The Unsung Heroes of Battle: The Story of Clara Barton, Civil War Nurse

The Civil War raged across the landscape, dividing a nation. The Northern States fought to keep the Union intact, but given a difference in ideals, the Southern States strove to succeed and form their own nation known as the Confederacy. For 4 years, both sides fought fiercely and tireless in the fields of battle. Over the course of the war heros emerged on the battlefield, however there are heroes whose courage and efforts have gone un-noticed. These individuals were the Battlefield nurses and doctors of the Civil War.

Clara Barton is regarded as one of the most famous nurses of the Civil War. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Barton was one of the first volunteers at the Washington D.C Infirmary to care for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Bull Run. After working in city hospitals, Barton left to work in the field hospitals, set up just outside the battlefield. When she arrived she brought three army wagons full of supplies that were welcome sights for the depleted field hospitals.

In addition, Barton organized men to perform first aid, carry water and prepare food for the wounded. She also traveled with her supply wagons to give aid to Union casualties and Confederate prisoners of war.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton

In 1863, Clara Barton would travel to the Union controlled coastal regions around Charleston, South Carolina. On July 14, 1863 Barton moved from Hilton Head Island to Morris Island to tend the growing number of sick and wounded soldiers.

While serving with the Morris Island campaign, Clara Barton began working out of her tent, to address the growing problem of sickness on the island by passing out fresh food and mail to the troops in the trenches.  Barton herself would eventually full under the same sickness.

In 1965, President Abraham Lincoln appointed her General Correspondent for the Friends of Paroled Prisoners. Her job was to respond to anxious inquiries from the friends and relatives of missing soldiers by locating them among the prison rolls, parole rolls, or casualty lists at the camps in Annapolis, Maryland.

After the war, 1869 Clara Barton traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as a member of the International Red Cross. In 1880 the American Red Cross was established, from the  hard of work by Barton. She would  serve as the organization’s first president until 1904 and continued her tradition of philanthropy as a volunteer in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, providing aid to the wounded.

Barton, is just one example of the many men and women that served with bravery and valance during the Civil War.

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