Ladies' Aid Album by Becky Brown
The block recalls the founding of the Sanitary Commission.
If you see a shadow of a red cross it's because the Sanitary Commission preceded the Red Cross as an organization to aid sick and wounded soldiers.
Headquarters of the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission
150 years ago this week the Union government recognized the United States Sanitary Commission, authorizing the civilian group to take responsibility for soldiers' hospitals and medical care. It surprises us today to realize that governments took little responsibility for war wounded. In Europe's Crimean War of the 1850s Florence Nightingale established a civilian mission that saved many lives. Inspired by Nightingale's work, the first Sanitary Commission grew from the work of New York's Woman's Central Association of Relief.
Women were officers as well as nurses in the Sanitary Commission.
Here a group visits a battlefield.
Cities all over the Union soon volunteered to organize local Sanitary Commissions. One of their major duties was collecting blankets, medical supplies, food and clothing for hospitalized soldiers. Another was sewing those blankets, supplies and clothing in numerous Ladies' Aid Societies.
The Washington D.C. headquarters
In 1863 Mrs. R. H. Hook wrote a flowery letter about the work of the Sanitary Commission, using a patchwork quilt as a metaphor to discuss the sacrifices of Union women.
"They have given their husbands, their sons, their lovers and brothers.... This passion, not content with giving up the bread-winners, the pride and joy and stay of their homes, has led the women of the land to take the snowy quilts and blankets from their beds, the curtains from their windows, the hoarded linen from their presses, and send it in avalanches of comfort to our storehouses of relief.
The women have considered themselves as at a great national quilting-party; the States so many patches, each of its own color or stuff, the boundaries of the nation the frame of the work; and at it they have gone, with needles and busy fingers, and their very heart-strings for thread, and sewed and sewed away, adding square to square, and row to row; allowing no piece or part to escape their plan of Union; until the territorial area of the loyal States is all of apiece, first tacked and basted, then sewed and stitched by women's hands, wet often with women's tears, and woven in with women's prayers; and now at length you might truly say the National Quilt—all striped and starred—will tear anywhere sooner than in the seams, which they have joined in a blessed and inseparable unity!"
The Christian Commission did similar work,
gathering supplies in boxes and barrels
to be shipped to battlefield hospitals.
Those barrels held many patchwork quilts.
The Ladies Aid Album block (BlockBase #1719) was published in the Kansas City Star in 1938. Here the design is redrawn to better fit an 8" block.
Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A Cut 4 light squares 3".
B Cut 4 light rectangles 1-1/2" x 3-1/2".
C Cut 1 medium square 4-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.
You need 4 medium triangles.
D Cut 4 red squares 2-3/8". Cut into 2 triangles with 1 cut.
You need 8 red triangles.E Cut 1 medium square 3-1/2"
Above is a report from the Northern Ohio Sanitary Commission on items received and then donated to hospitals. In Northern Ohio alone during the first year of the war the women took in nearly 6800 "comfortables and blankets." Very few of those bedcoverings returned from the war.
Read a preview of Judith Ann Giesberg's Civil War Sisterhood: The U.S. Sanitary Commission & Women's Politics in Transition (Northeastern University Press, 2000) at Google Books by clicking here: