Daily Archives: August 18, 2019

Civil War Sampler #11: Blockade

My 11th Civil War Sampler block is Blockade.

Blockade, completed February 22, 2019

Blockade, completed February 22, 2019

The North setup a blockade of ships all around southern seaports to try to cut off the South from their important maritime trade connections (both bringing supplies in and shipping goods out, such as cotton to Europe). So having that cut off (or at least hindered, because of course there were always the blockade-runners!) caused many hardships for southerners (both civilians and soldiers).

The story in the quilt book (and also on Brackman’s blog) comes from the memoir of a woman who lived in Alabama during the Civil War and talks about what they had to do to keep shoes on their feet.

But when I thought of “the blockade,” the first thing that came to my mind was the massive seaport at Charleston, South Carolina. I later (in writing this post) found the following illustration, published in Harper’s Weekly, 1861 Sept. 21, and made available online by Library of Congress, that shows “The Blockade of Charleston:

“The Blockade of Charleston,” Harper’s Weekly, 1861 Sept. 21, made available online by Library of Congress

(Believe it or not, the ship on the left is apparently named “Vandalia,” which is also the name of a city where I previously lived. Weird.)

You can learn more about the blockade at Charleston specifically in the Charleston Post and Courier‘s “Charleston at War: Charleston harbor key blockade target” (2011 Feb 5) and the South Carolina Encyclopedia‘s article about blockade-running. (After skimming through the latter article, I suppose that I should start thinking of Wilmington, North Carolina, first in these situations: “Charleston was the second-most-active port in the Confederacy (Wilmington, North Carolina, was first).”)

Anyhow, getting back to my quilt square. I had a heck of a time picking colors for this one. I’m not typically great with the symbolism thing. (I also like poetry to rhyme and/or at least make really good logical sense—if I like it at all.) And so the first thing that came to my mind with this block and all its…sort of…nested…layers of triangles…was to recreate the image of, I guess, an island, surrounded by water: so, green and flowery in the center, something resembling sand outside of that, and blues around the outside for the water.

Here are some of the fabrics I considered:

Fabric stash musics for Blockade

Fabric stash musics for Blockade

When I couldn’t find anything in my stash that did this the way I wanted (finding a green I liked with any blue I had was especially problematic), I guess I got a little symbolically whimsical, and I am pleasantly surprised at the results. (I was really afraid this thing was going to turn out horrible and full of clash!)

Let’s look at that square again:

Blockade, completed Feb 22, 2019

Blockade, completed Feb 22, 2019

The red did a good job of representing all kinds of things, especially the “heart” of the southerners and also the little puffs look like cotton (and a little like hearts in some cases); also could be blood and fighting and suffering.

Then, the blue with the little…leaves?…well, I thought those could sort of look like the sails of ships, the Union blockade ships, and hey the Union uniforms were blue, too! And with a print like that, I try to be particular about which way the design is pointed, like in this case, I wanted all the sails “pointing up.” Although, it probably would have been better for the southerners if I’d turned some of them upside-down (although I am a Yankee, so…).

The red cotton puffs are sort of doing battle with the blue leaf-sail-ships both out in the ocean (the outer-most triangles) and also (figuratively) on the in-land as folks struggle to get the goods they need, to figure out how or if they can send their crops out to trade, etc.

And then, less symbolically, we have all the different variations of tan in between, as the “sandy” beach bits. The innermost brown/tan with the flowers on it looked like something that would be more in-land (like crops or flowers or what-have-y0u—-this is where I really wanted a green like grass but nothing looked good). And then the other two light tans- the one with the very pale dots was more like sand to me, and the one with the reedy leaves I thought kind of looked like the reeds or seaweed or plants you might find on or near the beach. (This coming from someone who has lived in the Midwest their entire life and only been to the ocean about a dozen times, so…)

The only other thing that jumps to mind about this block was…”Holy triangles, Batman!” This thing has 24 triangles in it, of various sizes. There was a lot of staring at the thing, trying to figure the best direction to iron each seam and also which piece(s) to attach next.


My “supervisor” judging my triangle seams, when he wasn’t walking on them, or stalking a bug in the lights.

See you next time!

Note: This post was actually composed in March 2019, much closer (than usual) to the time when the block was created – I didn’t want to forget all my thoughts when doing this one, which had a lot more “thoughts” than the others! But I kept it in draft until the posts for the earlier blocks were done as well.