Sunday, September 22, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - Late September 1863 - Hunter's Star

This block is not one prescribed by Barbara Brackman's Dixie Diary series. It is known as Hunter's Star, and I chose it in honor of the 82nd Indiana's colonel, Morton C. Hunter.

I have always been interested in this block.  It is usually made in just two fabrics because when the blocks are set together, block-to-block,  the stars form at every intersection, as seen in this 3x3 block "quilt" I made in software:

It is a rather intricately pieced blocks with those many trapezoid shapes. I made my job slightly easier by sizing the block to finish at 8 inches, instead of the 6 inches I have been making the blocks of this Dixie Diary series.

With the Hunter's Star block I chose to remember Colonel (later Brigadier General) Hunter, who was a lawyer and later a U.S. Representative from Indiana, because of the role he played during the battle 150 years ago.

From Wikipedia:  ".... when Confederate Gen. Longstreet routed the right wing of the Army of the Cumberland, Hunter on his own initiative was the first officer to form a new position on Horseshoe ridge that was to become the line that saved the army from destruction. His commanding officer John Connell wrote of Hunter's stubborn resistance on that ridge 'which truly and most fortunately changed the fortunes of that disastrous day, and saved the army from worse than defeat.'"

I blogged about the 82nd's role in the Battle of Chickamauga on our joint blog a few years ago, with photos from our visit to the battlefield that can be see at this link.  There are no published letters from Billy during the entire month of September, but  I know that my great grandfather John was among the soldiers who held the line on Snodgrass Hill against the onslaughts by the Confederates all afternoon with no food or water. We do have a first-hand account of the events of September 19th and 20th as seen by the members of Company B that Billy and John were in, written by A. W. Brown in letters to his wife dated the 22nd, 150 years ago today.  At the time of his writing, Brown and the other men were waiting for another attack by the Confederates that never came.  He assured his wife they had plenty of rations and ammunition, so he thought they would be able to hold them.  He reported that the Rebels got all their knapsacks and oil cloths and blankets and dog-tents, but he was able to get more blankets and he and my great-grandfather John managed to get a tent, though not many others in the company had them.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Civil war Block of the Month - September 1863 - The Hands of Strangers

I'm glad the block this one was an interesting one.  It seems to be a variation on the Uneven Nine Patch, with the split in the center making it different. Barbara Brackman added that detail to symbolize the break in our Southern diarist Sarah Morgan's family life, with a Union officer living in the family home.

But September marks the beginning of the end of the war for the Army of the Cumberland and my ancestors. We'll start with a letter from Shep at Fort Pillow.

Shep tells his brother and sister in a letter dated in September (the exact date is not legible) that his visit home did him good, "for I have been hearty since I left home as ever I was." there has been a "good deal" of sickness in the Regiment however., mostly ache or chills and fever.  He hopes to get another month at home before long. Shep believes they will be able to "use up" the Rebs this fall and winter.  Black men, women and children have been "coming in so fast as ever."  Shep moved a group of 58 of them to Island Tennessee. Shep took another group of black men, soldiers, to Columbus, Kentucky, also on the Mississippi River.

The 52nd Regiment left Fort Pillow on September 6th, 1863, to march to Missouri to pursue Confederate Major General Sterling Price's forces.

Meanwhile, a long way to the east of the Mississippi, September, 1863 provided the moment for John, Billy and the 82nd Indiana to prove themselves.

The 82nd finished their crossing of the Tennessee River on September 2nd. They used make-shift rafts, which could not carry fully loaded wagons so it was slow going. They set up camp to wait for more provisions, then marched through Hog Jaw Valley to Raccoon Mountain.  They kept moving, south to Trenton, then turned east.

Billy wrote to his sister from camp in Lookout Valley Georgia, near Chattanooga on September 9th. He doesn't have time to tell the full history of the march from Tennessee but he "came through alright. Enjoyed myself fine all the way through and am fat and hearty now, ready to go ahead." He is anxious to meet up with the Rebels but interrupts this train of thought to talk about a dream in which he was at home on a furlough of two days - a great aggravation as the time would be over before he could see all of the family.

On September 11th, the 82nd moved to cross Lookout Moutain in support of General Negley's Division at McLemore's Cove. It was slow but they arrived on the 13th and advanced two miles to Chickamauga Creek, camping east of Lee's mill. On the 17th, they guarded the four fords between Gower's and Pond Spring. From there, the entire Corps moved to Crawfish Spring, then Chattanooga and La Fayette Road, marching all night to reach Kelly's Farm by daylight on the 19th.  The Northern and Southern armies were trying to beat each other to Chattanooga, and came together where the main roads meet at Chickamauga Creek.

The 82nd's role at the Battle of Chickamauga was extensive, so I'll save it for another post later in the month.