Saturday, March 26, 2011

13 Little Blue Basket

Little Blue Basket

The name has two meanings. The pattern is literally a little blue basket and it also can recall the Little Blue, a river in western Missouri. The Little Blue formed valleys and caves along the Kansas/Missouri border, a landscape that provided hiding places and refuge for Confederate guerillas during the Civil War.

The word river for the Little Blue seems a little uppity.
It might better be called a creek.

In the spring of 1861, 22-year-old John McCorkle from Savannah, Missouri, joined the Confederate Army in Missouri. The regulars soon retreated to Arkansas and points south as the Union Army quickly took control of the state.

Missouri remained a Union state despite a good deal of secessionist sympathy in rural areas. When Southern troops retreated, McCorkle deserted rather than travel south with the regular Confederate Army. His intention to live peacefully at home was interrupted, he wrote, when the Federals attempted to impress him into the State Militia by threatening his cousin Millie with imprisonment if he refused to join. Women were not often jailed, but conditions in Missouri quickly deteriorated to the point where revenge, recrimination and murder of civilians, both men and women, became too common.

McCorkle attended this 1914 reunion of the Bushwhackers.
Their bloodiest guerilla attack was led by
William Quantrell (in the framed portrait) whom they revered.

The guerrillas along the border between free-state Kansas and slave-state Missouri were known as Bushwhackers. McCorkle and his family and friends survived in the bush through aid from their sisters, mothers and sweethearts who carried baskets full of food to their camps, washed their laundry and sewed their clothing. The Little Blue Basket recalls the women who set out after dusk in the evenings, carrying baskets of food into the woods near the Little Blue River.

Lizzie Wallace was photographed
with the men at the 1920 reunion

The basket pattern was popular at the time of the Civil War. This one was published as Pieced Baskets in Marie Webster's 1915 book Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them. It's #664 in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and the digital version BlockBase. The basket in Webster's book had a curved, appliqued handle.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 1 light square 7-1/4". Cut in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles. You need 1 light triangle A.

B. Cut 2 light rectangles 2-1/8" x 5-1/4".
C- Cut 1 light square 4". Cut in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles. You need 1 light triangle C.
D- Cut 5 medium blue squares and 4 dark squares 2-1/2". Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles. You need 10 medium blue triangles and 8 dark triangles D.

Little Blue Basket by Karla Menaugh, 2003

Karla added a bias strip handle and a lot of sawtooth triangles to the edge of this quilt patterned in our 2003 book Butternut and Blue. Click here for more information about the book:

And Becky did a version with an appliqued handle.

Through his memoirs, John McCorkle did something towards shaping our view of the Civil War in western Missouri. Three Years With Quantrell is still in print.

His war story was inspiration for the fictional Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell, which in turn inspired the 1999 Ang Lee film Ride With the Devil.

The boys out in a hut built into the banks
of the Little Blue in Ride With the Devil.

Read Woodrell's novel and see the film Ride with the Devil, starring Tobey McGuire as the fictional Jake. Jewel's character represents the women with the baskets along the Little Blue. (Disclosure: I worked as a researcher on that movie but I had nothing to do with that pink and blue baby blanket in the last part of the movie.)
Watch the Criterion edition, a new cut. Read more here:

Read McCorkle's side of the Civil War in his 1914 book on line by clicking here:
Three Years with Quantrell: A True Story Told by His Scout John McCorkle, by O.S. Barton, 1914.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

12 Louisiana

Louisiana by Becky Brown
Louisiana can represent the Morgan family and all the Southern soldiers.

During the spring of 1861 the new Confederacy established an army, organizing local militia, seizing federal weapons at Southern armories and issuing a call for troops. The first call established a 12-month term of service. Surely the War would be over by the spring of 1862.

Unknown Confederate soldier.
All the portraits on this page are of unknown sitters
 from the Library of Congress

Diarist Sarah Morgan, who speaks for many Confederate women, changed from a careless girl to a heart-broken woman during the War. The contrast is evident in the evolution of her writing about her brothers. Her first enthusiastic accounts of George, Gibbes and Jimmy joining the Confederate troops reflected dreams of  battlefield glory.

