VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED 80-CENT DOUBLE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS RATE COVER PAID WITH STAMPS -- WITH A STRIP OF FOUR OF THE 20-CENT GENERAL ISSUE, IT IS ONE OF THE ICONIC RARITIES OF CIVIL WAR POSTAL HISTORY.
The Mississippi River and inland waterway routes were essential lifelines within the Confederacy. Early in the war, Federal naval strategy focused on control of the Mississippi, and, by the spring of 1862, key port cities were captured by Federal forces, giving them control of the river. With the Southern states divided between East and West, the Confederate government was forced to devise special measures to maintain transportation and communication along the trans-Mississippi routes. Surreptitious traffic across the river was carried on by private and government couriers, and the Post Office was authorized to appoint agents to ensure that the mail lines remained open. In April 1863 the Confederate Congress authorized a "preferred mail" across the Mississippi River and established a 50c rate per half-ounce. The act was revised to create an "express mail" without a fixed rate of postage, but instead limited to no more than a dollar per half ounce. By October 1863, Postmaster General Reagan secured a contract to have mail carried across the Mississippi at the rate of 40c per half ounce. Meridian and Brandon, Mississippi, were chosen as the eastern terminal points. Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana, were chosen as the western terminal points.
Richard Krieger's book The Trans-Mississippi Mails After the Fall of Vicksburg, illustrates this cover (E39 on p. 51) and states that it is the only known double 40c rate cover (paid by stamps). Three other covers from this correspondence are also listed and bear 40c in postage for the single rate (one with a pair of 20c stamps). This is one of the great rarities of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi service, and indeed of all Civil War postal history.
Ex Moody, Finney, Richey and Antrim