Saturday, October 29, 2011

44 Union

Union by Becky Brown

This block, which dates back to the late 19th century, may have been known as Union or Union Square back then, a commorative Civil War design. We can use it to recall an important change in the Union Army 150 years ago. General Winfield Scott resigned as general in chief during the last week of October, 1861.

Scott's last meeting with the Cabinet
from Harper's Weekly, 1861

His replacement was General George B. McClellan, who had served under Scott in the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. After the Union's Bull Run disaster was blamed on rookie soldiers, McClellan had earned a reputation creating an army with discipline. He won some minor battles throughout the summer.

 November 3, 1861
Alfred Waud's drawing of a torch light parade in front of McClellan's house to celebrate his promotion to General in charge of the Union Armies. Torchlight parades were popular political events, as were "illuminations" in which householders put a light in each window facing the street. The fireworks display includes an eagle, flags and a portrait of the General.

On the morning of November 3rd McClellan wrote his wife a letter:

"I have already been up once this morning—that was at four o'clock to escort Gen. Scott to the depot. It was pitchdark and a pouring rain ; but with most of my staff and a squadron of cavalry I saw the old man off. He was very polite to me; sent various kind messages to you and the baby; so we parted. The old man said that his sensations were very peculiar in leaving Washington and active life. I can easily understand them; and it may be that at some distant day I, too, shall totter away from Washington, a worn-out soldier, with naught to do but make my peace with God. The sight of this morning was a lesson to me which I hope not soon to forget. I saw there the end of a long, active, and ambitious life, the end of the career of the first soldier of his nation; and it was a feeble old man scarce able to walk; hardly any one there to see him off but his successor. Should I ever become vainglorious and ambitious, remind me of that spectacle."
For a while McClellan was the man but his arrogance and cautious leadership caused Lincoln to fire him months later.

September 17, 1862
Lincoln visiting McClellan in camp
From the Library of Congress

One of my favorite Civil War pictures shows the woven coverlet McClellan slept under in his tent. McClellan and Lincoln held each other in contempt. McCellan ran for President against Lincoln in the 1864 election, promising peace negotiations with the Confederacy. Lincoln won.

Union (BlockBase #2056) was given that name by the Ladies' Art Company in the late 19th century. Other names are Union Square and Four Crowns.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut 4 background squares 1-7/8"
B Cut 4 background and 8 dark squares 2-1/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one diagonal cut. You need 8 background and 16 dark triangles.

C  Cut 1 background and 1 medium square 3-7/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with two diagonal cuts. You need 4 of each.

D  Cut 2 medium dark squares 3-1/2". Cut each into 2 triangles with one diagonal cut. You need 4 triangles.

E Cut 1 dark square 3-1/8".

Campaign art from the 1864 Presidential election

Union Square by Pam Mayfield
Pam Mayfield loves this block.
She's made several---with more squares inside of squares in the center.

Union Square top by Pam Mayfield

Saturday, October 22, 2011

43 Right Hand of Friendship

Right Hand of Friendship
By Becky Brown

Right Hand of Friendship can remind us of the networks of help that continued to form an "Underground Railroad" throughout the Civil War.

While slavery's foundations began to crumble in 1861, the system continued in most places until the War was over in 1865. Near St. Louis, Missouri, a border state that never joined the Confederacy, Archer Alexander and his family lived in slavery through much of the War. 

His slave-holding neighbors helped the Confederate cause in small ways by burning bridges to confound Federal patrols. When he heard of a planned bridge attack, Archer impulsively ran to a Union neighbor's home with information. Realizing the consequences his spying would earn him, he kept running---into the city of St. Louis where he was fortunate to meet the family of William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister with abolitionist sympathies. Eliot agreed to hire him and offered to buy his freedom and that of his wife Louisa, left at home with no idea of what had happened to Archer.

William Greenleaf Eliot,
a friend to many slaves.

