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Rolls of missing soldiers accompanying the Memorial of Clara Barton, July 1865, no. 1

To support her appeal to Congress, Clara Barton attached this example of a roll of missing soldiers. Barton compiled such lists from names sent to her by soldiers’ families and friends. She distributed the rolls to military barracks, newspapers, and post offices nationwide, asking anyone with knowledge of the lost men to contact her.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Rolls of missing soldiers accompanying the Memorial of Clara Barton, July 1865, no. 1

Searching for the Missing

While providing medical assistance on Civil War battlefields, Clara Barton received many poignant pleas for information about missing soldiers. She requested permission of the government to conduct a search, and after President Abraham Lincoln appointed her to lead it, Barton sought congressional support for her mission. Senator Henry Wilson from Barton’s home state of Massachusetts was a major supporter of her effort. Between 1865 and 1868, through voluminous correspondence and published lists, Barton located 22,000 of approximately 62,000 dead or missing Union soldiers.