Saturday, November 9, 2019

Catherine Fitzsimons Hammond's Civil War #2: During the War

Catherine, the Hammond album quilt and the panel wreath
repeated in the quilt blocks. 
Finding out more about this panel quilt is how this search got started.

The house at Redcliffe plantation, mid-20th-century
In Catherine's day there were more piazzas and porches.

When the Civil War began in April, 1861 Catherine Hammond was in her late forties living on the banks of the Savannah River in South Carolina in a substantial new house. After the scandal that compromised husband James H. Hammond's political career in the 1850s, the family bought another plantation called Redcliffe near her inheritance Silver Bluff. (See more about Hammond's "indiscretion" in last week's post:
The house at Redcliffe has been restored.
The nearest town of any size was Augusta, Georgia, about 12 miles away.

Husband James Henry Hammond had made a name for himself with his pro-Southern oratory before he quit the U.S. Senate when Lincoln was elected, asserting in 1858 that the South's economy made the region immune to threats to end slavery. 
"You dare not make war upon cotton! No power on earth dares make war upon it.   Cotton is king." 
Southern states head off a cliff  yelling "Cotton is King."
Cartoon from the Library of Congress

Hammond was wrong about many things but after a 5-year separation in the early 1850s Catherine stuck with him for the rest of his life. When the war began they had three sons in their twenties, James Henry II (called Harry), Paul, and Edward (called by his middle name Spann). Three daughters in their teens and early twenties lived at home.

1860 Census
Did infant Claude, born when Catherine was in her mid 40s, die so young he's almost forgotten now?

The 1860 slave schedules list 50 people living at Redcliffe but hundreds more worked at their larger plantations.

Harry was quartermaster in Gregg's Brigade throughout the war.

James Hammond was not only a "tough son-of-a-bitch" as biographer Carol Bleser called him, he was a classic egomaniac, viewing war's demands as inconveniences to his plantation management and insisting his sons stay home rather than join the Confederate armies. Eldest son Harry defied him by quitting his position as a geology professor at the University of Georgia to join the South Carolina Infantry. Paul joined Edwin Kirby Smith's troops where he was an aide to the General and Spann enlisted for a six-months commitment.

Catherine's fears for her sons's safety were small compared to other Confederate mothers. Hammond biographer Drew Gilpin Faust characterizes the boys' "commitment to the Confederate military endeavor [as] somewhat less than total."

Once a draft was enacted substitutes were available North and South

Paul Fitzsimons Hammond (1838-1887)

After six months Spann's wife's family bought him a substitute and he farmed his own plantations for the rest of the war. Paul likewise served a short term until his father paid a substitute $1,100 to replace him.

Northern view of Southern conscription

Paul D. Escott estimates that Southern elites hired 50,000 to 150,000 men to serve as alternates (an expense only the elite could afford.) He quotes the Richmond Enquirer as noting the ability to pay a substitute was proof of a man's "social and industrial value." The aristocrats' lives "were more important than the lives of the poor."

Major Harry Hammond (1832-1916)

Despite an old injury that left one leg shorter than the other, Hammond served throughout the war as a quartermaster, supervising supplies. He lived to surrender at Appomattox Court House with the Army of Northern Virginia.

Virginia Clay Clopton (1825-1915)
published her rosy memoir A Belle of the Fifties in 1904.

Virginia Clay Clopton, cousin to Mary Louisa (Loula) Comer who married Catherine's son Paul, spent time during the war as a refugee at Redcliffe. Her memoir, which has far too many references to the "well-fed, plump and happy coloured people" enslaved at Redcliffe, also recalls the common story of hiding the silver from approaching Union troops towards the end of the war.
"Declaring to those of the servants who stood about as we entered the carriage, that we were taking some provisions to Mrs. Redd. ...we dispensed with a coachman, and drove off. We had many a laugh as we proceeded through the woods, at our absurdity in concealing our errand from the family servants....When we had driven a mile or more, Mr. Tunstall produced a hatchet and began to blaze [notch] the trees.... after instructing us as to the signs he had made, 'when you come to where the blaze stops, you'll find your valuables!' and under his directions the silver was silently sunk in the ground and the earth replaced."

Silver at Redcliffe today

Loula Hammond remembered, "It was months before we succeeded in finding the silver again. Though we dug the ground over and over in every direction where we thought it was, we couldn't even find the blazes for a long time."

