A Civil War Story: April 14

Even though the Civil War started over a 150 years ago, many of our families still pass down some of the stories and some of the artifacts that held so much meaning for them in those terrible times. Few were untouched by it. Sorrow hovered.

Quilts always tell stories and so do the Quilts of the Civil War. We count ourselves fortunate in our 24 Blocks quilting community that one of our frequent contributors, Becky Erdman of Vermont, has been able to share with us a family quilt that dates back to those days. It has a story. And it is is headed to the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

307389_4830795261308_416169463_n Civil War quilt, circa 1860, by Mary Wood

The story starts in 1862 in what is now West Virginia. Mary Wood was just 22 years of age. Her father, Robert Wood, was a soldier in the Virginia Infantry and he was coming home. When he left for the war Mary started this quilt in the anticipation of his eventual return. He was wounded in the Second Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Second Battle of Manassas. He had been discharged from the hospital and was on his way back to his family. He did make him home, but never recovered. He died shortly thereafter.

Mary’s design shows her immense talent. The quilt passed to her younger sister, Harriet, who had been born shortly after their father left for war. She was only about 18 months old when he died. Harriet was Beckyís Great-Grandmother.

The quilt is a triple ìIrish Ringî. The fabrics are all soft cottons, red and green on a white background.

Beckyís ancestors had helped settle and establish Berkeley, West Virginia. Family names include Stuckeys, Granthams and Woods. Quilts over the entire span of that time have helped tell their stories.

The Virginia Quilt Museum is well known for its Civil War Gallery including a focus on ìThe Women Who Stayed Behindî. It has over 300 quilts in its permanent collection covering all types of quilts including modern examples. New exhibits change frequently.


Becky began quilting in the 1980ís. As our readers at 24 Blocks know, she is an artist in textiles. Her work has been shown at the Memphremagog Arts Gallery in Newport, Vermont and have won multiple Blue Ribbons at Vermont county fairs. Her use of applique and threading techniques make her quilts unique while respecting the traditions of five generations of quilters.

Weíd like to thank Becky for sharing her work with us and for telling us this story. It touches all our hearts. We mark, to a great deal, our lives and our history in what we make and what we pass on.

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