Clara Barton Chronology 1861-1869
April 12, 1861
The Civil War began with the firing on Ft. Sumter, South Carolina.
April 19, 1861
Riots in Baltimore, Maryland - En route to defend the nation’s capital, the 6th Massachusetts Infantry was attacked by mobs of southern-sympathizing Baltimoreans as the soldiers marched across town. They arrived in Washington, DC, beaten and with several members of their regiment dead. Miss Barton found them temporarily quartered in the
Senate Chamber of the US Capitol and provided supplies from her own household for their comfort. The overwhelming response to her request for additional supplies for the troops marked the start of her career as the Angel of the Battlefield.
July 21, 1861
Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run), Virginia - Miss Barton tended to wounded soldiers as they arrived in Washington, DC. She established a distribution agency after receiving additional supplies sent in response to an advertisement in the Worcester Spy.
Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman, published an account of the 1859 battle of Solferino in Italy between French and Austrian. In Un Souvenir de Solferino, he outlined a need for wartime relief societies. Clara Barton was unaware of this publication.
March 21, 1862
Clara Barton’s father, Stephen Barton, died in North Oxford, Massachusetts. On his deathbed, he encouraged Clara Barton to continue her patriotic support for the Union.
August 3, 1862
Miss Barton gained official permission to transport supplies to battlefields.
August 9, 1862
Battle of Cedar Mountain (Culpepper), Virginia - This was the first documented battle at which Clara Barton served in the field. Arriving on August 13, she spent two days and nights tending the wounded. Before leaving, she provided assistance at a field hospital for Confederate prisoners.
August 28-30, 1862
Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run), Virginia.
September 1, 1862
Battle of Chantilly, Virginia - Arriving at Fairfax Station after the Battle of Second Manassas, Miss Barton tended to the wounded and prepared the injured for evacuation by train to Washington, DC.
September 14, 1862
Battle of South Mountain, Maryland - Miss Barton aided the wounded at battles near Harper’s Ferry and South Mountain.
September 17, 1862
Battle of Antietam, Maryland - Miss Barton and her wagons arrived on the field with the Army of the Potomac prior to the battle. She provided surgeons with desperately needed medical supplies. During the battle she was nearly killed when a bullet passed through the sleeve of her dress, killing the wounded man she was attending. Although lacking medical training, at the insistence of a wounded soldier, she extracted a bullet from his cheek, using her pocket knife. Working for several days following the conflict, Miss Barton was weakened by typhoid fever.
Sept. - Nov. 1862
Miss Barton travelled with the Army of the Potomac as it pursued the retreating Confederates into Virginia. She provided aid to the wounded at several minor skirmishes and accompanied patients to hospitals in Washington, DC.
December 13, 1862
Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia - Miss Barton assisted in a hospital of the IX Corps, which was established at the Lacy House (Chatham Manor). She remained in the field through most of the month, following the route of the Union Army.
Miss Barton arrived at Hilton Head, South Carolina, in preparation for the anticipated bombardment of Charleston. She joined Captain David Barton, her brother and an Army Quartermaster, and Steven E. Barton, her fifteen year old nephew who was serving in the military telegraph office. She met and befriended Colonel John J. Elwell.
Miss Barton met Frances D. Gage, together they worked to educate former slaves and prepare them for their life beyond slavery. Miss Barton developed an interest in the growing movement for equal rights among women and African Americans.
August 10 - 11, 1863
Siege of Ft. Wagner, South Carolina - Miss Barton helped to establish field hospitals and distributed supplies following the failed assaults.
January - May, 1864
Miss Barton returned to Washington, DC, to collect supplies and to recuperate.
Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House near Fredericksburg, Virginia - Miss Barton arranged for the opening of private homes for the care of wounded with the assistance of Senator Henry Wilson, chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.
Fredericksburg continued to be an important hospital and logistical center for the Union Army, as wounded poured in from the overland campaigns advancing upon Richmond.
June 23, 1864
Miss Barton is placed in charge of diet and nursing at a X Corps hospital near Point of Rocks, Virginia, appointed by Army of the James Commander Major General Benjamin F. Butler. The "flying hospital" served the wounded from the almost daily fighting outside Petersburg.
The first Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded in Armies in the Field is held in Geneva, Switzerland. The International Committee of the Red Cross was established. Clara Barton is unaware of this event and the United States does not join the organization.
January - March 10, 1865
Miss Barton cared for her dying brother, Stephen Barton.
With the assistance of Senator Wilson, Miss Barton won the approval of President Abraham Lincoln to address the problem of large numbers of missing soldiers. By authority of the President, she established The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army on March 11. Recognition by the War Department followed two months later. She directed a four-year search for missing men.
April 9, 1865
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, signalling the end of the Civil War.
Andersonville, Georgia - Aided largely by records kept by prison survivor Dorance Atwater, Miss Barton assisted in the locating and marking of nearly 13,000 Union graves. She raised the US flag at the dedication of Andersonville National Cemetery on August 17, 1865.
February 21, 1866
Miss Barton testified during the 39th Congress about her experience in Andersonville.
March 10, 1866
Congress appropriated $15,000 to reimburse Miss Barton for expenses associated with her search for missing men.
1866 - 1868
Miss Barton delivered over 200 lectures throughout the northeast and midwest regarding her Civil War experiences. She shared platforms with other prominent figures including Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, and Mark Twain. She often earned $75 to $100 per lecture.
November 30, 1867
Miss Barton met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The resulting friendships aligned Miss Barton with the suffrage movement.
Miss Barton lost her voice while delivering a speech from fatigue and mental prostration.
Miss Barton closed The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army, having received and answered 63,182 letters and identified 22,000 missing men.
On the advice of her doctor, Miss Barton travelled to Europe to regain her health. While visiting Switzerland, she met Dr. Louis Appia, and, for the first time, read about the International Red Cross.
Did You Know?
Clara Barton is probably the most famous American nurse who was never a real nurse. She cared for wounded soldiers in the Civil War and as President of the American Red Cross she organized over 18 relief efforts, but she was a former school teacher and government clerk.