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.