July 11th, 1862.
"A letter from George this morning! It was written on the 20th of June, and he speaks of being on crutches in consequence of his horse having fallen with him, and injured his knee. Perhaps, then, he was not in the first battle of the 25th? But bah! I know George too well to imagine he would keep quiet at such a moment, if he could possibly stand! I am sure he was there with the rest of the Louisiana regiment. The papers say 'the conduct of the First Louisiana is beyond all praise'; of course, George was there!"
Sarah's hopes for her brothers' heroics soon became anxiety for their safety and vain prayers for their survival. In the last months of the War both Gibbes and George died within a week.

On the 30th of January [1865] came [Gibbes's] last letter, addressed to me, though meant for [his wife]. It was dated the 12th — the day George died. All his letters pleaded that I would write more frequently — he loved to hear from me; so I had been writing to him every ten days. On the 3d of February I sent my last.
Friday the 5th… I saw [our eldest] Brother pass the door, and heard him ask for mother. The voice, the bowed head, the look of utter despair on his face, struck through me like a knife. 'Gibbes! Gibbes!' was my sole thought; but Miriam and I stood motionless looking at each other without a word. 'Gibbes is dead,' said mother as he stood before her. He did not speak…"

Sarah's diary speaks so eloquently of the family loss, but she, her sisters, sisters-in-law and mother were just a very few of the hundreds of thousands of women who lost soldiers during the Civil War.
Two percent of the population of the
United States died during the 4-year War.

The block Louisiana was first published in Hearth and Home magazine about a century ago when the magazine asked readers to mail in blocks named for their home states. The BlockBase # is 1335.

Cutting the 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 4 dark rectangles 4-1/2" x 2-1/2"
B- Cut 4 medium squares 2 -7/8" Cut each diagonally with one cut.

 You need 8 triangles.
C - Cut 1 light square 5-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 cuts. You need 4 triangles.

The photographs of the Confederate soldiers are from Civil War Faces, a webpage from Flickr and the Library of Congress. The Liljenquist Family recently donated their rare collection of almost 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs to the Library of Congress in remembrance of the Union and Confederate soldiers who served. Click here to see more portraits.

And see the post about block #3 Seven Sisters for information about Sarah Morgan and her Louisiana diary.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

11 London Square

London Square

London Square recalls Great Britain's role in the American Civil War. England was our greatest trading partner and cotton was the currency. Many in England supported the emerging Confederacy with its crop that was so vital to the English economy.


Fanny Kemble
painted by Thomas Sully

Among the English who were horrified by the thought of a new independent slave-based nation was actress Fanny Kemble. Through her writing she changed attitudes and the course of the American Civil War.

Fanny about the time of the Civil War

Frances Anne Kemble was born into a prominent theatrical family in London and became an American celebrity during a tour in the 1830s. Beautiful, bright and spirited, she fell in love with Pierce Butler, a member of a powerful and wealthy Southern family, temporarily living in Philadelphia.
The Butler rice plantations were in the Georgia delta
of the Altamaha River on St. Simon's Island and nearby islands.
 See the darker yellow square for Butler's Island south of Darien.

After their marriage, she accompanied him home to his Georgia rice plantations where she discovered the enormous Butler fortune was based on slavery, a system she could not accept. While there, she kept a detailed journal in the form of letters, recording slavery's horrible human toll.

"The Nursery" on Hilton Head Island in 1862 or 63.
Library of Congress
Fanny's accounts include much about motherhood in slavery.

The Butler's marriage suffered from Fanny's attitudes about slavery and a woman's place, as well as from Pierce's neglect and bullying. In 1849 they obtained a very public divorce in which Fanny lost custody of her daughters and gained a national reputation as a scandalous woman.

Pierce Butler at the time of the divorce, 1849

When the Civil War broke out she was back in England, distressed to find British politicians favoring the South. The Confederacy hoped to win British recognition, a diplomatic gesture that would go a long way to establishing its legitimacy as a nation rather than as a mere rebellious region.

Fanny realized she could use both her fame as an actress and her skill as a writer to convince the English that the Southern cause was wrong. 

"I have sometimes been haunted with the idea that it was an imperative duty, knowing what I know, and having seen what I have seen, to do all that lies in my power to show the dangers and the evils of this frightful institution." 
She published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in London in 1863. The shocking book changed public opinion, influencing England to remain neutral during the War.

