When the first shots were fired at Union-held Fort Sumter in April of 1861, patriotic fervor was aroused to great heights throughout the North. The Union must be preserved! Men enlisted in droves, but what about the women? They could not sit at home and carry on as before. They started by sewing flags, sewing uniforms, and taking over the jobs the men left behind. They ran shops, businesses, farms, post offices, and even operated fire fighting equipment when needed.
They worked in the mills making tent fabric and cloth for uniforms. They made cartridges for the rifles and much more. They supported the war effort by organizing Soldiers' Aid societes and making hospital clothing, gathering and shipping supplies, and raising money to aid the soldiers. Some did much more -- leaving home and family to serve as nurses for the sick and wounded soldiers. Hundreds of women from Maine and thousands throughout the North stepped far outside the traditional roles of Victorican women to do their duty to their country.