Clara Barton

Clara Barton, a young girl, dreamed of becoming a nurse to help others. She was conceived in Oxford, Massachusetts, on December 25, 1821. She was the third child of Steven Barton (the son) and Sarah Barton (the daughter). Clara was sensitive and shy. Her family educated her. As a young girl, Clara learned geography from her father. She was later able to use this knowledge to help soldiers on the field.

Clara, a civil war veteran, had an enormous impact on the United States. She was a nurse and helped many soldiers in battle. Clara was 17 years old when she became an educator and opened a New Jersey school. With over 600 students attending, the school was a great success. Clara was not chosen to head the school by the school board. Clara founded the school, but the school board refused to give her the job. She moved to Washington D.C. in search of work. Clara was hired by the U.S. Patent Office to be a clerk in mid-1850s. It was the first female to have a permanent job at the government with a decent salary. Many believe Clara’s copperplate handwriting made her well-qualified for the job. At the outbreak civil war, Clara quit her job to become a volunteer. Her opportunity came when regiments arrived at Washington D.C. on April 18, 1861.

Many soldiers died and were injured in the attack on the 6th Massachusetts Infantry as they traveled to Washington, D.C. Clara learned about what had occurred and took immediate action to help the soldiers. To help the wounded, she took supplies from her house. Clara Barton, after curing the soldiers, started a relief programme and began to raise funds to supply medical supplies to Union soldiers. Clara wanted more. In 1862, Clara was granted official permission to transport supplies to the battlefields. This was first time a women was allowed to work at hospitals, camps, battlefields. This was just the beginning for her career as a nurse.

Clara first saw combat at Cedar Mountain, 1862. Clara began traveling throughout World War II with army ambulances in order to provide medical care and aid to thousands upon thousands of soldiers. Military officers initially refused her assistance because she was a female. She eventually gained their trust. She began receiving supplies from all parts of the country after this. Clara became known as “Angel on the Battlefield” because of her extraordinary work in helping wounded soldiers.

Clara was officially made the Union nurses’ superintendent in 1864. People were always grateful for Clara’s help wherever she went. Three army wagons of supplies were brought by her to the Battle of Antietam. She assisted the surgeons making bandages from cornhusks. Clara started to search out men who were able to help soldiers wounded and carry water. Clara carried her supplies wagons along when she traveled with Union troops. Clara was a confederate prisoner and a confederate soldier. She would assist any soldier she saw.

Clara Barton felt part of the war as she helped wounded soldiers in various battles. She only ate the food provided by soldiers and did not consider herself to be any different. After some time soldiers began to recognize her. They felt more secure knowing that she was caring for them. One battle saw a bullet pass her shoulder, killing the soldier she was caring for. All soldiers loved Clara. Clara was a support soldier in sixteen battles before the Civil War ended.

Abraham Lincoln named her General Correspondent to the Friends of Paroled Prisoners in March 1865. Her task was to locate missing soldiers among Maryland’s prison, parole, and causality lists. Clara Barton founded the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States. In order to find missing soldiers, she published Lists of Missing Men. Around 20,000 men were traced by her. Andersonville prison anonymous graves were marked and identified thanks to her assistance.

Clara travelled to Europe after the civil conflict, as her doctor directed. While in Europe, she came across the International Red Cross. In 1870, she was involved in the Franco-Prussian War. After returning home, she began pushing for an American Red Cross branch. She called on the United States to adopt the Geneva Convention. This treaty allowed medical personnel to be treated in neutral roles and could help the wounded and sick during wars. In 1881, the American Red Cross was established.

Clara Barton served as the President of American Red Cross between 1882 and 1904. During the Spanish-American War, the Red Cross was in Cuba and provided assistance to victims of disasters like the Flood of 1889 Johnstown and Flood of 1900 Galveston. Clara quit the American Red Cross in 1904. On April 12, 1912, she died in her home.


  • benjaminchambers

    Benjamin Chambers is an educator and blogger who focuses on using technology in the classroom. He has written for sites like The Huffington Post and The EdTech Digest, and has been featured in outlets like Forbes and The New York Times. Chambers' work has helped him to develop a following of educators and students who appreciate his down-to-earth approach to learning technology.