In the American Civil War, The United States Sanitary Commission, staffed by volunteers, may be viewed as a precursor to The Red Cross. It supplemented the medical care of the armed services medical corps. Its doctors, nurses, administrators, go-fers, money, and supplies saved thousands of lives, providing medical care to the wounded and solace to the families of the dead. This memoir of one campaign gives a flavor of the challenges faced, frustrations endured, and medical battles lost and won. Explanatory note: “contraband” refers to a black slave, esp. a fugitive or captured slave. Summary by david wales and Oxford English Dictionary.