A VERY FINE AND EARLY THRU-THE-LINES COVER FROM CONFEDERATE MISSISSIPPI TO CONNECTICUT VIA LOUISVILLE.
The suspension of Federal mail service to the South was ordered on May 27, 1861, and the Confederate postal system was inaugurated on June 1. During the first week of June there was considerable disruption in mail service, and, with the complete termination of mail between Louisville and Nashville on June 8 (or 10), post offices were no longer permitted to carry mail across the lines. The express companies filled the void.
This cover from Pontotoc, mailed on June 8, was correctly prepaid to Nashville, probably arriving there on the following day, June 9. Whether this cover slipped into the Federal mails at Louisville or was carried by an early thru-the-lines express, we cannot say. If carried by express, it might have been enclosed in an outer envelope for mailing at Louisville. If sent to Connecticut in the regular mails, it is possible that Louisville allowed some mail to go through without marking letters unpaid.
A clue to the routing may lie in the sender's instructions to direct a reply to the Louisville distributing office and "it will probably reach me." In a remarkable stroke of luck, we found Henry White's reply cover in the Frank J. Engel sale catalogue (H. R. Harmer, May 17, 1976, lot 2700 - see Figure A opposite). As instructed by Stephen Daggett, Mr. White addressed his envelope "Via Louisville Ky. D.P.O.", but it was stopped in transit and sent to the Dead Leter Office on July 22.
A REMARKABLE THRU-THE-LINES COVER FROM TEXAS, POSTMARKED AT PADUCAH ON THE EVE OF THE CONFEDERATE INVASION OF KENTUCKY AND THREE DAYS PRIOR TO FEDERAL OCCUPATION UNDER ULYSSES S. GRANT.
Kaufman County, Texas, lies just east of Dallas. Four days after the letter's June 15 dateline, it was postmarked at Turner's Point, also in Kaufman County. The letter made its way to the Mississippi River, probably by a courier, then it was carried up river to Paducah, Kentucky.
Although Kentucky remained neutral at this time, Paducah had strong pro-Southern elements. This letter was postmarked first on August 29, then again on August 30, and finally a third time on September 3, the day Confederate forces moved on Hickman and Columbus, Kentucky, which effectively ended the state's neutrality policy.
On the morning of September 6, some 4,000 Confederate troops moved from Columbus toward Paducah with the intention of taking this key river port. However, Ulysses S. Grant entered Paducah that morning with a small detachment of troops and proclaimed Federal control. The Confederates were unaware of their superior strength and turned back from Paducah after hearing of Grant's occupation. To reassure citizens who were predominantly pro-Southern and deeply suspicious of the Union army's presence, Grant issued an eloquent proclamation that earned him the people's confidence and his superior's praise.
Looking at the markings on this cover - in particular, the absence of a "Due 10" at Turner's Point and the multiple datestamps and "Due" markings at Paducah - one wonders if the postmasters in the sending and receiving offices equivocated between the U.S. and C.S.A. rates while Kentucky's fate was uncertain.
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE NORTHERN DEAD LETTER OFFICE MARKING APPLIED TO SOUTHBOUND MAIL AFTER SUSPENSION OF MAILS. ONE OF TWO RECORDED WITH THE LARGE OVAL DATESTAMP ON MAIL ORIGINATING IN KENTUCKY.
After Postmaster General Blair's May 27 order prohibiting mail from the North to disloyal Southern States, the mails between Louisville and Nashville continued briefly until ordered stopped on or soon after June 8 (see Brooks American Letter Express Company, p. 16). This cover was sent by Thomas S. Morgan, later a captain in the Confederate army, to the Confederate Governor of Texas, but it was stopped - probably at Louisville - and sent to the Washington D.C. Dead Letter Office. The envelope was opened to identify the sender, then it was returned to him postage due.
Thomas S. Morgan was not related to John Hunt Morgan, the celebrated Confederate raider, but he is mentioned on page 193 of Rebel Raider by James A. Ramage (1986, The University Press of Kentucky). Thomas S. Morgan's sister, Lucy Dorsey, visited him in a prison hospital at Camp Chase one day prior to John Hunt Morgan's escape. Days later she wrote to her grandfather and used words suggesting a coded message of hope for Morgan's safe journey home. As the historian Ramage observes, "There is no proof that Lucy aided the escape, but she may have delivered messages or money through her brother, who was not one of the escapees."
In our Sale 795, we sold a similar D.L.O. cover from Kentucky for $3,500 hammer. At the time our records contained only that example.