March 14, 2017
The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that its next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 7:00pm at the College of Southern Maryland’s Center for Business and Industry, Chaney Enterprises Conference Center, Room BI-113, at 8730 Mitchell Road in La Plata, MD.
Guest Speaker: Bonnie Mangan
Join us tonight as Ms. Bonnie Mangan educates us about Clara Barton’s Efforts to Identify Civil War Missing Soldiers!
Clara Barton is often identified as a Civil War nurse and the founder of the American Red Cross. But between the end of the Civil War and her introduction the Red Cross while traveling in Switzerland, she sought to find out what happened to the thousands of unknown Union dead.
Barton considered the naming of the dead an obligation of the nation that sent so many to an unaccounted death far from home. Just as she saw a need to have medical care and supplies at hand on the field during the battle, she recognized that “an accounting of the dead is an accounting to the bereaved,” as Drew Gilpin Faust explains in This Republic of Suffering. Barton understood both of these needs before the government did.
Barton began her work just prior to the Quartermaster Office’s Reburial Program.
In April 1866 Congress passed a Joint Resolution that authorized and required the Secretary of War “to take immediate measures to preserve from desecration the graves of soldiers of the United States who fell in battle or died of disease in hospitals; to secure suitable burial places in which they may be properly interred; and to have the graves enclosed so that the resting places of the honored dead may be kept sacred forever.” Barton sought to name the individual dead, something finally done with the National Cemetery Act of 1872.
Using Barton’s writings, this talk will concentrate on the work of the Missing Soldiers Office. During this period, Barton went on the lecture circuit speaking about her wartime experiences to fund the Missing Soldiers Office. Barton also testified before the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction reporting on conditions in Georgia, which she viewed first hand when she accompanied the expedition to set up the Andersonville National Cemetery.
Though Barton’s work on behalf of the missing was undertaken independently of the government’s (as Clara often preferred) they were part of the overall national program to honor those who gave the last full measure. And Barton certainly should be considered a pioneer in this endeavor.
Bonnie Mangan grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois. She earned Masters degrees in Middle East Studies and Library Science. After working aboard she was hired by the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. She recently retired after 36 years of faithful federal service.
Bonnie became interested in mid 19th century history reading about the Alcotts and the Transcendentalists. After hearing Eileen Conklin speak on Women at Gettysburg, 1863, she signed up to attend the first Conference on Women and the Civil War, the precursor to the Society for Women and the Civil War (SWCW). To learn about the Civil War she followed the Vermont Brigade. Bonnie credits her late friend, Dorie Silber of Walden, VT, and Wilbur Fisk (2nd VT) with nurturing this interest.
Since 2011 Bonnie has been a National Park Service volunteer at Arlington House where she is considered the resident Yankee. She is a docent at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office. She also serves on the board of SWCW.
Bonnie lives in Arlington, VA with her cats Fuller (named for Margaret Fuller) and Alcott (named for all the Alcotts)