Now Clara was about to start her career. She enrolled at the Clinton Liberal Institute for females in 1850 and got her teaching certificate. Clara had many influencial people in her life, but the most important were her family members; especially her parents. She had a special faith in them. During the year of 1852, she established a free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey. For a vacation, Clara traveled to Europe in 1869. She returned in October in the year 1873. Clara grew from a little child to a lively, charming young lady.
As she grew older, she wondered what to do. She found her occupation by working as a clerk in the Patent Office in Washington, D.C. She was one of the first women to work there. A few years later, the Civil War began, urging her to start working for the wounded after they were imported from the battlefields. Many died on their way to the hospitals that could be as far away as many miles. She thought of a way to prevent this, and had the idea of nursing the wounded on the battefields! She had a very hard time getting permission to travel on the battlefields. The authorities felt that the battefield was not a place for a woman. Finally, in 1862, Clara received permission from a man named Officer Rucker. With her pass, she nursed the wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December. Then, to her great sadness, her father fell ill. She went to her father's home and stayed by his side for a long time. He was dying. The old captain told her that if she felt that she should take this risk, then she should do it. He told her to do what she thought was right. This gave her new courage, and after her father died, and after her grief, she went to the Battle of Antietam. She went on to become the superintendent of nurses for the Army of the James in 1864-1865. Also in 1865, Clara established an office to locate missing soldiers in action becauseshe had gotten so many letters from worried and anxious families.She had to help.