Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WWI - December - Heavenly Puzzle

This is the last block in this series.

All the red and blue fabrics in this interesting block are from Vicki Welsh.  I used foundation paper piecing for the four corners which helped keep the points sharp.  

I'm going to miss working on this series  even the leaves.  After a few months, I knew the whole rhythm and allotted the time for the applique, never trying to get the entire block done in a day so I didn't find that job as tedious as I did in the beginning. 

Service records for the majority of our WWI veterans were burned in a fire in at the Federal Records storage facility in St. Louis in the 1970's, so precise information on my four great-uncles who served is unfortunately not as easy to come by as for Civil War veterans. Their tombstones list their units, though without much precision.  There is information about the Army's organization and where the elements served available at Federal libraries scattered around the country.  The University of North Carolina Asheville is supposed to be one of those places where the public can access that information, so that will be a project for me, perhaps before I get the quilt completed. As it is right now, I'm not sure any of the uncles actually shipped out to Europe.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Threads of Memory - December 1864

This month's Rochester Star block is a nine-patch star on point giving us interesting shapes for the corners -

I enjoyed picking the fabrics and making this block, the last in Barbara Brackman's Threads of Memory series. Next year, she is doing something completely different so I'll have to choose my own blocks to go with family Civil War history from 150 years ago.

Sherman's army's March to the Sea  ended on the 21st of December when they captured the port of Savannah.  The 82nd's regimental historian recorded that in the latter part of the march, they went through mostly flooded rice fields. There was a lot of work in making corduroy roads for the troops and their wagons to pass over the water. By the time they were laying in for the siege, their supply train had nothing left, only foraged rice to sustain them.  He commented that the horses seemed to like the rice better than the men.  The rebel army did not surrender but departed Savannah on the night of the 20th. Sherman's troops had left a 40-50 mile wide track of desolation behind them, and the 82nd suffered no casualties on the campaign.  They enjoyed plenty to eat once they were in camp.  An undated letter from Billy to his sister Carrie says, "We have a firstrate good little house and a good fireplace in it.... We have had no cold weather here to amount to anything. The ice has been 1/4 of an inch thick 3 or 4 mornings." Billy reminds his sister he has but 7 months left to serve as he closes his letter.

I do not have a letter from Eli with the 52nd Indiana to my great-grandfather Calvin from this time in  1864, but, like his November letter, there was one published in Rodger Ruddick's book.  Eli wrote on the 11th of December from Nashville, Tennessee, full of questions about life at home. He asks about the pumpkin crop in Indiana, saying "When we were in Missouri, we had stewed pumpkins several times, but it is played out with us now." He wishes he were back in Indiana to eat buckwheat cakes and molasses, but he doesn't think he'll be there any time soon. Calvin must have told him about going to dances because Eli would have gone too. Then he tells Calvin a prayer from their nights out on raid in Missouri:  "Every time I lay down to sleep, the greybacks all around me creep, and if they bite before I wake, I hope by God their jaws they break." Later he describes current conditions: ".. we are suffering with the cold very bad and the wood is getting very scarce near camp. I don't know what we will do in a few days if the weather still keeps cold, we will freeze, I grief, but I live in hopes of a better time coming."