This Week's Story

Wounded soldiers and victims in disaster meet The Angel of the Battlefield, Clara Barton!

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Angel of the Battlefield, part two

Clara Barton’s throat was raw and her nose dripping as winter air bit into her.  She was determined to hear Abraham Lincoln give his first presidential inaugural speech.  People were predicting that he would be assassinated before he became president.   Many Southerners believed that he represented the enemy, The North.  Now he stood, a very tall and thin man, at an outdoor podium by the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.  Thousands of people stood in the cold watching him.

Clara listened intently to him. She thought, “He’s not avoiding tough subjects.  The people’s anger and arguments about slavery are understood by him.  He knows that we, the people of the United States, are close to dividing into two nations and fighting each other.  Saving the Union is his passion.”

Lincoln’s speech was given February 22, 1861; and within two months the Civil War began.  Since she was a child Clara had shown amazing commitment, as a nurse and a teacher, to helping people near her, but not on a national level.  Now her vision changed.

As soldiers arrived and camped outside the capitol, she got involved.  Her concerns for “her boys,” as she called them pushed her into action.  She wrote to schools, churches, civic clubs, and individuals requesting supplies for the soldiers.  Hundreds of boxes came.  She rented space for them and boarded off a corner for her living quarters.

After the first battle of Bull Run, wounded men poured into Washington, D.C.  Sixty-five thousand Americans, inexperienced in warfare, had fought against each other using new muskets and old tactics.  Men were cut to pieces in close range shooting.   Five days after the battle, men were still being brought into the city to hospitals. Many had received no medical attention on the battlefield, when they needed it. One experience etched the need for immediate help into Clara’s mind.  She moved a soldier, who had been lying on the field for five days, his toes were so infected that they dropped off.  She bathed his toeless feet.

Many other women in Washington gathered supplies and volunteered in military hospitals.  No women were authorized to be nursing men on fields directly after or during battles.  Clara wrote to the United States surgeon general asking his permission for herself to go to the front lines in the fighting.  His reply was, “No!”  Clara knew his objections.  She had already received the same answers from other officials and generals.  “Women run at the sight of blood.  Women aren’t strong enough to lift the bodies of men.  When women see wounded men whom they know, they will fall apart.  They’ll be a liability.”

When Clara went to Major Rucker, U.S. Assistant Quartermaster General, he asked her, “What do you want?”  She was so frustrated that she began crying.  Then she collected herself.  “I have a warehouse of supplies to help wounded at the front. I need wagons to transport them.

He told her, “We desperately need what you have.  I will make requisitions for wagons to move the supplies to the front lines and for men to load them.  Here is a pass for you to leave Washington, D.C. with the wagons and travel to the front.  God bless you.”

In coming years Clara was called to battlefields and natural disasters in many countries.  Often people’s suffering and the destruction of their lives and property became too terrible to see.  Then she would focus on the next person she could help.  Soldiers called her, “The Angel of the Battlefield.”

This is Barbara Steiner.  I wonder how do we bring immediate care to wounds we see and hear within our country?   Please check out:

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I think that Clara Barton was an amazing women by helping wounded soldiers during the wear. Wow! How much courage it must take to help all of those men who where severely injured. from Fatima

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