Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts

Saturday, November 5, 2011

45 Port and Starboard

Port and Starboard by Becky Brown

Here's a block with a seafaring name to remember the first impressive Union victory of the Civil War. In the early November, 1861, the Union Navy and Army cooperated to capture Port Royal Sound in the sea islands area of South Carolina south of Charleston.

From Harper's Weekly
November, 1861
The Union Navy hands Jeff Davis an incendiary cocktail.

 Samuel Francis Du Pont

Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont was credited with the naval victory.

The Wabash, Du Pont's ship

Notice that the wooden ship combines steam and sail. There's a smoke stack on the deck.

Map of Port Royal Harbor from the late 18th century
showing St. Helena Island and Port Royal Island
with Beaufort (the black star) on the southeast shore.

Letters to his wife Sophie and others describe the maneuvers of his fleet of fifty boats and the first days of Union-occupied South Carolina. The city of Beaufort was the largest town in the area of swampy island  plantations owned by the Rhetts, Barnwells, Pinckneys and Colcocks and worked by thousands of slaves.

"You can form no idea of the terror we have spread in the whole Southern country. Beaufort is deserted...the enemy flew in panic leaving public and private property, letters...clothes, arms, etc. The contrabands [freed slaves] are wild and sacking Beaufort, in return for being shot down because they would not leave with their masters. One called out in a broad grin ...'They thought you could not do it.' "

Sketch from Harper's Weekly shows the streets of
Beaufort in December, deserted after weeks of civil unrest.

The Rhett House Inn in Beaufort
Once home of the Rhett family

Ruins of a plantation on Ladies's Island,
Photograph from about 1933
Library of Congress

The sacking of the town and the plantation buildings continued. Frank Du Pont wrote his wife a week later:

"A sadder picture of desolation from the desertion of the population cannot be imagined; and the inhabitants fled not from fear of us but from the dread of their own Negroes; a few household servants followed their masters, but the field hands they dare not attempt to control, and the overseers had run with their masters. There are fifteen slaves to one white in this part; the [planters] threatened to shoot if they did not follow them into the interior, but I believe dare not attempt to execute this threat. The Negroes, anxious to show everything, said...'Massa, they more afraid [of] us, than you'---this was often repeated...The beautiful oleanders and chrysanthemums smiled on this scene of robbery and confusion."

Port & Starboard is a block can be shaded in many ways for different effects. See Block #1 and Block #26 for different arrangements of 32 half-square triangles. This particular shading was given the name by the Nancy Cabot columnist for the Chicago Tribune in 1937. It's BlockBase #1176d.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut squares 2-7/8". Cut 8 light, 4 medium and 4 dark. Cut each into 2 triangles with one diagonal cut.

You need 16 light triangles and 8 medium and dark triangles.

The Admiral's Wife
 Sophie Du Pont Du Pont by Matthew Brady. The fashions look about 1840.

Sophie Madeleine du Pont (1810 - 1888) married her cousin Samuel Francis du Pont. There is a lovely book called Sophie Du Pont: A Young Lady in America: Sketches, Diaries, and Letters, 1823-1833 by Betty-Bright Low and Jacqueline Hinsley that is a nice window into the 1820s.  

It's out of print, but not hard to find on line.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

32 Carolina Lily

Note from BB. There is something wrong with the program Blogger this summer. No matter how many times I rearrange the paragraphs in this post to make a coherent narrative the program rearranges them in random order. Sorry for the strange order. Scroll around to get the measurements you need.

Carolina Lily
By Becky Brown

Early in the War the women of the South, like the women of the North, organized Soldiers' Aid Societies. Emma Holmes of Charleston, South Carolina recalled a large meeting in late July of 1861.

"This afternoon the Ladies Charleston Volunteer Aid Society held a meeting at the S.C. Hall.  192 ladies were there and nearly $1000 collected from subscriptions and donations...12 Managers [will] cut out the work and distribute it. The ladies all seemed to enjoy seeing their friends as well as the purpose for which they came."

John P Marszalek has edited The Diary of Miss Emma Holmes 1861-1866. See more about it at LSU Press.
Although the picture on the cover shows an older woman, Emma was in her twenties during the war, a young and passionate Secesh.

