Richmond Va. Feb. 3 (1863).
Bold mostly complete cds with "DUE 10"
straightline handstamps on small blue folded letter to H. W. Fry at Richmond, letter written from Fredericksburg Va. in the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg,
datelined "Fredbg Feby 2d, 1863"
from the "Distributor of R.F."
(Relief Fund), whose name is not legible to us, letter requests supplies for the Relief Fund, small tear at bottom where wax seal removed. This is a significant cover, adding another dimension to the theory put forth by the late A. Earl Weatherly that the enigmatic Richmond "Way" marking was applied to soldiers' mail carried by James River packets. In this instance the sender was a Confederate relief organizer in the city of Fredericksburg, which was re-occupied by the Confederates after one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The battle raged for a day on December 13, 1862, and forced a Federal retreat across the Rappahannock River. Although technically a Confederate victory, the casualties were catastrophic for both sides - 1,284 Federals killed, 1,769 missing, 9,600 wounded, and 595 Confederates killed, 653 missing, 4,061 wounded. Under the prevailing conditions in February 1863, extraordinary means to convey letters were required; in this case, the "Way" marking indicates that the letter was brought in by river boat. Although not a soldier's letter, it was accepted by the Richmond post office on the same basis and rated "Due 10" cents. A fascinating postal history usage
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