Catherine's husband James's obsession with his own health continued through the war. Addicted to drugs, treated with poisonous mercury and chronically anxious, Hammond spent much time as an invalid. Digestive problems he blamed on a "defective nervous system" increased while bleeding was a symptom of something actually seriously wrong. Cancer? Inflammation like Crohn's Disease? Liver failure? 

Bedroom at Redcliffe today 
"Quite unwell myself-have not for some time slept well of nights. The War, the impressment, & Sickness here, & altogether too much to do, have altogether used me up." Hammond's diary three months before he died.
Hammond declined until a fatal hemorrhage in November, 1864 a few months before war's end. Spann believed he willed himself to die or perhaps took a deliberate drug overdose to deliver him from his increasingly hostile world.

Catherine soldiered on. Hammond's Southern identity allowed no hedging of his bets so their considerable cash assets had been invested in Confederate bonds. She inherited Redcliffe and  managed it until 1873 when she sold it to son Harry.  

The 1880 census lists her as a 66-year-old farmer living with a niece and a granddaughter.

Harry and Catherine could only watch their real estate sink into late-19th-century disrepair, but he continued his interests in the sciences and agriculture, publishing statistical analyses that earned him a reputation. 

 The Savannah River at Augusta by Harry Fenn, 1872

Catherine's extended family left an enormous amount of paper, yet who she really was remains elusive. A glimpse of  how she survived a miserable marriage to a miserable man in miserable times and created a sturdy bunch of descendants is in one letter she wrote to her brother-in-law soon after the war. She acknowledges she could, “scarce restrain a burst of complaint at my change in circumstances—but as I compare my lot with many others, I see only cause for thankfulness."

Catherine died in 1896

Her letter goes on:
"I hope you will save all Mr Hammond's letters."

Visit Redcliffe Plantation State Park in Aiken County, South Carolina

More about the Hammonds:

There are classic American families that when followed through the generations tell us much about our history. The Hammonds are a great example. They wrote and kept records; they stashed them in the attics and eventually a descendant with money and curiosity saved it all---the house, the account books and diaries, the letters. John Shaw Billings was editor at Time and Life magazines. His retirement allowed him time to preserve the family legacy. Family papers are now in the South Caroliniana collection at the University of South Carolina (Hammond-Bryan-Cumming collection.) Historian Carol Rothrock Bleser spent years editing those papers. Some of her books:

Tokens of Affection: The Letters of a Planter’s Daughter in the Old South (1996) 
The Hammonds of Redcliffe (1981)
Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (1988).

Carol K. Rothrock Bleser

Here's her 2013 obituary:

Historian Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a 1982 biography of the terribly flawed patriarch: James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery
Google book preview here:
Do a search for Hammond.

Other references:
Virginia Clay Clopton: A Belle of the Fifties: Memoirs of Mrs. Clay, of Alabama, Covering Social and Political Life in Washington and the South, 1853-66. One can compare memory to reality as seen in the Hammond papers and their analysis.

Paul D. Escott. The Confederacy: The Slaveholders' Failed Venture

And see another quilt with a Hammond family connection, linked to Catherine Hammond's daughter Katherine Hammond Gregg:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Yankee Notions

Becky, Denniele, Mark & I are plotting two BOM patterns here next year, one pieced, one appliqued. The pieced Block of the Month is Yankee Notions---Twelve traditional blocks with monthly stories about two kinds of Yankee Notions:
  • Tangible sewing notions manufactured in the North
  • Philosophical and cultural notions dividing North and South

The word notion has long meant an idea—-perhaps an idea that appears a little wild to the observer. Elite Southerners viewed New Englanders and New Yorkers with their foreign notions as threatening their aristocratic way of life.

The two societies encountered each other in commercial business. For example, city merchants or rural peddlers sold small manufactured goods not made in the South before the Civil War. Somehow these small goods also became known as Yankee Notions.

From a British Board of Trade poster during World War II
A notions man

Each month on the 2nd Wednesday you'll get a free pattern here in 2020. No need to sign up but you may want to join our Facebook page so you can see what everybody's stitching. We'll let you know when that is up and ready to go.

And you'll be able to buy the patterns all at once at my Etsy store. I'll post that link soon too.

The patterns will include instructions for 18-inch blocks and 12-inch blocks (if you have BlockBase you can draw them any size.)
If you make 18" blocks you may want a 3" sashing giving you the layout above 66" x 87"
Add a 4" border to make a quilt 74" x 95"

We'll show more set ideas as we go.


We'll also be showing two-color blocks and three-color blocks. Becky & Denniele are both doing a red, white and blue color scheme.

For just the blocks for a Two-Color 12" Block Quilt you'd need 2-1/2 yards each of dark and light, probably a minimum of 3 yards of each for the 18" Blocks

For a Three-Color Quilt 12" Blocks
You'll need 3 shades
1/2 Yards 
1-1/2 Yards
1-3/4 Yards 

For 18" blocks:
1 Yard
3 Yards
3 Yards
These are rough ideas. You all follow your own muse anyway.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Catherine Fitzsimons Hammond's Civil War #1: Antebellum Years

When researchers documented South Carolina quilts thirty five years ago, the family member who brought this chintz album dated 1846 to 1848 to be photographed recalled it as a gift for James Henry Hammond of South Carolina. It's pictured in the 1985 book Social Fabric: South Carolina’s Traditional Quilts by Laurel Horton & Lynn Robertson Myers. 

Winterthur Museum collection

One would like to study each block with the chintz florals. Merikay Waldvogel recognized several wreaths cut from chintz panels like the one above with a small ruin in the center, probably printed for a chair seat.
Three wreaths are cut from the panel.
See more about the panel here at our Chintz Panel blog:

The dates 1846-1848 mean this bedcover is one of the later quilts in Merikay's Panel Database. The overall style of block style albums is a late development in Southern chintz style, replacing medallions.

James H. Hammond (1807-1864)

Hammond was a Civil-War-era politician, South Carolina's Governor 1842 to 1844 and U.S. Senator from 1857 to 1860. It's rather unlikely that the quilt was made for the former Governor as the wife of a descendant recalled, but rather for or by some female family members.

Catherine E. Fitzsimons Hammond (1814-1890)
Portrait from Find-A-Grave

Wife Catherine E. Fitzsimons Hammond was about 40 when the quilt was made. Catherine met Hammond when she was 15. Not a pretty girl, her most attractive attribute was Silver Bluff, a 7,500 acre plantation with 150 slaves  near Augusta, Georgia on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River, which she'd inherited when she was 11. Hammond, considered quite a handsome man, was looking for a rich wife. Marrying a woman with less than $20,000 was "an act of insanity," he advised a brother. Hammond could be quite charming when it suited his purposes and at 17 Catherine defied her parents in 1831 by marrying the suitor they considered a fortune hunter.

Little built environment remains at Silver Bluff-Audubon today

The newlyweds moved to Silver Bluff which Hammond put on a profitable basis while making a name for himself as a member of the South Carolina planter aristocracy, if an "ariviste," as writer Stephanie McCurry has called him. He propelled that position and a reputation as a fire-eater (fervant advocate of States' Rights) into antebellum political power.

Portrait of Senator James H. Hammond from
the Brady Studios about 1859

Catherine gave birth every year during the 1830s, accompanying her husband to Washington when he was elected to the House of Representatives, an office he quit due to his health. Looking at Hammond's behavior today we can see he had several emotional problems and serious personality disorders. Her suffered from anxiety and probably panic attacks. As a narcissist focused on his own health he saw his chronic episodes of dizziness, headaches and digestive disorder as central to family life.

Letter to Catherine from her husband, 1840
University of North Carolina Libraries

"My dear Wife....My health has been monstrous."

He and Catherine went to Europe in 1836 for his health. Not surprisingly, he didn't care for England, France or Italy and their free labor systems. A measure of his charm: When they left the ship after the return voyage not one fellow passenger still speaking to him.

But belligerence and a sense of southern privilege was a political asset at home. They built a fine house in the state capitol of Columbia at the northwest corner of Blanding and Bull Streets. Hammond ran for governor, a race he first lost and then won in 1842.

The Hampton House, built about 1818 on Blanding, still stands in Columbia

Catherine must have been pleased to live in that house near her late sister's family. Anna Fitzsimons had made a better match than Catherine, marrying Wade Hampton II of a rich and distinguished family, but she died after giving birth to her eighth child. Hampton did not remarry and the children undoubtedly found some sense of family in their aunt and uncle's home.

Harriet Flud Hampton (1823-1848)

Wade Hampton never liked Catherine's husband but peace reigned between the families until eldest daughter Harriet Hampton complained to her father that the Governor had been sexually abusing her and four teenaged sisters. Proper protocol was to ignore such claims; disclosure would damage the girls' ever-important reputations, but Hampton's political and personal dislike of his brother in law inspired him to challenge the Governor to a duel. Instead he decided to ruin Hammond by spreading the story in gossip.