Emma's Charleston house (the three-story building with a three-story piazza) survived the fire and the War. It was demolished about 1920. This picture from the Library of Congress was taken twenty years at the turn of the 20th century. The piazzas (stacked, covered porches) are a characteristic of Charleston's architecture.

Emma reported on the various meetings she attended. In August the Ladies Society for Clothing the Troops in Active Service reported:

"2301 flannel shirts and drawers have been completed, two or three companies going on have been supplied, and the rest sent to the quarter-master."

 In October friends visited to make socks and slippers. 

"Out of the eleven ladies gathered, eight were knitting stockings, & grandmother showed us a pair of slippers sent her from London just after she was married, when it was the fashion for the ladies to make their own for drawing room wear."

Emma Holmes was 23 in 1861, one of 11 children of widowed Eliza Holmes. The family lived in Charleston on the income of a leased plantation until the end of 1861 when an enormous fire burned the city. They moved to Camden where she continued her diary throughout the War.

BlockBase has several patterns named after South Carolina and Charleston with which we could recall the Ladies' Charleston Volunteer Aid Society, but today's quilters think first of the Carolina Lily, a design that would be a challenge at 8".

The pattern for this week echoes the usual triple Carolina Lily. We can think of it as one bloom in a vase.
It's a variation of BlockBase #732, published in the Ladies Home Journal in 1909 as Flower Pot. The flowers in the quilt pattern are traditionally red, pink or yellow, but it's gold here to symbolize the botanical Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) a wild flower that grows throughout the Carolinas.

 In the west we call these spotted wildflowers Tiger Lilies.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 2 light strips 6-1/8" x 2-7/8"
B - Cut 1 light square 4-1/2". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts. You need 2 light triangles.
C - Cut 1 light square 2-7/8".
D - Cut 1 dark and 1 light square 3-1/8". Cut each in half with a diagonal cut. You need 1 dark and 1 light triangle.
E - Cut diamonds from strips cut 2-1/4" x 5-3/8". Trim 45 degree angles. Or use the template on the PDF. Click here:

The diamond is supposed to finish to 2-3/8" on all four sides.
With seam allowances the side is 3-1/8" long

You need 2 gold and 2 light green diamonds. 
F - Cut 1 dark square 4-1/8". Cut in half with a diagonal cut. You need 1 dark triangle.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

15 Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter
The Fort Sumter block was given that name in the Chicago Tribune's quilt column in the 1930s.
In Charleston 150 years ago this week,  Mary Chestnut's husband was negotiating with the Yankees before the Confederate bombardment of the Union fort in Charleston's harbor.
"His interview with Colonel Anderson [Federal commander at the Fort] had been deeply interesting, but Mr. Chesnut was not inclined to be communicative. He wanted his dinner. He felt for Anderson and had telegraphed to President [Jefferson] Davis for instructions—what answer to give Anderson, etc. He has now gone back to Fort Sumter with additional instructions….

Colonel James Chesnut, Jr. during the War
I do not pretend to go to sleep. How can I? If Anderson does not accept terms at four, the orders are, he shall be fired upon. I count four, St. Michael's bells chime out and I begin to hope. At half-past four the heavy booming of a cannon. I sprang out of bed, and on my knees prostrate I prayed as I never prayed before.

There was a sound of stir all over the house, pattering of feet in the corridors. All seemed hurrying one way. I put on my double-gown and a shawl and went, too. It was to the housetop. The shells were bursting. In the dark I heard a man say, 'Waste of ammunition.' I knew my husband was rowing about in a boat somewhere in that dark bay, and that the shells were roofing it over, bursting toward the fort."

Mary watched the battle from the
 roof of her house in Charleston,
a scene pictured in Harper's Weekly, May 4, 1861

Fort Sumter guarded Charleston's harbor. This map adapted from Wikipedia shows the bombardment that Mary Chesnut witnessed. The Fort (the red star) was fired upon from points on land north, east and west.

The Fort before the shelling.
 Picture from Harper's Weekly, April, 1861.

The quilt block, named by the fictional Nancy Cabot who wrote the quilt column for the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s, seems to symbolize the Fort in the harbor. The central nine-patch can stand for the building. The blue triangles around it can stand for the water in the harbor.

In actuality the Fort is a five-sided structure.

The red shapes in the corners can symbolize the lines of fire from the shore.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 red rectangles 3-1/2" x 2-1/2". You'll trim the outside points at 45 degree angles when you've finished piecing the block.
B - Cut 2 blue squares 3-7/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with two cuts. You need 8 triangles.

C - Cut 4 light squares 1-1/2".
D - Cut 4 dark rectangles 1-1/2" x 4-1/4".
E - Cut 1 medium square 4-1/4".

The block has two variations, found as number 2423 or 2461 in BlockBase. Another name is Four Points.

An account of the the week's news
 in the Chicago Tribune, April, 1861

Mary's portrait from her book

Witness the War from Mary Chesnut's point of view by downloading her diary or adding this site to your favorites:
You can check it every week to get her perspective as a Confederate government insider who is perceptive enough to foresee the horrors ahead.


Fort Sumter by "Sewprimitive"

"Sewprimitive" posted this block early this morning on the Flickr group. She copied the pictures above onto fabric and created the Fort Sumter block out of the period graphics. Very clever!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

14 Fox and Geese

Fox and Geese
by Becky Brown

Fox and Geese can represent the standoff for control of Fort Sumter that occupied political discussions in early April 150 years ago. While spring bloomed, an uneasiness settled North and South as Lincoln took over the federal government. Sarah Rousseau Espey in Alabama sought solace in her needlework.

March 25, 1861
Pretty day, C. started to Georgia this morning, our folks [slaves] commenced planting corn; I still feel that strange depression of spirit, and dread of coming evil for which I cannot account; it seems that something dreadful is before us. Commenced fringing a counterpane.
Lincoln's first crisis was re-supplying the Union Fort Sumter in Charleston's harbor. Food was running out and South Carolinians threatened to fire upon any ships that might try to bring supplies. Gustavus Fox recently rejoined the Navy and he had an idea. President Buchanan had rejected this plan for sending ships stealthily to Charleston but Lincoln told him to go ahead. Fox headed south in command of the steamer Baltic following the cutter Harriet Lane (named for Buchanan's niece.) The next day the U.S.S. Pawnee departed.

Would South Carolina troops fire on the U.S. Navy and be viewed as the aggressors? Attacking the U.S. Navy would surely be an act of war. It was a game of Fox and Geese, and Fox was out maneuvered. The Confederates assaulted the Union-held Fort before the Baltic and the other ships arrived. Who was the aggressor then? Wasn't the Southern state just defending her borders?

The Confederates assaulted the Fort from the batteries in Charleston harbor. After observing the two-day battle, Fox and the Baltic rescued the federal soldiers who abandoned Fort Sumter to the Confederacy.

The Confederate flag flies over a battered Fort Sumter

On April 16, Sarah Espey wrote:

A stormy day and getting cold….Thomas went to Hale's and learned that the Carolinians have taken Fort Sumter and that our other volunteer company is ordered to Fort-Pickens, so I suppose the war is now opened….
The Fox and Geese pattern is a 19th-century design that was given that name in Carrie Hall's 1935 index to patterns. There are many variations of these four patches made of large and small triangles, but no record of what mid-19th-century quilters might have called them. It's #1313 in my Encyclopedia and BlockBase.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 2 light and 2 dark squares 2-7/8"

Cut each in half diagonally to make two triangles. You need 4 of each shade.
B - Cut 4 dark squares 2-1/2"
C - Cut 1 light and 1 dark square 4-7/8".
Cut each in half diagonally to make two triangles. You need 2 of each shade.

Finish by making a larger 4-patch.

Read Sarah Espey's diary for the year 1862 online here:

Gustavus Fox was a Navy man who'd graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis and served in the Mexican War. In the 1850s he worked as an "agent for the Bay State Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts." Can we translate that to "a sales rep for a woolen mill?" He became Assistant Secretary of the Union Navy during the War and afterward went back to the woolen business in Massachusetts.

The Bay State Mills were the largest woolen mills
in Massachusetts in the late 19th century