Louisa received a welcome letter assuring her of her husband's safety and the generous offer of freedom, but had to dictate a sad reply:

"MY DEAR HUSBAND,--I received your letter yesterday, and lost no time in asking Mr. Jim if he would sell me, and what he would take for me. He flew at me, and said I would never get free only at the point of the Baynot, and there was no use in my ever speaking to him any more about it. I don't see how I can ever get away except you get soldiers to take me from the house, as he is watching me night and day. If I can get away I will, but the people here are all afraid to take me away. He is always abusing Lincoln, and calls him a old Rascoll. He is the greatest rebel under heaven. It is a sin to have him loose. He says if he had hold of Lincoln he would chop him up into mincemeat. I had good courage all along until now, but now I am almost heart-broken. Answer this letter as soon as possible. I am your affectionate wife, LOUISA ALEXANDER"

Archer, the Eliots and the Louisa's neighbors formed new plans. The Eliots offered to shelter Louisa and daughter Nellie. A neighbor agreed to carry them in his oxcart to the city for payment of $20. Clad only in day dresses without bonnets or shawls so as not to raise suspicion they were planning to travel, Louisa and Nellie sauntered to the road near their cabin where they'd agreed to rendezvous. The farmer hid them under the cornshucks in the wagon and casually walked along, leading his oxen to the city as farmers did every day. Despite questioning by suspicious locals, the escape was a success.

Letters sent by the U.S. Post Office during the War looked much like ours today
with envelopes, 3 cent cancelled stamps and a date cancellation.

Louisa and Archer could not read or write, yet they managed to carry out a complex plan by mail. We often think of illiterate people as being deprived of any written communication (a possible reason for all the stories about secret visual codes in tales of slavery) but we should realize many social systems were in place to assist those who needed help.  In Louisa's case sympathetic neighbors took dictation and carried their correspondence, acting as an informal and illegal post office.

Archer Alexander so impressed William Eliot that the minister wrote his story as a legacy for the Eliot grandchildren, hoping to keep the story of slavery alive for future generations. Eliot eventually published the account in the 1880s. William Eliot's school, the Eliot Seminary, became Washington University. One of the grandchildren for whom he wrote the Alexanders' story grew up to be T. S. Eliot, the modernist poet.

Archer, a handsome man into his old age, became the model for sculptor Thomas Ball who had a commission from former slaves to create a statue of Lincoln the Emancipator. Freedom's Memorial, a portrait of Lincoln and a kneeling slave, can be seen in Lincoln Park in Washington D.C. In the sculpture Archer Alexander assumed the pose of the shackled, kneeling slave---the image that had represented the antislavery movement for over a century.

Today that image rankles. Archer seems to symbolize passivity, a man waiting to be rescued. But it is important to recall that the kneeling slave had great meaning for blacks and whites during his life time. The man in shackles signified both a sympathy for the slaves' plight and a willingness to act.

The quilt block Right Hand of Friendship was published by Hearth and Home magazine in the early 20th century. It is BlockBase #2831.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A Cut 4 background squares 3-1/8".
B Cut 1 background, 1 dark and 1 medium square 3-7/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with two diagonal cuts. You need 4 of each.

C Cut 1 dark and 1 medium square 3-1/2". Cut each into 2 triangles with one diagonal cut. You need 2 of each.

Read William Greenleaf Eliot's book: The Story of Archer Alexander: From Slavery to Freedom at the Documents of the American South webpage.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

42 H is for Hospital

Log Fence by Becky Brown

The H signifies a field hospital.

A faded Civil War hospital flag
from Gettysburg National Military Park Collection. 
The background color was probably a stronger yellow 150 years ago.

Flags were used to communicate on the battle field. We're all familiar with the white flag as a signal of surrender. Yellow flags meant the no-fire zone of a hospital for either side. Confederate nurse Kate Cumming explained their use in her first day of nursing in Corinth, Mississippi.

We are at the Tishomingo Hotel, which, like every other large building, has been taken for a hospital. The yellow flag is flying from the top of each. Mrs. Ogden tried to prepare me for the scenes which I should witness upon entering the wards. But alas! nothing that I had ever heard or read had given me the faintest idea of the horrors witnessed here. I do not think that words are in our vocabulary expressive enough to present to the mind the realities of that sad scene. Certainly, none of the glories of the war were presented here."

Hand-colored photo of a field hospital
after the Battle of Savage's Station, Virginia.

Late in the War the Union Army adopted a clearer signal, a yellow flag with a green H. The graphic design alerted friend and foe that patients were sheltered in that camp. 

Above the Michigan State Relief Association nursing at a field hospital in Virginia.
Is that a quilt airing out on the tent?

