Welcome to the Falmouth Library's page designed to shed light on the role women played in the American Civil War. As we approach the Sesquicentennial of the War, we will be sharing resources and information about this topic, focusing specifically on the role Maine women played during the war.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nellie Forbes of Norridgewock, Maine, began her service by nursing soldiers wounded in the first battle of Bull Run and continued until February 1863 when her own life was in danger from the malaria she contracted. She had been in Washington at the beginning of the war visiting her uncle, Sidney Perham, a congressman from Maine (and later governor). During her years of nursing, she received much praise and many letters from her former patients. One wrote, "Since I left Washington one year ago I have often thought of the many kindnesses I rec'd from you while I lay there wounded and almost helpless. The many little deeds of kindness which helped while away the long hours, that I rec'd from you shall never be forgot so long as my reason remains. Though I may never see you again I shall ever remember you. May God grant you a long and happy life."
Nellie became very good friends with one patient, Mr. Eleazer Tolman of Milo, Maine who served with the 2nd Maine Regiment. They were married in 1864 and moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts where she continued to care for soldiers and help them get the pensions they deserved. She herself got a pension of $25 a month by a special act of Congress in 1886 with the help of her Uncle Perham, Hannibal Hamlin, Brigadier General George Beal and others.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Maine Camp Hospital Association of Portland, Maine

The Maine Camp Hospital Association was one of the best organized soldiers’ aid societies in the North. Based in Portland, Maine, it was so well organized that it was able to send agents into the field to make sure their supplies reached the Maine soldiers they were intended for. Their origins were with the women of the Free Street Baptist Church (pictured on right) in Portland. Their reputation was such that other, smaller soldiers’ aid societies would send their collected supplies and contributions to them to distribute. Their first two agents, Mrs. Isabella Fogg and Mrs. Harriet Eaton, arrived in the arena of the war in October, 1862 and immediately began searching out Maine soldiers injured at the battle of Antietam which took place September 17, 1862. The men were always glad to see them and receive the gifts and supplies sent from home. The two labored in the field, surviving illness and enemy bombardments until after the battle of Chancellorsville in early May, 1863. Mrs. Eaton went home to Maine; Mrs. Fogg became an agent for the Christian Commission. The Maine Camp Hospital Association sent other agents. At the end of the war, when Petersburg, Virginia, was under siege by Grant’s forces, the agents were Ruth Mayhew (photo on left), Mary Dupee and Rebecca Usher.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mary Kneeland - A Spy in the enemy's Midst

Mary Austin was a both a nurse and spy during the Civil War. Born in Byron, Maine, she married Dr. John Kneeland of New Hampshire in 1854. The couple moved to eastern Tennessee, hoping the warmer climate would be good for his health. Unfortunately, he died the following year, anyway. Mary remained in Tennessee, and soon found herself in a contested area - occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. She took it upon herself to inform Union forces of the movements and plans of the Confederates when she could, riding miles through enemy held territory. She also cared for and hid Union soldiers separated from their units or escaped from the Confederates, from time to time. At one point Confederate General Vaughan came to arrest her, but she entertained him with some fine blackberry wine. He said, "Madam, I came here to have you arrested but you have been so kind I shall not do it."