Founder of the American Red Cross and “Angel of the Battlefield” Clara Barton gets new statue in Hagerstown

07 May 2024- In a ceremony near City Park and at the very end of Hagerstown’s Cultural Trail, dignitaries celebrated the completion and grandeur of a new sculpture of famed Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton.

Barton has a rich history in and around Hagerstown, as she built and ran many war hospitals during the war between the states, during which she gained her reputation as a savior of those who had been injured or wounded in battle.

The sculpture, by nationally recognized Maryland-based sculptor Toby Mendez, has already been called a “monumental example of public service by ‘The Angel of the Battlefield.’” The sculpture of Clara Barton will be a lasting legacy for the public.

Mendez explained the project, which immortalizes in bronze the woman often called the “Florence Nightingale of America.” The completed public art project, in Hagerstown-Washington County, is a memorial to Clara Barton’s “first response to care.” Mendez said, “It was at the Battle of Antietam in 1862 where Clara Barton first demonstrated and developed this philosophy that she would later bring to help create the American Red Cross.” Mendez also said, “This memorial depicts Clara Barton giving aide to a fallen soldier. The sculpture recognizes her groundbreaking moment of becoming the first nurse officially given permission to be on the battlefield ‘under fire.’ Her actions and her immediate response saved many lives.” Many soldiers were cared for, as they were treated in makeshift hospitals throughout Hagerstown and Washington County.

Once the project was presented to and approved by the Mayor and City Council in late 2021, the City of Hagerstown donated the site near the Park Circle Triangle at 319 Summit Avenue. The Clara Barton Memorial Fund was established through the Community Foundation of Washington County, and with former U. S. Senator and former long-time American Red Cross CEO Elizabeth Dole acting as honorary chairperson of the sculpture committee, the fundraising efforts were successful.

Including the City’s in-kind land donation and site preparations of $60,000, nearly $800,000 has been raised. $710,106 in cash contributions have been received as of March 31, with an additional $16,250 due from the State of Maryland’s Maryland Heritage Area grant. Significant local support helped stimulate national interest in the project, which is believed to be the first-ever memorial sculpture to honor Clara Barton. The Clara Barton Memorial Committee felt that the memorial is a well-deserved and long-overdue acknowledgement. “The Clara Barton Memorial celebrates nurses and first responders,” Toby Mendez said.