Civil War
1:39 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Clara Barton: More Than the Red Cross

It's hard to place enough significance on how the American Civil War would go on to shape our country and its people - or to overestimate the extreme loss of life it caused.

Beyond the battlefields, however, the War Between the states also brought forth many firsts, such as the first Army ambulance corps, the first use of conscription of soldiers, the first black U.S. Army officer - the list goes on and on.

Clara Barton, in a 1906 photograph.
Credit Wiki Commons photo

Among those firsts was the first woman nurse on the battle front. You may be asking yourself: Didn't the possibly apocryphal "Molly Pitcher" tend to soldiers during the Revolutionary War, or Florence Nightengale nurse combatants during the Crimean War?

Leslie Goddard, says that’s true, but it was Clara Barton who would go directly to the frontlines during Civil War battles to tend to the wounded and dying. Barton would, of course, go on to found the American Red Cross.

Goddard is a historical re-enactor who portrays Barton at museums and presentations around the Chicago area.

She recently performed as Barton at the fifth annual Great Lakes Civil War Forum, hosted by the Kenosha Civil War Museum, and she tells Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci how she began portraying the famous nurse.