Excerpts from Parker McCobb Reed’s History of Bath and Environs, Sagadahoc County, Maine (1894), Henry Wilson Owen’s History of Bath, Maine (1936) and Bath Historical Newsletter #8 September 1990.

In 1861 began the war for the suppression of the rebellion, so that the undivided government might live, now referred to as the Civil War. Bath’s Captain of Company D, C.A.L. Samson left with his regiment for Washington D.C. assigned to the Army of the Potomac. His wife Sarah Samson, of Green Street in Bath, accompanied him as she had the unprecedented benevolence to devote herself to the welfare of the sick without any assurance of recompense. In Mrs. Samson’s words “I proceeded to Washington feeling sure I was in the path of duty; and that Providence would guide me… early on the President of the Maine Soldiers’ Relief Association secured my services to seek out Maine soldiers at each hospital in the Washington area. Those recent Maine arrivals were in a most deplorable condition, being helplessly sick, and in want of everything. I gave them the clothing that had been sent by the Ladies Aid Society of Bath. This society sent to my care more than one hundred cases of supplies, all of which reached me in good condition; they also sent sums of money at different times…”

Sarah’s job description directed her to ascertain the needs of Maine’s soldiers and communicate those needs to their families at home, or to the proper departments at Washington. Mrs. Samson visited every hospital to minister to those in a helpless condition. She caused medical examinations to be made of all applicants for furloughs or discharges, and if granted obtained their pay, allowance and transportation tickets. She also attended personally, to provide all invalids returning home, suitable clothing and sufficient food to last during their journey.

During the war soldiers of the several military companies when enlisting for service were tendered pledges that their families should be taken care of. After the war, when the Samson’s returned to Bath, Mrs. Samson realized these pledges were not to be forgotten, and took the lead in establishing the “Soldiers’ Orphans Home Association.” This was created for the purpose of rearing and educating gratuitously, the orphans and half orphans of those who entered service from Maine and died in said service. This lady took the orphans, then numbering fifteen, to Augusta and introduced them to the members of both houses. An act appropriating $15,000 to the Home was passed. Sarah Samson was the moving force behind establishing the Bath Military and Naval Orphan Asylum, which continued operating until 1996, under a different name. She who served so unselfishly was known as the “Florence Nightingale of Maine” and is now part of Bath’s great history.

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