In 1863 the USSC held its first sanitary fairs, which collected and auctioned donated material. This quilt was crafted by the women of Vernon, Connecticut. Each woman signed a quadrant of the quilt. Note the United States Sanitary Commission stamp.
The quilt was eventually sent to Captain Robert Emmett Fisk of the 132nd New York Infantry Regiment stationed in North Carolina. One of the seamstresses, 16-year-old Fannie Chester, included a note identifying herself and the others who worked on the quilt. Embarrassed when Captain Fisk wrote her, Fannie enlisted the assistance of her older sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s reply to Captain Fisk began a long correspondence which resulted in their eventual engagement and marriage after the war. Robert and Elizabeth’s daughter Florence married Clarence G. White in Berkeley, California in August 1905. Clarence and Florence Fisk White moved to Redlands in 1919, and eleven years later the couple built and gave the Prosellis at the Redlands Bowl to the city.
Most Sanitary Commission quilts did not survive the Civil War, and only a handful is known to exist today. The quilts were employed for a variety of uses under the rough circumstances of the military camps, including being used as shrouds for fallen soldiers when wood for caskets was in short supply. Elizabeth White Dittmar generously donated her grandparents’ quilt to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in 1982.