The quilt block is drawn from a child's quilt that is pictured in my book Civil War Women, made by a member of the Burkhart family in Illinois about the time of the Civil War. Terry Thompson and I called it Log Fence for that book. The H's just jumped out at me recently.

I want to emphasize: I am NOT saying this mid-century quilt was intended to represent the H or a hospital. We can, however, use the block to symbolize the brave doctors and nurses who worked in the field hospitals.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

Use a background that captures the faded yellow in the Gettysburg flag above or a brighter yellow to indicate the flag as it once was.
A Cut 1 green square 1-5/8"
B Cut 2 background yellow prints into rectangles 3-7/8" x 1-5/8"
C Cut 2 green and 2 background yellow prints into strips 8-1/2" x 1-5/8"
D Cut 2 slightly darker yellow strips 8-1/2" x 2" (This will give you extra to center and trim the block when done.)

See more about nurses on this post from April.

Read Kate Cumming's 1866 book
A Journal of Hospital Life in the Confederate Army of Tennessee

It's also available in a newer print edition as Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse.

Here's a version of Log Fence by
Francine Pons of San Antonio, Texas.

Below three photos of nurses at Union Hospitals in Washington D.C. from the Library of Congress

Saturday, October 8, 2011

41 Red, White & Blue Quilt

Red, White & Blue by Becky Brown

Every Civil War sampler needs a pieced star block. This week's pattern was published as Red, White and Blue quilt in the agricultural magazine The Orange Judd Farmer in 1898. (An odd name for a magazine but Orange Judd was the publisher's name---also an odd name for a man.)

Several patriotic quilts with pieced and appliqued stars survive from the 1861-1865 years.

Quilt by Cornelia Dow and others, Portland, Maine, 1864

This quilt (the stars are appliqued) was first published in the groundbreaking book about women's history called Hearts and Hands by Pat Ferrero, Elaine Hedges and Julie Silber. The star blocks are covered with inked sentiments about the Union cause, many patriotic, many amusing. The book pictured a block with the pun: "While our fingers guide the needle, Our thoughts are intense (tents)."

Maria Cornelia Durant Maynard Dow
About 1830
A collage made of a badly scanned portrait
 in her husband's autobiography

The authors attributed the quilt's organization to Cornelia Dow (1808-1883), wife of a Union General who had been released from Libby Prison in 1864. Her husband Neal Dow wrote an autobiography in which he described his wife.

"When not quite twenty-six years of age, having secured sufficient means to justify the establishment of a home for myself, I married Maria Cornelia Durant Maynard, on the 20th of January, 1830. My wife's father, John Maynard, was born in Framingham, Mass....went to St. Croix when a youth, and there met, and in 1789 married, her mother, Mary Durant, born in the island of St. Croix in 1771....Returning to this country with his wife and several children, Mr. Maynard, who had in the meantime accumulated a fortune, took up his residence in Bulfinch street, Boston, where his youngest child, Maria Cornelia Durant, was born June 18, 1808.....My wife's father, having met with financial reverses, was obliged to break up his home in Boston, and came with his family to reside on a Scarboro, Me. Maria Cornelia went to live with an aunt, for whom she was named, and [at sixteen] to Portland to pursue her studies in a private school for young women...."

The Neal Dow Memorial on Congress Street in Portland

In 1829 Neal Dow had this house built in anticipation of his marriage.Today it's the home of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, a monument to Dow and his temperance work. (He was mentioned as originator of the Maine Law on Ken Burn's documentary Prohibition on PBS this week.)
Maria Cornelia was 56
 when the quilt was made. 
Undated photo from her husband's autobiography

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

The block this week is BlockBase #3677. It requires template piecing.
See the templates in the PDF by clicking here:*mSmA
Or click on this picture and print it so it measures 8" along the top line.

Becky, an excellent seamstress, shows us how she put this together. EQ draws patterns like this with a  separate pattern piece for each shape. Because she is so good she fussy cut each piece and then lined up the stripes and the flowers. "I loved the challenge of piecing this block, " she writes. This is a challenge you do not need to tackle---unless you want to. Small over-all floral calicoes would be easier to work with.

