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Clara Barton

The work of Clara Barton in the Civil War began in 1861. She was responsible for creating a means to procure and distribute supplies needed by wounded soldiers. She was even allowed to travel behind the lines of enemy troops, serving the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy. She would become a well-respected lecturer after the Civil War and go on to create the American Red Cross.

At the age of 16, Clara Barton was advised to become a teacher, since she was quite shy. She taught in Massachusetts for ten years, and was invited to Bordentown, New Jersey, to teach in a private school. She saw personally that these communities needed free education for their citizens, and she responded by creating a free school, one of the first in her state. Later, officials would bypass her as principal, and appoint a male, instead. She resigned and moved to Washington DC, becoming the first woman employed by the U. S. Patent Office.

Clara Barton was forever changed by her experience with the troops in the Civil War. She saw surgeons dressing wounds with cornhusks, since they had nothing else. The medical supplies for the Army were well behind the troops, who were moving faster than their medical supply lines. She brought in a wagon of bandages and assorted medical supplies that she had collected personally over the course of the prior year.

Barton was not afraid to work in the battle zones. She gave support to soldiers who were suffering, and made food for them in nearby farmhouses. She also got water to men who had been wounded. She assisted surgeons in whatever way they needed. When the surgeons couldn't work after dusk due to insufficient light, Barton procured lanterns from her supply wagon, and the doctors were able to work into the night.

After that battle, the South retreated and there were extra supplies rolling in. Barton collapsed, suffering from typhoid fever, but after returning to Washington to recuperate, she went back to the Civil War battlefields. Barton continued to work on the battlefields throughout the war.

She helped in the identification process of 13,000 deceased Union soldiers. Afterward, she was a prominent figure in a campaign that spanned the nation, to identify missing soldiers from the Civil War. This non-stop work debilitated her, and upon recommendation by her physicians, she traveled to Europe to recuperate.

While in Europe, and still in poor health Miss Barton was moved by the hardship on civilians brought about by the France-Prussia war. She helped in their relief effort, and in that work was inspired to create the Red Cross, which served all troops and civilians under a neutral flag.

Clara Barton returned to America and then began the establishment of the American Red Cross. The U.S. government did not think there would ever be another war, after the horror of the Civil War. But she convinced them that the Red Cross would be valuable to serve in times of natural disasters, as well. This was her lasting legacy, an agency that still provides aid to victims today.


There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Clara Barton biography presented above there is also a pinky swear secret you should know. And this secret is that one time Clara Barton bought a chair at Oprah's garage sale and underneath it were the keys to a new car.


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