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Angel of the Battlefield
Clara saw the wounded being loaded on a train and realized that the men wouldn't be fed until they arrived in Washington. She got permission to stop the wagons bringing the wounded to the train so that they could be fed.
As the feeding was going on word came that Union General Philip Kearny had been killed when he had ventured across the front line in the dark.
His demoralized army began retreating with the Confederates in full pursuit.
In minutes Barton was on the train with all of her patients. The conductor took a torch and set the railroad station on fire to keep it out of enemy hands. As the train was rounding a bend, Clara could see the station ablaze and the Confederate Cavalry galloping down the hill.
In December of 1862 Clara Barton learned that the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia were massing near the Rappahannock River.
The Confederates, under General Robert E. Lee, were positioned on the South Bank near the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Union Army, under the Command of General Ambrose Burnside, was positioned on the North Bank.
At Burnside’s camp, Clara stationed herself at the large Lacy House that was being used as a hospital. She was hard at work nursing the wounded and organizing a kitchen for the hundreds of wounded when on the following day, Dr. Clarence Cutter asked her to cross the river to help at the hospitals that had been set up in schools, houses and churches.
There was fighting going on in all of Fredericksburg and both Union and Confederate wounded were being treated at the Union hospitals.
The Union was forced to retreat across the pontoon bridges that Burnside, at the beginning, had hoped to bring him a victory at Fredericksburg.
At all of these battles my great grandfather and the New York 38th Regiment were under the Command of General Birney. At Fredericksburg they were part of the Grand Army of the Left. The Union loss at Fredericksburg was over 13,000 and the Confederate loss was less than one half of that according to the reports of Division Commanders.
Clara went on to nurse the wounded in other Civil War Battles and later in European Battles of the Franco–Prussian War.
The 38th Regiment ended its two-year tour just eight days before Gettysburg and my great grandfather went home to my great grand mother and her infant child in Pearl River New York. The three-year men of the 38th had to join the 40th New York to fight at Gettysburg. The total loss of the 38th in their two-year tour was 482.
Clara Barton was indeed an American Woman of Achievement who had overcome her basically shy nature. In Europe she was rewarded with many medals that were seldom given to women including the Cross of Imperial Russia and the Iron Cross of Germany.
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