Even though she began working as a teacher, Clara Barton later came to work as a recording secretary in the U.S Patent office, in Washington D.C. William (1966) further explains that, during this time, the first bunch of the federal army came into the state. This was in the year 1861. The war was just in progress, and the town folk were bewildered. Clara saw the need to cater for the young soldier recruits who were in need of food, a place to stay and medical services. She provided clothing and took food to the soldiers on behalf of the country’s organizations such as the U.S Sanitary. In the course of her kind work, she realized that she had taught some of them in her former years as a teacher.
As much as she was needed by the infantry in Washington, she knew she was needed even more in the battlefields. After she convinced the government and the army of this, she was allowed to take her services to those that were freshly wounded in the field hospitals. After taking supplies to the soldiers and the wounded in the hospitals, the soldiers and doctors coined the name ‘Angel of The Battlefield’ for her. Clara was never at peace in the hospitals; she went into the battlefields before the supplies wagon and took care of the sick until additional help arrived.
In addition to this, because of her travels in and out of the battlefield, she took it upon herself to look for the missing soldiers. William (1966) explains that the then president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, addressed the nation, giving instructions of how people looking for soldiers in different infantries could communicate with Clara. She answered thousands of letters for the families of the missing soldiers and years later, she started a tracing service by the Red Cross, which today is one of the organizations most essential services. She further heightened her service in the Civil War when she founded a cemetery near the graves of soldiers who died in the infamous Andersonville Prison, located in the state of Georgia. With the help of a former inmate from the same penitentiary and a team of 30 soldiers, they identified thousands of graves. Ishbel (1956) states that, in 1865 Clara explained that she was satisfied with her work. This was far from the truth. In 1869, when she retired and went to Europe, she met the founder of the global Red Cross and fought hard for the U.S to sign the Red Cross Treaty.
In 1870, another war broke out and true to nature, Clara jumped into action. This time in the company of volunteers from the Red Cross, though she had not yet joined the organization. She made the famous Red Cross symbol from a ribbon she had and did what she knew best, distribute relief to those most needing it. Since the war was in France, she established workrooms in which citizens of the city could make clothes for the soldiers. She stayed in France until the war in Strasbourg ended.
Moved by the occurrences in Europe, Clara moved back to the US after discussing with the officials from Red Cross about starting the organization in the States. A few years later, the then president signed the agreement to start the foundation and the senate ratified it in 1881. Although Durant had started the organization for periods of war purposes only, Clara spearheaded a motion to provide services to cover most needs like natural disasters. In 1892, the first shipment of supplies to Cuba was for services that were not only for the soldiers but for the civilians, as well.
Conklin, W. D. (1966). Clara Barton and Dansville. New York, NY: F. A. Owen Publishing Company.
Ross, I. (1956). Angel of the battlefield: The life of Clara Barton. New York, NY: Harper.