Becky: "At first glance it may appear that all 5 star points use the same template, but there are 3 templates for the star. I cut all the pieces and lightly marked the pattern letter on the back of the star pieces."
She stitched the star together first and then added the set-in pieces one by one.
"You will notice I basted a white thread in F, (to mark it as the top) and added the pieces clockwise. F to H, H to J, etc. "
You can always applique it.

Two other Maine Civil War quilts were on display this summer.

This flag quilt was made by the Ladies Aid Society of the First Church in Belfast, Maine in 1864 and sent to the Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C., where it was displayed for sick and wounded soldiers. In 2011 the quilt was donated to the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.

This Civil War patriotic quilt was made by the Ladies Aid Society of Portland about 1864
Collection of the Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, Maine.

Among the verses inked on it:

Ye have fought our battles for us, Showing how the brave can die.
We are waiting to receive you, When ye lay your armor by.
We’ll stitch with the needle. A
nd fight with the tongue
‘Till every old rebel Is conquered or hung.

Read more about this quilt, which was on display at the New England Quilt Museum during the summer

We have 12 weeks to go (there are 53 Saturdays in 2011) but don't think the patterns are going to get progressively more difficult. There are still some four-patches on the horizon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

40 Order Number Eleven

Order Number Eleven
By Becky Brown

Order Number Eleven was named for a Union order forcing Southern sympathizers to leave their homes.

The quilt design Order Number 11 was published in the Kansas City Star in 1929 by Ruby Short McKim, a pattern designer from Independence, Missouri. She told the story of Fannie Kreeger Haller who as a ten-year-old, "saw her mother's choice new quilt snatched from their bed by marauders back in 18[63]when Order No. 11 was the issue. She carried the treasured design in her mind and years after reproduced the quilt, christening it 'Order No. 11'."

Detail of George Caleb Bingham's painting Martial Law or Order #11.
Is that a quilt being stolen on the balcony?

This dramatic painting by Mattie Bingham's husband is one reason the story of Order #11 lives on. See Mattie's story in Block#19.

Even sixty-five years later, McKim's readers would have been quite familiar with the issue of Order Number 11. In 1863 Missouri Bushwhackers under the control of William Quantrill burned the pro-Union town of Lawrence, Kansas, the home of the Jayhawkers. Quantrill's raiders murdered every man and boy they could find, killing nearly 200. Four days later the Federal Army issued the order evacuating four counties in western Missouri in what could be seen as either a wise precaution or a vicious act of revenge.

Union soldiers and guerillas terrorized families into leaving by burning their homes and stealing their possessions. Unionist Missourians were permitted to move to designated military outposts or to Kansas. Those without certificates of loyalty had to leave. The roads south of Kansas City were filled with frightened and angry refugees, among them Bursheba Younger. (See her story in Block #30:

Fannie's mother's quilt, which was jayhawked right off the bed, was of the design also known as Hickory Leaf or the Reel, a pattern that dates back to the 1840s. 

The early versions were sometimes pieced but most are applique.

Nancy Harris McCorkle and Charity McCorkle Kerr
Sisters-in-law Nannie and Charity were Confederate sympathizers who aided Missouri guerilla Bushwhackers and were imprisoned in Kansas City. The jail fell down killing Charity and three other women, one in a series of heartbreaking events that led to Order Number 11.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

Cut a square 8-1/2" of background fabric.
See the templates here:
Use the templates in the PDF file to cut the applique pieces. Add a scant 1/4" seam allowance to the pieces.
You need 1 of the large piece A and 4 of the crescent B.

Prepare and applique in your favorite manner.

Remember if the PDF prints out the wrong size you can adjust the size when you are giving your printer instructions. If it's too big--- try printing it at 50% and see how it looks in the preview. Adjust the percentage until the block fits within the margins of an 8-1/2 x 11" piece of paper. It should then fit fine in your 8" block.

Another way to do this pattern is to applique the whole figure as one piece. See Jo Morton's popular pattern "Rachel's Reel" for a similar design with a single applique patch that fits into an 8" square.

The Reel design is one of the classic patchwork patterns from before the Civil War.

Here it's been modified with a white signature strip across each block. The quilt (probably about 1850) was advertised as a New Jersey quilt in an online auction.

In 1904 Caroline Abbot Stanley wrote a novel called Order Number Eleven: A Tale of the Border, as partisan and romantic as Bingham's painting. Read it here at Google Books