Act concerning females army nurses, 1861
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the Maine Legislature authorized the governor to accept the services of women as army nurses. (Only 7 years had passed since Florence Nightingale began nursing British soldiers during the Crimean War. She was the first woman ever to do so under government authority.) It should be noted that no professional training was available to any of these women. They relied on their past experience in caring for ill and injured family members and neighbors in order to look after the soldiers who were entrusted to them. Although the nurses were rarely present during battles, they were almost always on the scene within days, and often for weeks and months thereafter.