Sarah Sampson, Bath, ca. 1860
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Sarah Sampson was one of several hundred women from Maine who volunteered to care for wounded and sick soldiers during the Civil War. There was no professional training at this time. She had to rely on her past experience in caring for ill and injured family members and neighbors in order to look after the soldiers. Although the nurses were rarely present during battles, they were almost always on the scene within days, and often for weeks and months after the battle, caring for the injured and dying Maine men who were still in makeshift field hospitals located around the area. Sarah Sampson narrowly missed being killed when Confederate batteries along the James River opened fire at a troop transport ship on which she was caring for wounded men. After the war, Sampson turned her attention to the orphans of Maine men who had been killed, and she persuaded the Legislature to establish the Maine Military and Naval Children's Home in Bath, where she served as the first director.