Clara Barton to the American People
Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly
By Reverend Peter MacQueen
Page 7 of 7
“…supplies was subscribed in the first place for the reconcentrados. But in distress the Red Cross knows no nationality or rank. It only wants to know if a human being is suffering. It is too bad that the Commissary Department of the United States is so incomplete at this point. If the great, rich, prosperous, abounding country of America cannot feed a handful of soldiers in a pacified province, what would it do if the army were as large as that of our Civil War, and if it were quartered in a hostile country? Yes, I will help every division in the army as long as the things last.’
‘What do you think of the Cuban question of self-government?’ I asked.
‘I like the Cubans more, as I see them more. They impress me better here than the “laborantes” of New York. Those might be schemers. But the poor folk here do not know enough. There is a Scotchman named McKelsey here who is rich and benevolent. About eighteen months ago he opened a soup kitchen, at which he has been feeding ten thousand a day. But I understand he is about out of supplies. I shall probably help him. He has saved this city. Some of the Cubans are high and some of them are low; but I think Cuba will govern herself well in time.
Mrs. Gardiner and myself,’ continues Clara Barton, ‘did not do very much nursing. We came, of course, with these supplies- and it was our duty to get them off the ship as quickly as we could. Dr. Sternberg said he was amply prepared for all emergencies. But on the 3d of July word came from division headquarters asking us for help. So, with Mrs. Gardner, I went there. We rode upon a hay-wagon. We started to prepare delicacies for the men. We stayed from ten days to two weeks. Each day we prepared: fifteen gallons of rice; ten gallons of malted milk; five gallons of cocoa; ten gallons of apple-sauce. Aside from that we made prune juice, and pine-apple and dried-apple juice. We mixed them and the army nurses carried them to the wounded. It was not much, but we were glad to be able to help. We also helped the government at Siboney with cots, blankets, bedding and hospital supplies. We shall stay in a little house in the he town of Santiago. I wish to greet and thank the American people for their unfailing support and the unbounded generosity. They can do anything when they begin.’
Thus talked the ‘Angel of Cuba.’ Then she drifted back to Constantinople:
‘The Turk is a brave, clean fellow,’ she said. ‘It will take the Christian nations a great while to beat a race who believe with all their might in the family as they see it; in their God, and in their region.’
On night, away out in the hills, I asked a Third Cavalryman: ‘Whom do you think the greatest hero of the war at Santiago?’ He changed his quid, took out of his mouth and old black corn-cob pipe, looked away to the red rim of hills which the sun was coloring, and reflectively replied: ‘Well, partner, ef you want to know, my ideas is thet thet there little old lady, named Miss Bartoum, or Battom, or Blartom, or whatever is her name- she’s the best of all. She is a strictly proper character, neighbor. I seen her a-goin’ through two feet six inches o’ mud to tie up a chap as was bleedin’ to death. She, comrade, is to my ideas the hero o’ this yer bloomin’ campaign.’”
Clara Barton National Historic Site, CLBA 4512