When the 2014 AQSG Quilt Study “Civil War Quilts: 1850 – 1865” was announced, I knew I would have to look beyond the quilts I owned or could readily access. Not knowing where else to start, I went through the list of museums in the greater Dallas Fort Worth area, noting those that included the Civil War era. To my surprise I discovered the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth. The museum includes both Union and Confederate artifacts, and to my delight several quilts which are owned by the Texas Division United Daughters of the Confederacy.
One quilt in particular caught my attention: “A Soldier’s Blanket”. This belonged to Lieutenant Jesse Russell Youree of Company E 34th Texas Cavalry at Bonham, Texas. Serving in the Trans-Mississippi Army, he was captured at the Battle of Yellow Bayou and spent time in a Union prison prior to returning to his regiment. Lt. Youree carried this quilt during the war. According to family tradition, this was the replacement quilt for an earlier one which had been put under cannon wheels to help pull them from the mud.
“A Soldier’s Blanket” measures 53” x 60” and consists of 56 approximately 7½” x 7½” “blocks.” It was made using wool fabrics, including numerous pieces of what appear to be two different “butternut” Confederate uniform fabrics. The quilt is entirely sewn by hand, apparently by more than one person as the stitches are not uniform. The quilt is constructed using an unusual “quilt-as-you-go” method, with squares of fabric folded in half to form triangles, stuffed with cotton and whip-stitched together. Each unit consists of four squares of fabrics, and the blocks consist of four units sewn together into a pattern referred to as “Broken Dishes”, “A Simple Quilt Block” and “The Double Square” in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, although this quilt predates any of the references given.
I was inspired to draw a design using a different, more organized color scheme than the original scrappy quilt: “butternut,” gray and blue of the Civil War-era uniforms, with red and gold accents as appeared on some of the officers’ uniforms. After struggling with the construction method of the original quilt, and gaining a much greater appreciation for the skills of the quilt maker(s), I modified it to make this study quilt. I did, however, retain the original pattern I had designed.