The Lost Letters (Part 3)
Trivia: Jefferson Davis was the first living president depicted on an American postage stamp.
Background posts: Introduction, Part 2, The Rebels and the U.S. Post Office.
The Confederate Post Office was established in February 1861, and in early March, John H. Reagan, a firebrand Texan, was named as the Confederacy’s first (and only) Postmaster General. For the first few months of the war, regular mail between the North and South continued using private express delivery companies, before finally being suspended on June 1. A few outfits continued to smuggle mail for some time thereafter, although formal mail service between the warring states could only be done via a formal flag of truce.
Official Confederate stamps were printed by various companies in the South, although 12 million were printed in London by the venerable firm of De La Rue, which is still involved today in postal and security printing applications. Confederate postage was initially a nickel, but, by the Gettysburg Campaign, had risen to a dime. Delivery went to a town’s post office, where the recipient had to pick it up. Street delivery to a specific address was an extra charge and not commonly requested. Under Reagan’s astute leadership, the Confederate Post Office was profitable for most of the war.
Soldiers’ mail sent from Pennsylvania includes examples with Federal postage stamps, most likely purchased from nearby post offices. Dillsburg’s post office was raided by J.E.B. Stuart’s men; stamps were stolen, among other items. Other mail with CSA stamps was sent southward via courier service to be delivered into Reagan’s formal mail routes. One courier with a packet of letters was apparently captured near Hanover by the Yankees.
Here is a second letter from this batch…
York, Pa. June 29, 1863 – The “rebels” arrived here yesterday and took possession, and now hold this place. I, by strategic movements, brought up the rear about eight o’clock P.M. yesterday. No doubt you will be surprised to hear that I am here… General Early demanded one hundred thousand dollars from the citizens as their portion of the levy to support the troops. The confederates are a brave set of men, anxious at all times to engage the Yankees.