Under a lowering sky near the
North Woods on Antietam National Battlefield rests the monument to Clara Barton. Called affectionately "The Angel of the
Battlefield", Clara Barton provided crucial supplies to the field surgeons and tended to the needs of the wounded and dying. Along
with her other gifts, she brought the surgeons lanterns, which allowed them to continue to work into the night. Without these supplies,
many more would have died on what would already be known as the bloodiest day of the war. A plaque near this monument describes not only
what she endured in order to serve, but the impact she had on those fortunate enough to be with her.
"At a farmhouse and barn, not far from here, Clara Barton labored without sleep for three days, comforting the wounded of the
Battle of Antietam with water, food, and medical supplies.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, began her lifetime of mercy work at the outset of the Civil War. She spent the war's
first year gathering medical supplies from Union citizens. Hearing gruesome reports from the front, she pleaded with the Army to permit
her to bring these supplies to the battlefield where the men needed them most. Finally gaining permission, she arrived at Antietam to
find surgeons using corn husks for dressings.
I took my arms full of stimulants and bandages...I found myself...face to face with...one of the kindest and nobler surgeons I had ever
met. He at length threw up his hands with "God has indeed remembered us...we have not a bandage, rag, lint, or string...and wounded
men bleeding to death."
Recalling the dreadful events, in a letter, Clara Barton relayed,
"A man lying upon the ground asked for drink--I stooped to give it, and having raised him with my right hand, was holding the cup
to his lips with my left, when I felt a sudden twitch of the loose sleeve of my dress--the poor fellow sprang from my hands and fell
back quivering in the agonies of death--a ball had passed between my body--and the right arm which supported him--cutting through the
sleeve, and passing through his chest from shoulder to shoulder. There was no more to be done for him and I left him to rest."
The red cross positioned at the middle of the monument's base is made from a brick taken from the chimney of the home where she was
born, Christmas Day, 1821.