This Saturday marks the 154th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Antietam—what has been called “the single bloodiest day in American military history.” Confederate army and Union troops faced off in Sharpsburg, Maryland. They fought for almost two days and when the battle ended, there were over 22,000 casualties among both sides. In the middle of it all, Clara Barton, a former teacher and government clerk, drove wagons of supplies around battle lines and tended to wounded soldiers.
Antietam marked the beginning of the legacy of Clara Barton, who on that day earned the title “Angel of the Battlefield.” Today, a monument to her stands at one end of the battlefield.
Bringing the Red Cross to America
When the war ended, Barton continued to work for the soldiers, founding the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States to identify the millions of missing and dead soldiers. After a visit to Geneva with the International Red Cross in 1880, she returned and established the American Red Cross and became its president until 1904.
Continuing to Inspire Nurses: An Upcoming Tour and Blog Series
Reading about her in grammar school was one of the reasons I became interested in nursing as a career. And I was not alone—she inspired many. And she has now inspired a group of admirers to visit those places—both here in the U.S. and in Geneva—that were important sites in her career.
Sue Hassmiller, a long-time Red Cross volunteer and board member, has organized a study tour, Clara Barton: From the Civil War to the Red Cross to Today. It begins in Washington, DC, during the last week of September, and then heads to Geneva, home of the International Red Cross. Participants will be tweeting using the hashtag, #ClaraB2016, and we’ll have frequent blog posts highlighting the sites they visit.
So plan to follow along on Twitter or on this blog, where new posts will be added to the ongoing Clara Barton Study Tour series during the tour, and learn about the work of this remarkable woman, which is continued today by the many nurses who volunteer their service to the Red Cross. (On a last note, here’s an all-too-relevant quote attributed to Ms. Barton in 1865: “I went to the Senate, accomplished nothing as usual.”—Some things never change!)
[top image: Clara Barton photographed by Matthew Brady, 1865]