A VERY FINE AND IMPORTANT HISTORICAL COVER, CARRIED BY STEAMBOAT INTO NEW ORLEANS AT THE CLIMAX OF THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS.
April 24th marked the climax of the Battle of New Orleans in which Federal gunboats under Admiral Farragut's command effectively defeated Confederate defending forces. The refusal of Mayor John Monroe and Confederate Gen. Mansfield Lovell to formally surrender, coupled with Lovell's decision to withdraw his troops, resulted in days of military skirmishing and widespread chaos as citizens of the undefended city panicked. On April 25th Farragut's forces anchored off the New Orleans waterfront watched as the wharf was set afire by the city's own residents - a young girl wrote in her diary "We are conquered but not subdued." (The Civil War: Day by Day, p. 204).
On May 1st Maj. General Benjamin F. Butler began his command and administration of New Orleans. Butler's harsh command earned him the sobriquet "Beast" Butler. After April 24th there was no regular Confederate postal activity in New Orleans, which effectively makes this a last day cover of the most important port city's post office in the Confederacy. During Federal occupation letters were smuggled between residents of New Orleans and relations in the Confederate States.
With 1983 P.F. certificate
A FINE AND REMARKABLE COVER. POSTMARKED IN RICHMOND SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO THE UNION ARMY'S OCCUPATION OF RICHMOND AND DELIVERED ON MAY 9, 1865, BY THE FEDERAL POST OFFICE.
On Sunday, April 2, 1865, the Confederate government evacuated Richmond. Looting and fires broke out throughout the Confederate capital as the Federal army approached. The following day the Union army's Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel restored order to the city and prepared for the arrival of President Lincoln on the next day. In A Chautauqua Boy, the war memoirs of David B. Parker, who served as Superintendent of the Mails of the Army of the Potomac, he states "...[after occupation] I conducted the post-office at Richmond for a number of weeks...Dr. Alex. Sharp, whose wife was a sister of Mrs. grant, was soon appointed postmaster, and I remained at Richmond and had my office with him."
This cover is unusual in two respects. It is addressed to a judge in Richmond, yet has 20c postage cancelled at Richmond on March 27th. There are other so-called overpaid drop letters, which are really letters brought from outside the city and postmarked in Richmond, which is what we think occured in this instance. Our theory regarding the lapse of time between the postmark and receipt dates is that the letter was pigeon-holed at the Richmond post office, waiting to be picked up by Judge Moncave. When the post office shut down on April 2nd, the letter remained in the post office and was not made available until the Federals re-organized postal service. We know of no other cover that entered the post office under the Confederates and exited under the Federals.