By David H Burton
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The war in all its grim reality was now part of her experience. No one not there could imagine the extent of the carnage and the depth of the grief. Instead of being revulsed, now that she could look back on the hellish picture, she could not be content with hospital work in Washington. She was more determined than ever to claim her place in frontline duty. The cause of the Union was best supported by undertaking the most difficult tasks, that few if any others could perform; for Clara Barton it was not to be the easy road.
At the age of sixteen he became consumptive. Aunt Clara was utterly determined that he must be made well. Accompanied by his mother and in hopes that the milder air would have a therapeutic effect, he had lived in Washington for a while when Clara was at the Patent Office. But he showed no noticeable improvement. His aunt then struck on a plan to have Sally take the boy to Minnesota where the dry, cold air was said to combat consumption. At no small expense to herself Clara traveled to Minnesota.
15 The employment of Barton and several other female copyists at the Patent Office was by no means the standard arrangement. The federal bureaucracy, however small in size, was still a man's world. Mason was one of the few superintendents who was willing to hire women, even sparingly. He had concluded that women usually made very good copyists and were much more industrious than most of the male patronage appointees. His chief, Robert McClelland, secretary of interior, was of a different mind. By bringing pressure on Mason to dismiss his female workers, Bartons position was at risk.