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In addition to the nearly 215,000 men who died in battle during the Civil War, at least 400,000 more died of disease. Reducing that latter toll, as well as improving the general health of soldiers on both sides of the war, was the mission of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. It coordinated groups that collected food, clothing, and medical supplies, recruited nurses, and hired civilian doctors to inspect military hospitals. After the battle of Gettysburg alone, the commission distributed 60 tons of perishables, including 112,000 eggs, almost 3 tons of butter, and 11,000 pounds of fresh meat. Abraham Lincoln donated his original manuscript of the Emancipation Proclamation to the Chicago Sanitary Fair as a fundraiser for the commission. “I had some desire to retain the paper,” Lincoln wrote, “but if it shall contribute to the relief and comfort of the soldiers, that will be better.” Juanita Leisch will discuss the role women played in the commission’s work at 1 p.m. at Fort Ward Museum’s Library, 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria. $5. For reservations call (703) 838-4848. (Janet Hopf)