Clara Barton Museum

Clara Says …

“The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.”

“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”

“I don’t know how long it has been since my ear has been free from the roll of a drum. It is the music I sleep by and I love it.” –Letter to her father, March 19, 1861

“You know how foolishly tender my friendships are, and how I loved ‘my boys.’” –Commenting on her former pupils in a letter to a friend, January 9, 1862

“I ask neither pay or praise, simply a soldier’s fare and the sanction of your Excellency to go and do with my might, whatever my hands can find to do.” –Letter to Massachusetts Governor Andrew, seeking permission to go to the front, March 20, 1862

“I am glad to know that somewhere they have learned their duty to their country, and have come up neither cowards nor traitors.” –Remarking that many of her former students were now fighting, March 20, 1862

“Though it is little that one woman can do, still I crave the privilege of doing it.” –Letter to I.W. Denney, seeking permission to go to the front, March 30, 1862

“I only wish I could work to some purpose. I have no right to these easy comfortable days and our poor men suffering and dying thirsting … My lot is too easy and I am sorry for it.” –Letter to Mary Norton, July 4, 1862

“It was a miserable night. There was a sense of impending doom. We knew, every one knew, that two great armies of 80,000 men were lying there face to face, only waiting for dawn to begin the battle.”—Writing about the night before the battle of Antietam

“When I reached [home], and looked in the mirror, my face was still the color of gunpowder, a deep blue. Oh yes I went to the front!” –Writing about returning home from Antietam

“We are waiting at the cotside and closing their eyes one by one as they pass away … I cannot but think that we shall win at last, but oh the cost …” –Letter to Mr. Baldwin after Cold Harbor and the Wilderness, May 30, 1864

“God in His goodness gave me speed to my feet and strength to my arms through the hours of that fearful night, that I might nourish the fainting, slake the thirst of the dying, and strive to staunch the life stream as it ebbed away.” –Writing about her experience at Wagner, December 8, 1865