Published: April 3, 2023
SOUTH GLASTONBURY, CONN. — The Friday, April 14, Connecticut River Book Auction will greet attendees with a multitude of signed material, with one of the more interesting items being a Civil War letter from Red Cross founder Clara Barton.
Born on Christmas Day, 1821, in North Oxford, Mass., Barton was an outstanding student, particularly excelling at reading and spelling. When she was a young girl, her brother David sustained a serious accident while working on a barn.
She insisted on nursing him back to health and then realized that her calling in life was to help others. She dedicated her long life (90 years) to this purpose, eventually founding the International Red Cross in 1881. Prior to that momentous founding, however, Barton distinguished herself as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War. The letter to be auctioned April 14 demonstrates that nickname well.
This letter is undoubtedly addressed to the man who became her assistant and was later in charge of the Clara Barton Ambulance Corps in the early 1900s: Roscoe Wells. In the letter, Barton references recovering from ill health and is back to work. She mentions unpacking boxes of shirts, which she had received from Worcester, likely as a result of advertisements she had placed in Massachusetts newspapers requesting items such as shirts to be sent to her for distribution to the soldiers. Then she mentions how she had been taking care of men from the Connecticut 11th.
The letter goes on to discuss getting ready to go to Sharpsburg and then references being informed of the death of her “Sabbath School Superintendent” from her hometown. She also notes the generosity of a ship’s captain in helping to transport her to and from the battlefield, generosity that was typically given to her by many officers in recognition of the tremendous respect that she enjoyed.
Finally, she mentions spending time recently with a brave brigadier general named Cowdin from the 1st Massachusetts and notes his recent promotion despite being “a bitter foe” of the Massachusetts governor.
Add to this volumes signed by Benjamin Netanyahu, Madeleine Albright, Harry Belafonte and Henry Kissinger and the sale promises to be another enjoyable evening.
The auction begins at 6 pm, Friday, April 14 at the South Congregational Church, 949 Main Street. For information, 860-908-8067 or www.ctriverbookauction.com.
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