During the civil war between the states, women rather than government provided soldiers with clothing and bedding. They made quilts for the men on the lines as well as quilts to sell. The quilts they sold provided money to buy more fabric for badly needed quilts.
But quilt fabric, mainly calico, was expensive and had become harder and harder to find. So, in addition to purchased fabric, all kinds of cloth was used for quilt tops. Men’s clothing, old blankets, carpets, drapes and linings from women's dresses were all put to use. Often, even the wardrobes of men who had died in the war were gathered and reused.
The backing for quilt tops was most often made from sturdy grain and feedsacks. Batting was nearly non-existent so old mattresses were taken apart and used for fillers but more often quilts were stuffed with newspaper. When there was no filler batting to be had, the woolen and heavier clothing making up the quilt tops had to provide the warmth needed for the men in action.Civil War Quilt Blocks:
Basic fabrics and simple block patterns were used for the soldiers’ quilts. The faster a quilt could be produced the better as time was of the essence. Sometimes a quilter would stitch words of encouragement on a quilt block to give a soldier hope and inspiration while he was at war.
Frequently soldiers were buried in their quilts and as a result very few original civil war quilts have survived. Since many of the quilts were made in a hurry and not constructed as well as they could have been, many did not survive the war. It is estimated that women created over 250,000 quilts for the soldiers during the civil war.
(I received comments from two different quilters who told me that though the quilt blocks pictured are very old, they may not be civil war era.)