VERY FINE. FEWER THAN FIVE COVERS ARE KNOWN FROM CAMP GROCE, A CONFEDERATE PRISON IN TEXAS. SENT BY FLAG-OF-TRUCE FROM GALVESTON VIA THE U.S. NAVAL BLOCKADING SQUADRON IN THE GULF. AN OUTSTANDING ARTIFACT OF ACROSS-THE-LINES CIVIL WAR POSTAL HISTORY.
Captain A. N. Proctor was an officer in Company G, Massachusetts 42nd Infantry Regiment. From New York in late 1862, his company and two others (D, I) were transported on the Steamer Saxon to occupy Galveston, Texas, which had been under the guns of U.S. naval ships. The regiment arrived at New Orleans on December 16, then Galveston on December 24. The occupation plan was a disaster, as the 42nd was heavily engaged at Galveston by C.S.A. forces on January 1, 1863, and the three companies captured. The soldiers of the regiment were paroled at Alexandria La., on February 18, 1863, and assigned to Parole Camp Bayou. Proctor and the other officers, however, were not among those paroled -- reportedly in part because a colonel in the regiment had two black servants in his employ, which greatly offended the sensibilities of the Confederates. So greatly, in fact, that the two black servants were sold into slavery in Houston, one for the reported price of $47. This violation of the rules of war was a catalyst for Abraham Lincoln's General Order No. 252, issued on July 31, in which he stated, "To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against civilization...It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed, and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor..." Proctor was confined at Huntsville sometime between January and June (see lot 231) and transferred to Camp Groce sometime prior to November. He subsequently was marched to Tyler and Camp Ford in December 1863 before he was finally exchanged.
Camp Groce was located about 50 miles northwest of Houston, and became a prison in June 1863. It was closed in December 1864. Northbound mail was routed via Houston, where it was generally examined by Major Hyllested, and then sent via nearby Galveston to a U.S. Navy ship. Surviving letters are postmarked "U.S. Ship 3cts" or at New York. Fewer than five covers are known.
Ex Antrim and Birkinbine. Illustrated in Antrim (p. 137), Harrison (p. 64) and Special Routes (p. 82). The Proctor correspondence is described in Chronicle (May 1979, No. 102)