Saturday, December 7, 2019

Battle Trophy

19" square
Here's a sorry old applique block found at a Philadelphia estate sale.
Sold again online recently.

It has an inked label on the reverse
and a couple of paper labels on the front.

"Taken at the
Battle of
Bristow [Bristoe?] Station
Aug 27. 1862"

Bristoe Station is in Prince William County, Virginia

The heavyweight paper label pinned to the front is in good shape.

But this paper label is in tatters.

The seller thought it might be a memorial quilt block made to honor
a soldier "Taken at the Battle of Bristow Station,
Aug 27 1862"

Another story for the inscription:
The block was stolen at the Battle of Bristoe Station

The National Park Service runs Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park 
 southwest of the Manassas battlefield. This photo is from their page.

Bristoe Station was a small railroad junction with Confederate supply
trains passing through. Union troops aimed to destroy the tracks and
the equipment.

It was a train wreck, one of many in the area.

How did one small quilt block survive it all?

Library of Congress

Alfred Waud sketched the events of the battle now called of Bristoe Station, which actually took place October 13th. Historians call the August 27th encounter the Battle of Kettle Run or Union Mills. Battle names were niceties local civilians cared little about. Waud's drawing here is of a house taken over by troops who built a look-out tower on the roof.  Residents are camping in a tent.

"A.R.W. Oct 1862"

Waud was great at capturing the scene in a few strokes.
The figures look like woeful women staring at their occupied home.

It's one thing to steal a quilt for bedding, but awfully mean to steal a woman's unfinished quilt block. Yet, this was total war meant to terrorize civilians. My guess is that a Union soldier pocketed that quilt block and a year and as half later it was displayed at the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission Fair as a trophy of war.

Captured flags, armaments and other souvenirs were common displays.
The block may have been sold to raise money for the Sanitary Commission,
or just shown for smug inspiration.

What was planned for the end of those stems?


Robin said...

What a bittersweet story in that drawing. The women, who had absolutely no say in whether they went to war or not, had their home invaded. And if the story is true that this block was stolen then the one thing that brought them solace, their needlework, was taken away as well. Thanks for the work you do to keep us informed and on the right track.

Barbara Brackman said...

I know, it's so sad to think that block was shown off just for spite.
As you will see in the Cassandra's Circle BOM, however, there were plenty of Southern woman who not only had a say in advocating war, they were influential.

Cheryl said...

That sketch is haunting. And thank you for giving us some insight into what life was like in those times.....not easy for most people. How mean to take away someone's stitching!

QuiltGranma said...

Imagining how much time and effort it took to learn to do that and then it was TAKEN! What an insult to the maker!