully examined and paid by myself, as it was frequently the case that the needy individuals could do better for themselves than I could do for them, by having a small sum given them. Most cattle and pack animals were purchased by individuals for themselves or by a small committee for certain residents of a given village. In such cases I carefully used ordinary business precautions to secure trustworthy results, and required reports. Animals and tools were branded as directed by you. This occasioned some difficulty when dealing with a fresh set of people but they finally came to appreciate its usefulness as a matter of safety and gave assistance when required.
It was our purpose to lift the people up from their deplorable ruins, and to encourage them to look toward reassuring normal conditions, using therein whatever I could command to bring this about.
The estimated result of our work in Harpoot city and district with its 85 villages, was the re-establishment of 4,575 artisans, the providing of 700 oxen, cows, asses and horses ; nearly 3,000 farm implements and other tools were made and distributed, as also 3,500 articles of clothing, 500 beds and 1,470 bushels of grain. Medicine was also furnished to fever patients. I remained in Harpoot with this work until the third of July, when hav-ing received your recall, Mr. Wood was summoned from Parkin and so returned together to Constantinople, via Sivas, Samsoun and the Black Sea, arriving at Constantinople on the 20th of July.
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The guidance and support of the Unseen Hand has spared all from harm, sustained in vigorous health and given the will to do and to hold fast at times when without it the grasp must have slackened and the fight been given up. A word of gratitude to you may yet be added and through you to your right hand, Mr. Pullman, the financial secretary. I was not unmindful of the mental rack upon which you were being daily tried, nor of the heavy responsibility you have carried ; yet you failed not to cheer when the dark days came nor to strengthen and encourage when opportunity
offered ; so that at times of discouragement which it must be confessed did occur, I could always feel that a double vigil was being kept on my behalf; one in the heart of her who ever asks in my far away home, and one in yours, '' Lord, give him wisdom, give fortitude, give patience."
In thus reporting to you, it becomes a pleasure to recall the hospitality so freely offered by many; by Christians and by Moslems, Armenians, Greeks and others who were able to assist. At the different stations of the American Missions our gratitude has been largely drawn upon, for at these we have been treated as brothers. Every one has done all possible for comfort
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and for the furtherance of our work. At Harpoot, where it was my lot to spend many weeks the friendship and moral support received has been and always will be highly valued. At all Consulates on our route, those of our own dear land, those of England and of France, we have been most hospitably welcomed and helped as the occasion gave opportunity. Finally in this connection I recall with most agreeable sensations the reception and warm interest shown in our mission by our countrymen the Admiral and officers of the U. S. Ship San Francisco at Smyrna, and by the officers ot the U. S. Ship Marblehead at Mersina.
Constantinople, July 22d, 1896.
| Pages 1, 2 | Executive
Report by Miss Clara Barton
Financial Report by George H. Pullman | Financial Balance Sheet | Map Of Asia Minor
Pages 57, 58 | 1st Expedition Report | 2nd Expedition Report | 3rd Expediton Report
4th Expedition Report | Telegrams | Red Cross Principles | In Memoriam
Contents (as in the book) | Illustrations
Source: Clara Barton. America's relief expedition to Asia Minor under the Red Cross. Journal Publishing Company, Meriden, Conn. 1896.
Provided by: Sona Tumanyan