Maine Voices from the Civil War

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Exceptional Belfast Quilt Now on Exhibit

A very special Civil War flag quilt made in Belfast, Maine is now on view in the Maine Voices from the Civil War exhibit.

During one month in the summer of 1864, the Ladies Volunteer Aid Society of the First Church of Belfast sewed a remarkably detailed and personalized quilt. They sent it to the Armory Square Hospital in Washington D. C., where it was displayed as an inspirational piece to honor the wounded soldiers. The quilt's 22 makers signed it and filled every white stripe and square with slogans, puns, and statements of support such as "Hurrah for the boys of the Pine Tree State!" or "A good cause makes a stout heart." The women also included the words "Belfast, Maine 1864" and the names of battles in which Maine soldiers fought.

The quilt disappeared after the Civil War when the hospital closed. Amazingly, it resurfaced 146 years later when the Belfast Historical Society received a call from a woman in Lewistown, Montana. The woman had traced the quilt back to Belfast, Maine and generously contacted the historical society to arrange for the quilt's return "home."

Historical society members later learned that the quilt had gone West with Eugenie Bliss, the daughter of the Armory Square Hospital's chief surgeon. Her Montana descendants kept it for 130 years, but inadvertently discarded it. Another Montana resident later rescued it from a burn barrel and stored it safely until 2011.

The Belfast Historical Society and Museum has kindly lent this extraordinary quilt with its fascinating story to the Maine State Museum. It will be on view until late May 2014.

In the photo above, museum intern Kyle Spear (left) works with collections manager Natalie Liberace to prepare the Belfast flag quilt for display in Maine Voices from the Civil War.