Confederate postage, 1861-65

January 21, 1861 – Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate.  By November of that same year he would be elected president of the Confederate States of America, just 7 months after Confederate soldiers attacked Union troops at Ft. Sumter, South Carolina marking the beginning of the American Civil War.

During the first seven weeks of the Civil War, the US Post Office still delivered mail from the seceded states. Mail that was postmarked after the date of a state’s admission into the Confederacy through May 31, 1861, and bearing U.S. (Union) postage is deemed to represent ‘Confederate State Usage of U.S. Stamps’. i.e., Confederate covers franked with Union stamps.  After this time, private express companies still managed to carry the mail across enemy lines. The three major express companies in operation throughout the south were Adams Express, American Letter Express, and Whiteside’s Express. They had been operating freely for approximately two months when the U.S. Post Office ordered an end to such traffic, effective August 26, 1861. Mail destined to states that were not among their own unions now had to be sent by Flag of Truce, although some express companies still continued to run their mail operations illegally; Adams continued its Southern operations under a nominally-separate Southern Express Company, in actuality a subsidiary. Mail was also smuggled in and out by blockade-running ships—which, however, were often captured or destroyed by Union ships on blockade patrol. Because Confederate post offices existed for only a few years and official and informal records of them are lacking, relatively little is known about their operations in many regions of the South.

I submit for your inspection the first issue of the Confederate Post Office in October 1861, a 5-cent stamp bearing the image of Jefferson Davis.

Jefferson Davis - 1861

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