“Between the Bullet and the Hospital: Clara Barton and the Civil War,” — a historical lecture about the life of Clara Barton will be held at the Germantown Library on Saturday, May 13 at 3:00 pm. The lecture, sponsored by the Germantown Historical Society and the National Park Service, describes Miss Barton’s service to her country in the Civil War and afterwards.
Miss Barton wrote: “My business is stanching blood and feeding fainting men; my post the open field between the bullet and the hospital.” Clara Barton struggled to gain access into a Victorian era work force that limited professional opportunities for women. In her history of public service before the Civil War she was a teacher in Massachusetts and New Jersey, and was one of the first women to work for the federal government.
When the Civil War started she was an unmarried woman living in Washington City and fighting to keep a job at the U.S. Patent Office. The Civil War set Barton on a path of a different type of public service, one where she endured some of the same terrible conditions and extreme dangers as the soldiers. This path took Barton to Antietam, where she worked as the battle raged around her. At the battle of Fredericksburg she was the only woman working at the front. Later, Clara Barton was there when the African American troops of the 54th Massachusetts attacked Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Clara Barton did all this without formal training as a nurse and did not join in with the Superintendent of Army Nurses, Dorthea Dix’s nurses, or collaborate with the Christian Commission or the Sanitary Commission.
After the war, Clara Barton continued to serve by working to account for missing and dead soldiers. She traveled to Europe to recover from years of stress caused by the war. There she discovered the International Red Cross. She was still in Europe when the Franco- Prussian War broke out; she volunteered for the German Red Cross during that conflict. She then returned to America with the desire to found the American Red Cross. Clara Barton pushed to gain full access to the world she lived in. Once access was gained before, during, or after the war, she fought to maintain her independent position.
This illustrated talk by Park Ranger Kevin Patti from Clara Barton National Historic Site will use photos from the Civil War era to explore the dangers Clara Barton faced and the accomplishments she achieved. This free program will be presented on Saturday, May 13, 3:00 pm at the Germantown Library, which is located at 19840 Century Boulevard in Germantown. For further information call 301-972-2707.
Photo of Clara Barton circa 1865 by Mathew Brady, Washington, D.C. Most famous and widely circulated photograph of Clara Barton. This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 526057