A REMARKABLE PAIR OF LETTERS. THE FIRST TELLS OF THE WRITER'S IMPENDING JOURNEY ON A BLOCKADE RUNNER, WHILE THE SECOND IS AN EXTREMELY RARE FLAG-OF-TRUCE USAGE FROM CUBA TO SOUTH CAROLINA VIA NEW YORK CITY, FORTRESS MONROE AND RICHMOND, VIRGINIA.
The first is datelined Wilmington N.C. Oct. 7, 1863, as Aichel is awaiting his departure on board the "Blockade Runner... Margaretha & Jessie" to be transported to Nassau and Havana, with 10c Green, Die B (12) tied by "Wilmington N.C." circular datestamp.
The second, headed "Fourth letter", is datelined "Habana, 22 Decemb. 1863" and written in English for the purpose of censoring. Aichel mentions he has been in Havana for 1-1/2 months, describes the difficulty of finding work at reasonable wages and characterizes locals as "those mis-trusting vicious creoles." He closes by wishing his family a Merry Christmas. This letter is endorsed "By Flag of Truce" and was enclosed in an outer envelope (no longer present), which carried it by steamer to New York City and from there to the exchange point at Fortress Monroe in Virginia. The enclosed letter was censored and marked "Examined J. Cassels" (John Cassels, Captain and Provost Marshal), then sent by flag-of-truce boat to Richmond, where 10c Greenish Blue, Die B (12), large margins, was tied by "Richmond Va. Jan. 18" (1864) circular datestamp.
Both are in Very Fine condition. Letters originating outside the continental United States and carried into the Confederacy under the flag of truce are extremely rare - far rarer, in fact, than blockade-run covers into Confederate ports. Two similiar covers from the Aichel correspondence - one with a faulty stamp, the other stampless - were offered in our sale of the Kohn collection (Sale 382).
FINE AND VERY RARE - POSSIBLY UNIQUE - CIVILIAN FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER WITH THE 10-CENT ROSE LITHOGRAPH.
It is not clear to us how this flag-of-truce cover was handled. The regulations required the use of two envelopes for flag-of-truce mail. Ordinarily, on a South-to-North letter, the outer envelope would bear Confederate postage and an appropriately worded "Flag of Truce" address. At the exchange point the inner envelope bearing U.S. postage would be removed and put into the Federal mails. In this instance, it appears that the envelope bearing Confederate postage (the 10c Rose) was examined by the Confederate censor (ms. "Exd") and placed into the mails, receiving a Federal "Due 3" handstamp. While the regulations were often breached by placing Confederate and U.S. stamps on one envelope, this usage - without any Federal postmark other than the "Due 3" - is enigmatic and obviously extremely rare, if not unique. Illustrated in Antrim book, p. 195.