Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Baltimore Album with Civil War Imagery from Debby Cooney

Elizabeth A. Chanceaulme Sutton's block in a rather late
 Baltimore Album quilt top with unusual Civil War imagery

As most BAQ's date from the 1840s & 1850s, Union slogans are unusual. Baltimore situated in a Union state during the war was not a Union stronghold, one reason besides timing that Baltimore albums with Union imagery are rare.

Debby Cooney is guest blogging today. As a leading expert on Baltimore Album quilts she recently wrote an analysis of this 1862 Baltimore Album quilt top for the Baltimore Applique Society, summarized here. Photos are from the Richard Opfer auction site where the top sold last October. It's now in the inventory of quilt dealer Stella Rubin, who graciously allowed Debby to study and photograph details of this important Civil War artifact.

We'll start by explaining the numbering system BAQ scholars use.
Each horizontal row is given a number; each vertical row a letter.

Elizabeth Sutton's block D3 proclaims “The Union Forever” 
embroidered on a red horseshoe strip enclosing a stuffed eagle
with a flag shield on the breast, holding a banner 
reading “United We Stand Divided We Fall.”
 Tri-color French liberty caps sit in both top corners.

From Debby's analysis:

This late Baltimore Album quilt top dated 1862 is the only one I know of that references the Civil War. Many blocks present martial imagery and wording that support the Union’s goals of keeping the states together and ending slavery. War motifs include U.S. flags, shields, eagles, drums, and liberty caps. Patriotic phrases are inked on several blocks. Others have adapted iconograph of the French revolution and its slogan Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite


MW Sutton’s block exhibits a dramatic Baltimore clipper ship with red sails very similar to those seen on earlier BAQs. A striped U.S. shield sits in both upper corners. Below the ship’s hull is a patch of ocean in which embroidered red and white fish swim. The bottom of this strip is embroidered “U S Frigate Cumberland M W Sutton.” Embroidered cherry trees lie around and beneath the ship. The USS Cumberland was a 50-gun sailing frigate of the U.S. Navy, the first ship sunk by the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia in the battle of Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862.

Blocks featured in the center are made with a good deal of embroidery that appears to be the work of one person or others with a similar style. 

Signed by a younger daughter of Martin Chanceaulme,
Susanna C. Chanceaulme Carlton Ensor's block is an 
embroidered lattice basket holding stuffed & embroidered
 calico fruit surrounded by an open wreath of berries &
 leaves with her stenciled name below.

Many of the names are Chanceaulme, all likely related to Martin Chanceaulme (1788-1863). He was born in France, emigrated to Haiti and then to the U.S. before 1819, when he married Philadelphian Susanna Hamlet (1796-1859). In the early 1820s they moved to Baltimore where Martin worked as a cabinetmaker and wood carver until his death. Several of their children and relatives contributed the central nine blocks. Four of the red and green blocks include names of women of two families with husbands in the woodworking trades, which may be their connection to the Chanceaulmes.

Motifs in the outer rows are made largely with red and green calico prints and solids.

Signed S Chanceaulme, probably Sarah Ann (1841-1922) one of Martin’s younger daughters, this block exhibits crossed cannons surmounted by the U.S. striped shield surrounded by an open acorn wreath; her name is embroidered in a banner beneath the cannons. This construction resembles a poster circulated in 1792 after the French Revolution proclaiming “Unite et indivisibilite de la Republique: liberte egalite fraternite ou la mort" 1792” (Unity and indivisibility of the republic: liberty, equality, fraternity, or death).

M W Sutton’s block B3 shows a striped shield flanked by a U.S. flag on each side, surmounted by a Great Seal of Maryland figure topped by a liberty cap. Embroidered flowers and war trumpets sit in the corners, with the name in a banner beneath laurel leaves. M W Sutton probably was Elizabeth Sutton’s father-in-law Pvt. Mordecai Sutton (1779-1865), a veteran of the War of 1812, who fought in the Battle of Baltimore of September 12-15,1814, a crucial point in the war. American troops stopped a land and naval assault on the city during which Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that became our national anthem. As they aged, the battle’s survivors, including Sutton, were known and honored as the “Old Defenders.”

The red calico chains in the sashing appear in other Maryland album quilts, as does the simple vine and bud border.

Debby wrote much more about the genealogy and block imagery in her article for the Baltimore Applique Society's newsletter. You should probably join.

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