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Maine and the Civil War

When war broke out, Maine responded immediately to the call for soldiers, raising fourteen regiments of infantry and one of cavalry in 1861. As the war dragged on, however, fewer volunteers came forward and both Union and Confederate governments established compulsory drafts. In Maine, there were scattered draft protests, but in most towns, men came forward as volunteers to fill local draft quotas.

The war and its exodus of fighting-age men affected nearly every aspect of life in Maine. Some women found themselves responsible for businesses and farms; others joined the ranks of millworkers, as textile mills replaced absent male workers with immigrants, women, and children. An enlisted man’s pay could not support a family, so towns’ poor rolls grew and were increased even more by war widows and orphans. Ladies’ Aid Societies met to knit socks, make bandages, sew shirts, and stitch quilts for wounded soldiers. Women organized fundraisers to supply foodstuffs and other basic necessities for the troops. These meetings were social events as well, offering opportunities to share news, joys, and condolences.

Photo at left: Sergeant Levi Hooper Daggett of New Sharon and his wife, Mary Caroline Delano Daggett, sat together for this portrait in 1861 or 1862. Daggett eventually rose to the rank of captain in the 1st Maine Cavalry.

Maine State Museum