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Bethel Zouaves militia company, Bethel, ca. 1862

Bethel Zouaves militia company, Bethel, ca. 1862

Item 101078 info
Bethel Historical Society

By Cullen Boone

During the Civil War, Bethel citizens — particularly women — supported soldiers in many different ways.

Staying connected to the war, sending goods, and promoting and preserving Republican views contributed to war efforts in Bethel.

Local women showed that they were capable members of society through their support for Union soldiers during the Civil War.


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Lincoln/Hamlin Campaign Flag, 1860

Lincoln/Hamlin Campaign Flag, 1860

Item 28783 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Hannibal Hamlin, President Lincoln's vice president, came from Oxford County, which further popularized Republican beliefs in Bethel.

The Lincoln/Hamlin GOP stood for no further extension of slavery and won Bethel's endorsement in 1860.

Throughout the Civil War, Bethel favored Republican candidates by comfortable margins.

Supporting Republican views was Bethel's way of helping to keep in office a president who firmly believed preservation of the Union was the main reason for the war.


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Sanitary Commission festival poster, Wiscasset, 1863

Sanitary Commission festival poster, Wiscasset, 1863

Item 84559 info
Maine Historical Society

Bethel women sent goods to the soldiers. The most influential local support group was the Ladies Union Aid Society, founded in 1861.

Even before the Aid Society was formed, Bethel citizens had sent the U.S. Sanitary Commission $185 in contributions, plus 29 barrels of vegetables and two of dried apples.

The Union Aid Society was formed with contributions totaling $413. The society sent soldiers items such as bed sacks, pillows, pillow cases, vests, cravats, socks, shirts, handkerchiefs, slippers, towels, linen, lint, bandages, bags, dried apples, blueberries, compresses, and beef tallow.


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Pattee's Hall, Bethel, ca. 1895

Pattee's Hall, Bethel, ca. 1895

Item 100546 info
Bethel Historical Society

The Ladies Union Aid Society met at Pattee's Hall in Bethel Hill village.

These women produced large volumes of supplies and not an insignificant amount of money to support the Union cause.

In addition to this, women from Bethel hand-sewed a silk flag and presented it to the 5th Maine Regiment and to its leader, Clark S. Edwards.


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Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1850

Hannibal Hamlin, ca. 1850

Item 28787 info
Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum

Newspapers that covered Bethel during the Civil War were important because they helped citizens stay involved and knowledgeable about what was happening so far away.

One local historian stated, "Much of what we know about the effect of the war upon Bethel is found in the period newspapers of the era. Reports of wounds and death were often described in detail as they happened and could not have helped but have had an effect upon those on the home front, especially when the numbers who attended funerals for dead soldiers are considered."

In addition to informing civilians what was going on in the war zone, newspapers also promoted morale by urging families to write to their soldiers.

Bethel's first newspaper, The Bethel Courier, was published from 1858 to 1861.

The Oxford Democrat, published at nearby Paris Hill, took over local news reporting after the Courier ceased to appear.


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Grand Trunk Railway station, Bethel, ca. 1880

Grand Trunk Railway station, Bethel, ca. 1880

Item 100625 info
Bethel Historical Society

Importantly, Bethel had a railroad station equipped with a telegraph that connected the town to other parts of the United States.

Staying informed during the war helped supporters of Union soldiers know when soldiers were in need, and what specific goods they were in need of.

Bethel's supporters had a huge impact on Union soldiers, both morally and physically, sending many goods along with their moral support.

Although many women struggled without their husbands or sons to keep the farm going, support for the Northern cause strengthened those at home as well as on the battlefield.


This slideshow contains 6 items