Size: 11” x 5½” x 9”
Weight: 5 lbs
1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas
"In my feeble estimation, General McClellan, with all his laurels, sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the age, the angel of the battlefield."
--Dr. James Dunn, Surgeon at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862
Barton and her crew arrived at Sharpsburg, Maryland, ahead of the Union ammunition, and were positioned right on the northern edge of the battlefield at dawn as the opening shots rang out for the Battle of Antietam—the bloodiest day in American military history.
After the cannon fire began on the morning of September 17th, Barton and her team began wading through eye-high corn at the northern edge of the battlefield to find the wounded who were falling back. They came upon a farmhouse whose owner, Joseph Poffenberger, had fled with his family as the army arrived and found two Army doctors who were using the house as an operating room. Although the doctors and their assistants were up to their elbows in blood, they had few bandages and almost no supplies and were reduced to using corn stalks to bind up men’s gaping wounds. Barton and her team quickly unloaded their bandages and supplies, and Barton began assisting in the surgeries.
While the retreat of Union forces into their midst led the male surgical assistants to flee, Barton remained, and ventured out frequently, under fire, to retrieve casualties. On one occasion, she recalled later in her speaking tours, she was reaching down to give a drink to a man lying wounded on the ground, when “a bullet sped its free and easy way between” them; it tore a hole in her sleeve and “found its way into his body.” As she explained:
“A ball has passed between my body and the right arm which supported him, cutting through his chest from shoulder to shoulder. There was no more to be done for him and I left him to his rest. I have never mended that hole in my sleeve. I wonder if a soldier ever does mend a bullet hole in his coat?"
In another instance, she used a pocketknife to surgically remove a bullet from a young soldier’s face. While helping a soft-faced soldier with chest wounds, Barton discovered that the soldier was a woman named Mary Galloway. Barton sympathetically aided the young woman, kept her secret, and later helped her locate her lover—who was to become her husband—in a Washington hospital. Barton later recalled that the couple named their daughter after her. As she later wrote:
“I always tried…to succor the wounded until medical aid and supplies could come up – I could run the risk; it made no difference to anyone if I were shot or taken prisoner.”
Barton’s efforts barely made a dent in the casualty figures for that day, which numbered 22,700, including 3,650 dead and 17,300 wounded. But the news of her exploits spread quickly and helped to shore up morale, especially among the Medical Corps, and earned her the nickname, “Angel of the Battlefield”.
After working for twenty-four hours straight at Antietam, Barton returned to Washington and collapsed with a likely case of typhoid fever. It took her over a month to regain her strength and return to the battle.
The monument was dedicated on September 9, 1962 and is located north of Sharpsburg on Mansfield Avenue.