A pioneer all her life, Clara Barton began her greatest endeavor when she was nearly 40 years old. The soldiers recruited to fight in the Civil War did not have enough warm clothes or medical supplies to last through the four long years of battle. Barton joined with others to collect and distribute supplies to Union troops, and then did something no other woman had dared to do: She went directly onto the battlegrounds, bringing needed food, bandages, and medical supplies to the wounded and comfort to the dying. When the war was over she helped document the men who were missing in action so that their families could be notified. In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross, which she led for 22 years.