Clara Barton Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Claire DeSaussure

Claire has worked in behavioral programs at the Elementary Level and has an MLS with a focus on Creative Writing.

Clara Barton is most remembered for being the founder of the American Red Cross, but before that time Clara was a woman who changed lives by helping wounded soldiers and working as a teacher. In this lesson, we will learn about Barton's life and legacy.

The Making of a Heroine

Have you ever been told that you have too much energy? Or maybe people say that you are too shy. Perhaps you can tell them the story of Clara Barton, a shy, energetic girl who grew up to change American history.

Clara Barton was born in 1821. She loved to be outside and be active, but she was shy with people. When Clara was 11, her brother David fell off his horse. Doctors said they couldn't help him, but Clara wouldn't give up, and for two years she took care of him. After his recovery, Clara sunk into a deep sadness without an outlet for her nurturing energy.

Clara Barton in 1851
Young Clara Barton

Her Work Begins

Clara worked as a teacher by the young age of 15. She later helped set up a school close to her home.

In 1861, Clara went to work for the government in Washington D.C. While she was there, Clara saw injured soldiers coming from the battlefields of the American Civil War , a war between northern and southern states over slavery rights. Clara noticed many of these soldiers didn't have necessary food or medicine and she began collecting the things the men needed.

Clara Goes To Battle

Clara decided to get these necessary supplies to the soldiers on battlefields too. In 1862, Clara took medical supplies to the Battle of Cedar Mountain in Virginia. A doctor there was so happy to receive her support that he later referred to her as 'The Angel of the Battlefield' in a letter to a colleague. Clara eventually took supplies to the battle of Fairfax Station and to fifteen other battles as well. At the Battle of Antietam, Clara thought the army medical units were too slow and she went ahead of them into the middle of the fighting. As Clara helped a soldier, she felt her sleeve move. She looked down and saw a bullet hole in her dress. The bullet had barely missed Clara but killed the soldier she was helping.

Civil War Field Hospital in Virginia, 1862
Civil War Field Hospital

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