Clarissa Harlowe Barton, most widely, known as Clara, was born on December 25, 1821. She was the youngest of five children in her middle-class family. She was home-schooled until the age of 15, when she decided to begin teaching. Her most notable antebellum achievement was her establishment of a school in Bordentown, N.J. .
She was the founder of the Red Cross, yet her only previous medical experience was her job nursing an invalid brother for two years. After the riots in Baltimore, when the 6th Massachusetts Regiments arrived in the city, she began her relief program. This was the onset of her founding of the Red Cross.
Barton learned that the soldiers needed more medical attention after nursing soldiers after the Battle of the Bull Run. She advertised for donations in Massachusetts for medical supplies, which is when she decided to begin an independent organization to distribute goods to help treat the wounded soldiers.
For the next few years, she worked throughout different army operations. At this time, she started to gain her first national notice. This was when she made her only formal Civil War connection, by serving as a superintendent of nurses at Major General Benjamin F. Butler's command. Later, she started a program for locating men who were said to be missing in action. Throughout different interviews, she was able to determine where most of the men were at the time. .
By this time she had performed most of the services that would later be associated with the American Red Cross, which she founded in 1881. In 1904 she resigned as head of that organization, retiring to her home, where she died on April 12th, 1912.