Wade Hampton II (1791-1858)

Hammond recognized his political career was over (and Hampton might just shoot him on the street) so the family returned to the Augusta-area plantations when his term ended in 1844. Catherine heard  rumors and suffered through the rift with her family but left nothing about her own feelings. Perhaps, like one of Hammond's friends, she was unable "to believe that anything really bad could be concealed under that beautiful face."

Catherine P. Hampton (1824-1926)
Historic Columbia Foundation

The Hampton girls suffered the most from innuendo about a scandal, described in detail or just a salacious mystery. "After all the fuss made no man who valued his standing would marry one of the Hampton girls," was one opinion. None married and they spent the rest of their lives living together, during the Civil War raising orphaned nieces and nephews at Millwood Plantation, which burned in 1865. Their sister-in-law Sally Baxter Hampton was not fond of  "the girls" writing at Christmas, 1855.
"Ann is a insane fool---ought to be in a strait waistcoat & should be if I could put her there."
The album quilt above was made during the years when the Hammond family retreated to the plantations near Augusta. Catherine might have ignored the gossip about her nieces but she was furious when she found out that James had children with two enslaved women, mother and daughter Sally and Louisa Johnson. In December, 1850 she took her daughters back to her parent's home in Charleston and lived apart from Hammond for five years.

Letter from Hammond to Catherine in Augusta
University of North Carolina Libraries

By 1855 the couple was living together again; some compromise must have been reached. The South Carolina legislature elected Hammond as a U.S. Senator in 1857 (enemy Wade Hampton died in 1858.) Hammond and Catherine returned to Washington, where they lived at Brown's Hotel, the fashionable place for Southerners to board until Hammond walked out of the U.S. Senate after Lincoln's election in 1860. The family returned to their home along the Savannah River.

Next week: Catherine Hammond during the war.

Hammond left a good deal of paper: letters, accounts and a strange, secret diary. One of the authors who has analyzed his life characterizes him as:
 "an uncommonly mean man, a despicable character among a historical set that offered great competition for that particular distinction."
 Stephanie McCurry in Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Show of Hospital Sketches Quilts---2022

My Hospital Sketches top is done. Here it is with the scrappy border
and an extra Dot. It's on its way to quilter Lori Kukuk who will make
it look really good.

I have two and a half years to get it bound as a museum curator has asked if we'd like to have a show of our quilts in the summer of 2022. I said, "Yes, indeed."

Seven Sisters Quilting from Instagram

Space will be limited so we will have a juried exhibit. I'll keep you posted over the next 2-1/2 years.You know how good our collective memory is. Two and a half years!!!

Wendy Caton Reed's doing hers potholder style, quilting
& binding each block.
She'll be done soon.

Why don't you write me a note at now and tell me you want to be reminded in about 18 months that you'd like us to consider your quilt for the show. I'll keep a list and remind you.

Diana Quinn

I'll also post about it here in a year or two ---- Stay tuned.

Karrin Capps Hurd

Lisa Wagner

Most pictures from our Facebook page. I think it would be smart to keep this page for next year's applique too.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Calico Lining in a Confederate Hat

Here's a cool item. A Confederate cap, called a Kepi.
Wool on the outside

With a calico lining.

One could probably have a nice collection of hand-made kepi, but this one sold for about $8,000.

Here's what the seller said:

"Kepi...manufactured in the Richmond Virginia Depot. Similar examples can be found a museums across the world including the ...American Civil War Museum which has a similar example. ...constructed from grey and red Kersey wool. During the mid-war period the largest mill in Virginia was the Crenshaw Woollen Mill in Richmond, which made "all wool goods". Another mill was the Danville Manufacturing Co. in Danville, Virginia. This firm also supplied "thousands of yards of Kersey" throughout the war. By 1863 the caps produced by the Richmond Depot had colored bands and crowns. "

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Some Design Walls

Nancy Bekofske's got all nine blocks of the Hospital Sketches quilt done.
Here's her design wall.

So has Janet Olmstead

And Jeanne Arnieri

Here's Julee Prose's design floor - her deck with her sashed blocks

Susanna Pangelinan is working on a fabulous border

Robbie Smith's border is finished!

And so is Peggy Sandfort's.

This is Maureen Franz's first applique quilt.
I think she has a talent for it.

Lin Trivisonno McQuiston bought the pattern ahead of time, so she
is completely finished. She redrafted to 10" squares.