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October 13, 2011
The Long Roll (3)By Greyhawk
April, 1861 - Clarissa, along with those other residents of Washington D.C. whose sympathies didn't lie with the South, was glad to hear the first regiments of troops called for by President Lincoln had arrived. With Virginia out of the Union and Maryland tilting away, the fate of the city was uncertain, at best, in the weeks after Sumter. Yet in a letter to a friend sent not long after those first regiments arrived she downplayed any earlier sense of peril. "As yet we have had no cause for alarm, if indeed we were disposed to feel any. The city is filling up with troops..."
Another acquaintance had described her as "confident, even enthusiastic" in the wake of Sumter. Where others might be motivated - or discouraged - by preservation of the Union, Clarissa's stance was built on a firm anti-slavery foundation. For her the war began not with secession, or Sumter, but in 1856 when Charles Sumner delivered his "The Crime Against Kansas" speech in the Senate. She was ready - the rest of the nation could now catch up to her. "She had feared that the Southern aristocracy, by their close combination and superior political training, might succeed in gradually subjugating the whole country;" her friend later recalled, "but of that there was no longer any danger..."
"...The war might be long and bloody, but the rebels had abandoned a policy on which the odds were in favor of their ultimate success, for one in which they had no chance at all. For herself, she had saved a little in time of peace, and she intended to devote it and herself to the service of her country and humanity. If war must be, she neither expected nor desired to come out of it with a dollar. If she survived, she could no doubt earn a living. And if she died, it was no matter."
If she seemed rather dismissive of ever having had cause for alarm in the light of day after the troops had arrived, then her earlier pronouncements reveal someone rather difficult to alarm. "I think the city will be attacked within the next sixty days," she'd written her niece just after Sumter. "If it must be, let it come, and when there is no longer a soldier's arm to raise the Stars and Stripes above our Capitol, may God give strength to mine."
Clarissa wasn't typical of her times. She'd been a school teacher in Massachusetts, but had determined that as noble a calling as it was, that wasn't the life for her. Now, in 1861, she was working in the US Patent Office in Washington. On hearing that the 6th Massachusetts had arrived from her home state - and that they'd had to fight their way through Baltimore to get there - images of her former students no doubt came to mind. They were quartered in the Capitol Building - at least, those who weren't in the infirmary. She made her way to both in those days, determined to bind their wounds and feed them, and described that experience in her no cause for alarm letter to a friend.
She would soon exhaust all resources she had - but it occurred to her that with a letter or an advertisement in the Worcester Spy calling for donations from the folks back home she might be able to keep her efforts going a bit longer. Clarissa wasn't the sort to wonder 'what could one woman do?' - she was the sort to do.
My friends call me Clara, she might tell the youthful troops while changing their bandages or serving them a meal through the years to come. But the more formal among them would insist on "Miss Barton" - though all would declare her an angel.
(Part four here...)
Posted by Greyhawk / October 13, 2011 5:15 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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