London Square by Becky Brown

London Square is a variation of the popular late-19th-century design also called Ocean Waves. (See #3163 in BlockBase.) The name was published by the Famous Features syndicate in the mid 20th century. We can use it to recall Fanny Kemble's courageous and clever move to shape public opinion.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut a dark square and a medium square 6-7/8". Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut. You need one dark and one medium triangle.

B - Cut 4 light, 2 dark and 2 medium squares 2-7/8". Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut. You need 7 light, 4 dark and 3 medium triangles.

While you sew you can watch a dramatization of Fanny Kemble's marriage. Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble was released in 2000 starring Jane Seymour as Fanny and Keith Carradine as one of the top ten bad husbands ever. Click here to read more:

Read  Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in London at Google Books.
Click here:

But beware: Fanny did not pull any punches in describing the horrors of slavery in these letters. It is not a pleasant read.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

10 Lincoln's Platform

Lincoln's Platform by Becky Brown.
She used the central square to fussy cut a flower
 to remember Mary Lincoln's floral silk dresses.

Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1861. Lincoln's Platform can mark the anniversary week.

Lincoln in 1861

The quilt pattern dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. We don't know what quilters called it then but magazines and pattern companies gave it many names at the end of the 19th century and into the twentieth. Among them: Shoo-Fly, Monkey Wrench and Hole In the Barn Door. In her 1935 book Carrie Hall called the nine patch Lincoln's Platform.

Several photos of the inauguration on the steps of the Capitol building were taken.
The new dome was not yet finished and
the building remained a construction project for several years.

Nineteen-year-old Charles Bowditch,  suspended from Harvard for taking part in a student protest, had time to go to Washington to watch Lincoln's inauguration. He documented his trip in letters to his mother back in Boston. The day before, he called at the office of his Senator Charles Sumner for tickets.
"He was very profuse in apologies and told me that he had made inquiries & found that no tickets were to be issued since they would have to issue 10,000 if any at all. He said my best plan would be to take my chance with the crowd."
On the morning of the 4th Charles went by Willard's Hotel. Due to his family's political connections he was invited:
 "to the Presidents rooms & found a good many people there consisting however, I believe of his & his wife's relations…Mrs. Lincoln is a very pleasant looking woman & is by no means coarse looking as has been said. She was dressed in a brown silk with a black velvet cloak & a green plush bonnet."

Of course Charles's mother (and we) would want
 to know what the First Lady was wearing.
Here she is in evening dress in 1861,
wearing a silk with roses on a ground of pin dots.

Bowditch was swept up with the Lincoln/Todd party and observed the ceremony with the family. 
Charles is somewhere in the crowd here,
close to the wooden canopy at the center. 

 "About 1 o'clock we went out to the front of the Capitol the steps of which had been floored over & took our seat. We then saw Messrs. Lincoln & Buchanan come down the steps & the Judges of the Supreme Court. Lincoln then delivered his inaugural amid much cheering & shouting & afterwards took his oath of office….Uncle Thomas calls the Inaugural [speech] wishy-washy. I have not read it & was not near enough to hear what he said.

Thus you see the Inauguration has gone through very successfully & safely & Mr. Lincoln has not been made the victim of any hostile inventions or infernal machines [bombs]…Mr. Lincoln has rec'd a great many threatening letters which of course made the family feel very uncomfortably."
Cutting for an 8" Finished Block for Lincoln's Platform (#1646 in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns & BlockBase)

A - Cut 2 light and 2 dark squares 3-1/2". Cut each in half diagonally with one cut.

You need 4 dark and 4 light triangles

B - Cut 4 dark and 4 light rectangles 3-1/8" x 1-7/8".
C - Cut 1 light square 3-1/8"

Charles Pickering Bowditch's account of the Inauguration was published as "'We had a very fine day': Charles Bowditch Attends Lincoln's Inauguration" by Katherine W. Richardson in the Essex Institute Historical Collections, Volume 124, Number 1, January 1988, pages 28-35.

If you are worried about Charles being suspended from Harvard, don't fret. He went back to school and had an admirable career as an anthropologist. Read his lengthy obituary here.

Another of Mary Lincoln's silk dresses from 1861.
This one is in the collection of the Smithsonian.