Miss Effie is based on the historical Euphemia Goldsborough who won fame among Baltimoreans for her pro-Confederacy activities -- nursing at Gettysburg, writing impassioned patriotic poems, and helping her father smuggle mail and supplies through Maryland. Here, however, her mind seldom strays from contemplating her numerous ""beaux."" With most of her admirers inconveniently dispersed by the war, she considers marrying the mature William Charles, until the man of her dreams turns out to be, not a poor oysterman, but the heir to the Dumont shipping fortune and, like everyone else, madly in love with her. In between suitors, Effie serves in hospitals, meets the notorious Belle Boyd, smuggles letters and gets herself banished from Union-controlled Baltimore. But, as even her mother recognizes, Effie ""lacks depth,"" and the war becomes little more than a romantic setting for the exercise of Effie's very active ego.