For quite some time, women in the 1800's were less than equal when it came to the sexes, living extremely restricted lives. They were not given opinion, voice, equality, or freedom to live the life they desired. However, this significantly began to change when war broke out. Women had many reasons for stepping forward from the shadows of sexism during the Civil War.
Previously, the usual task for a colonial woman during a battle, was to wait at home worried for their husbands to return. When the Civil War happened, the women would no longer stand to watch their husbands leave for war and "refused to release their hold upon the men of their households although the government had taken them out of the home and organized them into an army." (Myers 156) Many women did not want to see happen, which happened so many times before, in which the men would go off to fight and men would then care for the wounded. Thousands of women enlisted in the war, many as volunteer nurses, taking a leading role in the Sanitary Commission. For some women, this was one small way that they could help their men and fight for equality. Dorothea Dix was the first woman to receive a major federal appointment and she "used her influence to combat the prejudice against women treating men, opening a new occupation for women." (Henretta 409).
Many men felt threatened by the idea of women taking over war efforts. Pressure from men gave women even more reason to continue their struggles to serve. Clara Barton was a nurse in the army and even as chaotic as the battle and horror was, some men still had the aunesity to make comments such as, "Miss Barton, this is a rough and unseemly position for you, a woman, to occupy."(Myers 159) Even though it seemed Clara's efforts were small to the men, her being there in a man's occupation opened a gateway and example for women to follow. Although the role of a woman in the Civil War was going to be difficult because of sexist opposition, women stood up and were ready to fight more than a Civil War, but a fight for new occupation as well.