Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2011 Sesquicentennial of the Start of the American Civil War

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago, The United States of America saw the beginning of its greatest threat to its existence as a unified country … the People vs. the People. 

What name did you call it in your area of the USA?
  • the Civil War
  • the War Against Northern Aggression
  • the War of the Rebellion
  • the War Between the States
  • the Second American Revolution
  • the War Between Brothers
  • the Late Unpleasantness
  • the War of Attempted Secession (Walt Whitman)
  • the War Against the States (Conf Gen’l Joseph Johnston)
  • or something else?
The American Civil War was both bloody and costly – it was fought in 10,000 places, from New Mexico and Tennessee to Vermont and Florida. More than 3 million Americans fought in it, and over 600,000 men, (2 percent of the population) died in it.

The State of South Carolina led the way by seceding from the Union on December 20, 1860 and six more States rapidly followed.  They had been outraged over Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, the taxation of cotton exports, fugitive slave laws and the issue of slavery in the Territories, plus the government’s failure to withdraw from the Federal fort in Charleston, SC.  Their right to secede was hotly debated and the Congress’ right to declare and make war on any State was legally disputed.

After the bombardment of Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina on April 12, 1861, and Lincoln's subsequent call for troops to put down the rebellion, more States seceded forming the Confederate States of America - united under the cause of States’ Rights.

South Carolina – 12/20/1860
Mississippi – 01/09/1861
Florida – 01/10/1861
Alabama  – 01/11/1861
Georgia – 01/19/1861
Louisiana – 01/26/1861
Texas – 02/01/1861 – Ratified by the voters of Texas  – 02/23/1861
Virginia – 04/17/1861 – Ratified by the voters of VA  – 05/23/1861
Arkansas – 05/06/1861
North Carolina – 05/20/1861
Tennessee – 05/06/1861 – Ratified by the voters of TN  – 06/08/1861
Missouri – 10/31/1861
Kentucky – 11/20/1861

What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States' Rights was not to end until four long, hard years later in April 1865 as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America.  Finally, slaves were free men and the Union was preserved.

The best quote I found, by far, was this one by Paul on his site:
   “Our wounds have yet to fully heal, and they will not fully heal until we all come to terms with who we are.  Our heritage; where we came from, who we are, and what we seek to become.  We are all Sons of the South.  Where do we go from here?”

What Was the Role of Women in the Civil War?
1862 Harpers Weekly Newsletter

The above photo captures images of some of the important contributions of women during the War, including nursing, writing letters for the wounded, sewing quilts and clothing, and washing clothes and linens.

What is not pictured are women as spies (such as Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a dedicated secessionist and Sarah E. Thompson, provider of Union intelligence) and a depiction of the more than 600 women that disguised themselves as men in order to fight in the war.

More information about the women of the Civil War - biographies and stories about how they lived, what they did to survive and how they fought for women's rights - can be found on this wonderful blog:  http://www.civilwarwomenblog.com/

For quilters today, we can strongly relate to the needs for quilts and comfort in our own country and around the world.  And isn’t it ironic that we are again (or is that still?) watching the rising costs of cotton.
Harper’s Weekly Sep 6, 1862

I have several suggestions for sources that might be of interest to quilters:

The first is my recommendation for “Best Civil War Blocks On-Line”:

Every week during 2011, Barbara Brackman will present a free 8” block design along with true stories of individuals who lived during the period, drawing on diaries, letters and memoirs.  The block designs began Jan 1, 2011 and will stay up all year once posted.

The Civil War and that era’s quilts and fabrics have long been Barbara’s area of special interest.  She has designed reproduction fabrics for Moda Fabrics at United Notions – the most recent line is named Civil War Reunion.  See a pdf file of this beautiful fabric line at this link or at the Moda site above:

Blocks posted to date have included Catch Me If You Can, North Star, Seven Sisters, Texas Tears and Log Cabin among others.  The stories have been fascinating.

The second recommendation is for the “Best Pattern Books to Purchase”. 

I suggest two books by Kathleen Tracy of Country Lane Quilts.  Her blog is called Sentimental Quilter.

The Civil War Sewing Circle
In this wonderful book, Kathleen  tells of the role that women and quilting played at the time of the Civil War.  It has 16 projects, historical photos and excerpts from letters to and from soldiers.

Remembering Adelia
Another fascinating look back at the Civil War era.  This time as seen through the eyes of a young woman and her diary entries about daily life on a farm in Illinois in 1861.  Both large and doll-size quilt patterns were designed by Kathleen (as inspired by the diary entries).

A beautiful Civil War era quilt is in the American History Collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  It has a fascinating history with its personalization and embedded symbols.  What  a remarkable contribution women have always made through quilting!
1863 Susannah Pullen’s Civil War Quilt
In 1940 Eugene Teter donated to the Museum this patriotic quilt made by his great-grandmother in 1861 for his grandfather, a Union soldier from Indiana. Mary Rockhold Teter based her pieced and appliquéd quilt on a design published in the July 1861 issue of Peterson's Magazine , a popular women's periodical published in Philadelphia. She personalized it by quilting the name of her son, George Teter, and the names of Generals Scott and Taylor under whom he served. Also found in the quilting are "Abe "and "Ab Lyncoln," "Genral Lyon," the word "Cat" and the year "1861." There are thirty-four stars appliquéd in the center diamond and the same number appliquéd in the border. They represent the number of states in the Union from July 4, 1861 until July 4, 1863, the Civil War years.

Additional Sources for more information:

  1. The Civil War Homepage - one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Civil War related material available on the Internet;  http://www.civil-war.net/
  2. The Public Broadcasting Company (PBS) sponsor of Ken Burns documentary “The Civil War”;  http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/film/

No comments: