By Becky Brown
Indiana Puzzle can recall the political situation in that state where a surprising number of men and women expressed oposition to the War, hatred of Lincoln and a desire to join the Secessionist states.
What to do with female traitors? asked Harper's Weekly.
"Make them wear a very unfashionable uniform as for example the above."
A few weeks ago we read about Mary Kemper Vermilion, who thought magazine subscriptions too frivolous during wartime. She took her politics just as seriously.The Vermilions were long-time abolitionists and strong believers in the Union cause.
When William first went off to fight he left her with his parents in Indiana, where she stayed for six months, rather unhappy to be living in a rather dysfunctional family, as we might say. (Her father-in-law seems to have had psychotic episodes.) She also found the neighbors' political ideas very upsetting. In January, 1863 she wrote to William,
"Indiana, they say, is on the verge of revolution. Day before yesterday they had wild times at Indianapolis. The secesh tried to get possession of the arsenal, but were prevented by the Governor who called out the militia. ...The democrats...don't propose YET to join Jeff Davis's Confederacy, but to form a Southwestern confederacy of their own."
The Copperhead Party in a political cartoon
These Democrats opposed to the war favored an immediate truce with the Confederacy. Mary and her fellow Republicans called them Copperheads, poisonous snakes in the grass. But the Copperheads took the label for a compliment, finding that copper pennies of the day featured the head of Liberty. Many wore Liberty-head copper pennies as jewelry to show their loyalty to the Peace Democrat cause.
A Liberty-head penny with a hole drilled in it.
Jewelry for a Southern sympathizer?
Mary returned to her home in Iowa hoping to encounter, "No more copperheads," but found political opposition there too. She and her father went to a Union rally and heard a Republican threaten the copperheads, warning them
"they couldn't sport their...copperhead beast pins near here....I don't know how many came up to look at your likeness in my breastpin. They said that was the kind of pin to wear, a soldier's likeness."
A gold pin with a Union soldier's portrait,
possibly a mourning pin
Here was the war fought in terms of jewelry. Mary proudly wore a portrait of her husband in uniform and the "secesh" in the Indiana, Iowa and other Northern states wore breastpins, watch fobs and necklaces of copper jewelry.
Pennies were soldered to
pin backs, fobs and loops
We tend to look back at the war as North and South, puzzled at the shadings of political position. To remember the Indiana secessionists we can stitch an Indiana Puzzle, a block given that name by pattern designer Carlie Sexton in the 1920s. It's an old design that became popular in the 1880s. Make it up in copper-colored prints and it will be particuarly appropriate, representing the copper penny worn by some to flaunt their stand against the war.
Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A Using the template cut 2 dark blue and 2 medium blue shapes A.
See the templates on a PDF by clicking here:NEW LINK as of 9/1/2011
B Using the template cut 2 light copper-colored and 2 medium copper-colored quarter circles.
Indiana Puzzle is BlockBase #1450.
Read the Vermilion letters in Love Amid the Turmoil: The Civil War Letters of William and Mary Vermilion, Donald C. Elder III (editor), The University of Iowa Press, 2003. See more information by clicking here: