Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt - the Blocks!

Today I am showing you each of the blocks in the Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt - in no particular order.  Just a little bit about each one.  This is as the blocks were, prior to quilting and prior to the borders being added on.

Ready?!!?  This is reeeeeeeeeally photo-heavy, so please bear with me!  Oh!  One more thing, before I get started ... if anyone would like to add any more info about a particular unit or has any corrections on my research, please leave a comment or email me at  Thanks!  Oh!  And just a reminder that anything in a different colored font is a hyperlink; please click for more info!

First up - a Brigadier General's flag:

DSCN1886 Brigadier General Officer's flag

Click here to see an example of one of these flags in a historic photo.  These flags were the precursors to the General Officers flags in use today.

I added some miscellaneous fabrics around it - and a little saw tooth border there on the left, to echo the shape of the pennant.

Next up, General JEB Stuart's flag:

DSCN1887 General JEB Stuart's flag

As I mentioned, it was the first block I made for the quilt.  Fitting, as the first high school I attended was named in honor of the Confederate Cavalryman.  I seem to have an odd connection to him - he attended West Point, I lived there as a kid when my dad taught there; prior to the Civil War he was stationed out here at Fort Riley, I've lived there 3 times (once as a brat, twice as an Army wife); the high school connection and living in Virginia; and during the War, he burned the town of Carlisle, PA down -- the second high school I attended was in Carlisle.  Just an interesting way of following a historic figure.  (I do not condone the burning of Carlisle, by the way...)

OK.  I added a few "logs" around the flag.  I was just warming up my creative spirit with that one.

Next, the 4/4 Cavalry!

DSCN1888 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry

For more info on the 4th Cavalry, please click here.

I did some framing around the guidon and added a few Hourglass blocks above.  Like with the General Officers Flag, I like how the shape of the Hourglass repeats the "V" notch in the guidon.

Next up, the 22nd Regiment, Arkansas Infantry:

DSCN1889 22nd Regiment, Arkansas Infantry

I found some great info on this unit here.  The names of the battles in which the unit fought would have been added most likely after the War - certainly a good deal of time after they fought those battles.  Today, rather than embroidering the names of the battles won on the flag, units are awarded battle streamers.

I added the checkerboard beneath the flag and the equilateral triangle border around the corner of the flag. Note the change in the light blocks in the checkerboard.  Did you notice before I mentioned it?

Here is the guidon for the 11th Corps Headquarters:

DSCN1894 11th Corps Headquarters guidon

According to my research, General Orders 10 of the Army of the Potomac instructed that all headquarters flags were to be changed to blue swallow-tailed guidons with white Maltese crosses and the corps number in red numerals in the center.

This block is actually one of my faves.  I added a couple strips of fabric underneath the guidon, plus that "triangle of triangles" in the lower right-hand corner.  Those parts were left over from the Hourglass Blocks up in the 4/4 Cav block.  Above the guidon are some Fence Rail blocks.  They're so messed up - and I think that's why I like them.  For any other quilt, I would have tossed them, or at least ripped out the stitching and started over, but I like them "wonky" for this quilt.  My thought with adding Fence Rail blocks was to represent the Split Rail Fences so often seen on the Civil War battlefields.  And... if you think about it, those fences certainly got a bit wonky, so err... that's why my blocks are.  (Is anyone buying that?)

Here's the mystery flag:

DSCN1901 Unknown unit guidon

I've simply put it as an unknown unit guidon.  "Guidon" because of the notched "V".  "Unknown" because neither my husband nor I can find it anywhere.  I have my doubts about this being an actual battle flag, but that's the cynic in me talking  writing.  If anyone can help me out here, I would greatly appreciate it!

I added some "logs" and the checkerboard at the bottom.  And yes, I cut the checkerboard off over on the left because.  I was going to make it to fit, but this actually pleased my inner schnigglefritz.

Next up is a small Confederate battle flag:

DSCN1903 Confederate Battle Flag/Army of Northern Virginia

In my research, I found the following about the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag or Confederate Battle Flag: Because the colors that different commands and regiments carried on the field were a major means of identification, local commanders designed special battle flags to distinguish units during battles. The most famous of these Confederate Battle flags was that of the Army of Northern Virginia. The famous "Southern Cross" design was born when Southern Congressman William Miles suggested the design to General Beauregard, who took it to the army's commander General Johnston. The first battle flag was made in September of 1861 by Hettie, Jennie, and Constance Cary of Richmond.

If I had a Bloodhound or perhaps even a Basset Hound, I would have to name him Beauregard.  I just thought I'd let you know.

I added a little 4-Patch above the flag and over to the right some Cotton Boll blocks, as I mentioned in an earlier post.  I like the connection between cotton and the South - plus the "X" in the Cotton Boll block repeats the Southern Cross.

This was General Lee's Headquarters flag:

DSCN1892 General Lee's Headquarters flag

This flag was used between June of 1962 and the summer of 1863. It has an unusual star arrangement that was believed to have been designed by his wife Mary to reflect the Biblical Arch of the Covenant. The original flag was allegedly hand-made by Mary Custis and their daughters.  Very cool!  It is similar to my "unknown" flag above ... so I wonder if that one is a guidon for a Southern unit?  Hmmm...

Simple borders around that flag - including my favorite bird on the right.  The look on his face makes me smile.

I totally mis-IDed this one at first:

DSCN1893 4th Missouri Infantry Regiment

I thought the crescent would represent a unit from New Orleans (The Crescent City) or maybe from South Carolina - they used the crescent and Palmetto a lot in their flags.  But no!  It is the flag from the 4th Missouri Infantry Regiment - also known as the Van Dorn flag.  According to my research, when General Earl Van Dorn was assigned a Corps in the Army of the West in the trans-Mississippi theater, he personally designed this type flag for his command. Known as a "Van Dorn flag," it saw use until after the fall of Vicksburg in the west.  When General Van Dorn became Commander of the Army of the West in 1862 his flag came with him. Arriving too late to fight at Shiloh, Van Dorn's troops began adopting this flag in June, with the first issues (with slightly different star pattern and fringed edges) going to the Missouri Brigade. In August, the rest of the army received these flags which first saw use at Iuka and Corinth where some examples were captured. The crescent is taken from the Missouri state Coat of Arms was was designed to inspire Missouri troops as they crossed east of the Mississippi River.

I added an Indian Hatchet block under the flag (on the right), some strips of fabric going every which way, and then in the lower left-hand corner, a Dutchman's Puzzle block.  You know - the name Van Dorn and "Dutchman"?  I get very strange ideas when I'm on the treadmill sometimes.

Just look at the center and right side of this photo (I should have zoomed in closer!):

DSCN1895 47th Regiment North Carolina Volunteers

That's the flag for the 47th Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers.  There is some great info about that regiment at this link.

That has the honors of being the last block I made for the quilt.  By that time, I was trying to work in little bits of some of the fabs that needed repeating.  I balanced the deep purple and the brownish prints with the medium blue and the light checked - I didn't want it to be too heavy of a block!  The lighter prints are playing together in the upper right-hand corner and came together as tiny Hourglass Blocks.

This flag represents the 9th Massachusetts Battery.

DSCN1896 9th Massachusetts Battery

There is a little info on that Artillery battery and some photos of monuments erected in its honor at this link.

I added some stripes to the left and top of the guidon - and Cannonball Blocks at the bottom.  Yes.  Cannonballs.  Because it's an Artillery unit.  Blame that one on the treadmill, too, if you must!

Here is the flag from the "Florida Independent Blues":

DSCN1897 3rd Florida Infantry, Co. B, " Florida Independent Blues"

There is a great unit history of the 3rd Florida Infantry, Company B at this link.  I found the postcard at the Haversack Store extremely interesting.  It so closely resembles the flag printed on my fabric that I have to wonder if that's the image they used in the printing process.  Right down to almost cutting the unit motto off at the bottom.

I put a row of Flying Geese along both the top and the bottom, and sprinkled in a little checkerboard along the right-hand side.

Does anyone else need to take a break?  Maybe go grab some coffee?  Iced Tea?  Diet Coke with Lime?  How about some jelly beans?  OK, I'll settle for Iced Tea.  And I'll try not to be so verbose.

What's next?

DSCN1900 2nd US Artillery Regiment

It's the 2nd US Artillery Regiment.  Here is a link to some great photos; the first one is the Regiment at Gettysburg!

I put an Ohio Star in the upper left corner.  I wanted something a little larger, as the flag is so small, and I wanted to work an Ohio Star in here somewhere, since my hubby is from Ohio.

Here is the guidon for the 1st US Cavalry:

DSCN1905 1st US Cavalry guidon

Underneath the guidon, are two Kansas Dugout Blocks.  Since nearby (to me) Fort Riley was once home to the US Cavalry School, I thought it would be nice to group a Kansas-y block in with a Cavalry flag.

Let's move on.  Here is the battle flag for the 20th New York Volunteer Cavalry:

DSCN1904 20th New York Volunteer Cavalry

To read more about the unit and its service in the Civil War, please click here.

I built a Variable Star around the flag, then put a saw tooth border off to the right.  A tiny, baby-tooth saw tooth border.  What was I thinking?!?!

More artillery!

DSCN1902 1st US Artillery Battery

The flag above represents a battery in the 1st US Artillery.  It looks like L Battery to me, but in reading the history of the unit, it doesn't look like L Battery was at Gettysburg.  Don't get me started.

I got caught up in the "L", so I thought I'd repeat that form in the way of saw tooth borders.  On the Left there.

This next block contains two flags.  They are unrelated, except that they're both from New York units.  I just had to double up on one block -- you know, 19 flags don't really make for a good layout, but 18 blocks do.

DSCN1898 13th New York Cavalry AND H Company, 1st Engineers, New York State Veteran's Volunteers

In the upper left is the standard for the 13th New York Cavalry; beneath that is the battle flag for H Company, 1st Engineers, New York State Veteran's Volunteers.  To read more about "veteran volunteers", please click here.

The Cavalry flag has stripes off to one side.  I thought I should build something around the 1st Engineer flag, so I used it as the center in a Log Cabin block.  I thought it was a good fit.

This LAST block (is anyone still out there?) is built around the flag from the Commonwealth of Virginia:

DSCN1891 Commonwealth of Virginia

Many units used their state flag to rally them into battle - as in this case!  Who was at Gettysburg from Virginia?  Maybe a better question would be "who wasn't?"  Click here to see a laundry list of the units there; you'll see what I mean!  That flag could have represented any of those units.

I told you a bit about this block in an earlier post.  The flag itself is surrounded by saw tooth borders and there is a partial checkerboard along the bottom.  Call them 4-patches if you'd like.

SO!  Those are all the blocks and either links to more about the units behind the flags or a little info about them.  Sorry to cram it all into one post, but I thought I'd save up and just put it all out there in one felled swoop!  Any more info, corrections, or comments are welcome!

To those readers I haven't lost - many, many thanks for reading!


  1. I'm glad you don't condone the burning of Carlisle. I never knew about that. We sure lived in a cool place...
    This is terrific reporting work (and writing.) You've done a wonderful job of backing up the excellent work on your quilt.

  2. I'm still here! And I like General JEB's flag the most. I don't condone the burning of anything, however.

  3. Very interesting information on your quilt! Beauregard would certainly fit a Basset or Bloodhound better than a Sibe!

  4. Every single block is a work of art! It's just beautiful!

  5. This is beautiful and I pinned it to my Pinterest board so others may enjoy it too. You did an amazing job with all of that work!


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