Two women sewing, about 1860
Photo from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection:
Hundreds of calls for quilts and bedding went out during the Civil War.
This article from an Ohio newspaper in the first year of the war is quite specific:
"Sheets and quilt are wanted...7 feet long, 4-1/2 feet wide, and may be made of odd calico or delaine, with cotton firmly quilted in, so that it will not lose its place in being washed.... It must be remembered that hospital cots are very narrow, and second hand bedding, if sent to us should be cut over into proper size. Two half worn quilts of ordinary size can be altered into three hospital quilts.."
I still recall my growing horror during an AQSG paper by Ginny Gunn years ago in which she explained how many quilts were consumed during the Civil War---destroyed accidentally in battle, mud and laundry or deliberately burned after a soldier's death. It's nothing compared to the lives that were lost, but it is still a loss.
Looking at the newspaper request suggesting that one could cut two half-worn quilts into three hospital quilts I started imagining....
Let's say I'm an Ohioan with two "half-worn" quilts inherited from
my late mother-in-law.
I was never that fond of her and I am indeed less fond of these medallion quilts, which are so out-of fashion. But dear Hubby insists we display them in the extra room. I'll appeal to his patriotism by showing him the newspaper.
A little binding and I have three bedcovers for the Soldiers' Aid Society plus I can put a new red and green applique on the bed.
It's a win/win situation for everybody except the future quilt historian.
Read Virginia Gunn's ground-breaking paper "Quilts for Union Soldiers in the Civil War " in Uncoverings 6 at the Quilt Index: