Clarissa (Clara) Harlowe Barton was born on December 25th, 1821. She had four siblings, and her parents were Stephen Barton and Sarah Barton. At a young age she liked to take care of animals and would bring them in if they were hurt, make them better and then let them go. When she was eleven she had her first nursing job, her brother David was at the top of a barn and he fell off the top of the barn. In 1854 after twelve years of teaching and having her own school she quite because she lost her voice. She then moved to Washington DC and got a job in the patent office as a clerk, she was the first women to work as a clerk at a U.S. patent office.
On April 12, 1865 the Civil War broke out the battle lines were just across the river from her. She was on of the first people to tend the Battle of Bull Run. Soldiers were pouring into Washington. She saw all the wounded soldiers, some who she knew personally. She knew that she had to do something to help. She started gathering band-aids, blankets, medicine, food, anything she could have thought of. Clara wrote to friends in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey asking them to help. On August 3, 1862 she finally got official permission to transport supplies to battlefields and arrived in the Union camps four days after the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia. She stayed two days and night to help all the soldiers that got hurt. On September 1 she arrived to Fairfax Station and helped more wounded soldiers from the Second Battle of Bull Run. She then traveled to Antietam Creek, she arrived with four wagons before the Battle of Antietam. She supplied surgeons with badly needed supplies. She was so close to the battlefield that one time she felt the sleeve of her dress move, a bullet went through the sleeve of her dress and killed the soldier she was tending at the Battle of Antietam. During the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, she assisted in a hospital at Chatham, known as the Lacy House, helping wounded soldiers from both sides. She was able to set up a soup kitchen, returning to Chatham the next day to continue helping the wounded. Because the physicians were too busy to keep records, Clara wrote the names of the men who died at Chatham and where they were buried in her diary. At the Battle of Fredericksburg she saw a piece from an exploding shell sever a soldier’s artery and applied a tourniquet that saved his life. When a shell hit the door of the room she was in she kept what she was doing like nothing ever happened. In June 1864 Clara was chosen by Army of the James Commander Major General Benjamin F. Butler to be in charge of diet and nursing in the X Corps hospital, called a “flying hospital” because of its often moves to be close to the battlefields.
On March 11th, 1865 Clara was selected by Abraham Lincoln to “search for missing prisoners of war,” helping soldiers separated from their families and helping families learn the outcome of missing soldiers. In 1866, Clara began a lecture tour throughout the Northeast and Midwest, describing her Civil War experiences. She usually shared the platform with other speakers and meet many new people that later became some of her very close friends.
After her two-year lecture tour Clara went to Europe in September 1869 from the advice from her doctor because of all her hard work she has done in the past few years. While overseas she learned of the organization called the International Red Cross. This organization helped wounded soldiers during war. After working with the Red Cross in France she wanted to bring this organization to the U.S. It took a ton of work but after four years of promoting, she founded the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881. Since then the Red Cross has helped many people recover from many disasters. Today the Red Cross runs a huge blood donation program that helps hospitals stay occupied with much blood needed.