This week in the Civil War for June 29, 1864
Letter from the Rock Island prison

Making Havelocks for the Volunteers

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During the four years he spent documenting the Civil War for Harper’s Weekly, Winslow Homer also depicted the war’s effect on those back at home. Two months after the conflict broke out, he highlighted the domestic role of women in this illustration of a sewing circle in which respectable young women diligently sew uniforms and attach havelocks (sun-shielding coverings) to the back of military hats. Though the image seems to be one of tranquillity and comfort, the ladies’ somber expressions hint at the emotional restraint exercised at this urgent and uncertain time. The large flag at right and the portrait of the soldier at left suggest both the patriotic and personal devotion behind the women’s work.

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