Clara Barton and Bermuda Hundred

The Civil War had been raging for three years by the time it began to really heat up as Union forces arrived en masse to begin their Bermuda Hundred campaign. From May 5 through most of May the Federals tried to make their way off the peninsula and north to Richmond. On May 20, at Ware Bottom Church, the Federals and Confederates clashed for the last time. The southern army had “bottled up” the Feds, and the Union had to take another route to Richmond.

As the battles and skirmishes at Bermuda Hundred raged, a woman who would become famous for her sacrifice to help others was tending to the sick and wounded at a Union hospital set up at Point of Rocks. Women, during the Civil War, were not permitted to work in hospitals on battlefields, but Clara Barton’s earlier relief effort earned her permission from the surgeon general to work in battlefield hospitals. Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881.

According to “Bermuda Hundred Campaign: Tour Guide,” Barton wrote a description of Bermuda Hundred at the time. “The mercury above a hundred, the atmosphere and everything about one black with flies, the dust rolling away in clouds as far as the eye can penetrate, the ashy ground covered with scores of hospital tents shielding nearly all conceivable maladies that soldier flesh is heir to, and stretching on beyond the miles of bristling fortifications, entrenchments, and batteries encircling Petersburg – all ready to blaze.”   

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