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Much has been said on this and other sites about how sailors like to embellish things... anything that didn't move smartly (and a few
that DID!) got painted, fancy-worked, carved or modified to make it (prettier, nicer, more seamanlike), according to the whims of the
This carried over at home. The sailor's wife quite often contributed amazing needlework to her (husband's / lover's / sweetheart's)gear
and we have just such an example here.
Presently in the collection of the US Naval Historical Center, it is possibly the finest example of seabag decoration still existing today.
J. A. Fort was at one time a sailor aboard the USS CONGRESS and either he (or, more likely, a wife or sweetheart) embroidered this
amazing seabag with eagles, a picture of the ship and other designs and mottoes. At the time, apparently, this was quite common,
but almost none of the seabags and hammocks so decorated have survived, and certainly none is this superb condition. The
fancywork on the lanyard rivals the quality of the embroidery, making this a truly incredible survivor of that period of time. It is just so
implausible that this should have survived some hundred and sixty-odd years! The seabag is dated between 1842 (commissioning
of CONGRESS) and 1862 (destroyed in action March 8th by the CSS VIRGINA [formerly the USS MERRIMACK] the day before the USS
MONITOR steamed into Hampton Roads to commence their famous battle.)
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