In 1862 the men of Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania, rally to answer Mr. Lincoln’s call to arms, spurring the women of the Elm Creek Valley into their own battle to preserve the nation.
Dorothea Granger, dismayed by her scholarly husband’s bleak descriptions of food shortages and illness in the soldiers’ camps, marshals her friends to “wield their needles for the Union” and provide for the men’s needs. Anneke Bergstrom’s pacifist husband does not enlist, but his safety becomes her shame—one that compels her to work ceaselessly for the Union cause to prove her family’s loyalty. A gifted writer committed to hastening the end of the war, Gerda Bergstrom takes on local southern sympathizers in the pages of the Water’s Ford Register, risking the wrath of the Copperhead press—and the jealous wife of the regimental surgeon she loves.
While the women work, hope, and pray at home, the men they love confront loneliness, boredom, and harrowing danger on the bloody battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Anxious for news, the women share precious letters around the quilting circle, drawing strength and comfort from one another as they witness from afar the suffering and deprivation their husband, brothers, sons, and sweethearts must endure. It falls to the Union Quilters to provide for the soldiers, run farms and businesses, and protect their homes and families when the Confederate army threatens the Elm Creek Valley. Their new independence will forever alter the patchwork of town life—in ways that transcend even the ultimate sacrifices of war.
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