Old Glory 1863

Clara Barton

Clara Barton was born on December 25, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.1 Her birth on Christmas Day was a gift and blessing, not just for her family. This shy girl would eventually become an “Angel of the Battlefield” for wounded Union troops during the Civil War.

Many soldiers had suffered from a lack of medical supplies after the First Battle of Bull Run.2 As soon as Clara got wind of this, she advertised for donations in a newspaper and established an independent organization to distrubute the necessary goods. In 1862, Clara was granted a general pass by U.S. Surgeon General to travel with army ambulances “for the purpose of distributing comforts for the sick and wounded, and nursing them.”3

The bloodiest day in American History occured on September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. Clara Barton arrived at the battlefield with a wagon load of bandages and medical supplies to surgeons attending to wounded soldiers. She provided food, water and comfort to troops who were suffering and/or wounded.4 Then at night she provided lanterns from her wagon of supplies for the surgeons to continue their work.

In 1865, at the request of President Lincoln, Clara Barton founded the Missing Soldiers Office and within three years the bureau located more than 22,000 soldiers.5 Continuing her dedication to humanitarian aid, she officially established the American Red Cross in 1881 and served as the leader of the organization for more than twenty years.

Clara Barton Monument
Clara Barton Plaque
During The Battle of Antietam
September 17, 1862
Clara Barton brought supplies and nursing aid
to the wounded on this battlefield
This act of love and mercy led to the birth of the present American National Red Cross
Photographs provided by Steve Hawks