VERY FINE. THE EARLIEST RECORDED NORTH-TO-SOUTH ADAMS EXPRESS COVER AFTER SUSPENSION OF GOVERNMENT MAILS. THE ONLY COMPLETE COVER WITH THE ADAMS LARGE DOUBLE-CIRCLE HANDSTAMP.
Postmaster General Blair's May 27 order stopping mail from the North to disloyal Southern states was effective after May 31, but it did not apply to Tennessee until June 8 (or soon after), when that state officially declared itself a Confederate State.
On June 15 the American Letter Express Co. advertised its thru-the-lines service. On June 22 the Adams Express Co. and M. D. Whiteside advertised their competing express services (see Figure B for Adams advertisement). Examples of express covers carried across the lines by these companies prior to June 15 and 22 are evidence that service pre-dated the advertised commencement dates.
This cover is such proof. It was mailed on June 12 and received at Knoxville on June 19, pre-dating the June 22 commencement date advertised by Adams. Obviously, Adams was moving letters between Louisville and Nashville earlier than announced in their North-South express ads.
Only two examples of the large double-circle handstamp are known to us: this cover and another cover front only. Its rarity and early use indicate that this marking was used briefly by the Louisville office before the typical dated circle was brought into use.
The Adams messenger carrying this mail presumably travelled by railroad along a route from Louisville to Nashville, then to Knoxville, Bristol, Salem and finally arriving at Petersburg. The 25c express charge included 10c C.S.A. postage, but this cover was carried entirely outside the Confederate mails.
Illustrated and described in Shenfield (p. 19, 24). Ex Finney
ONE OF FOUR RECORDED WELLS, FARGO & CO. FRANKED ENTIRES USED TO THE CONFEDERATE STATES. AN OUTSTANDING COVER LINKING TRANSCONTINENTAL AND NORTH-SOUTH THRU-THE-LINES EXPRESSES.
There are no markings to confirm the route prior to reaching Louisville, but Wells, Fargo & Co. presumably carried this letter from San Francisco to New York City via Panama, then handed it to Adams Express Co. for transit to Louisville and Nashville, where it entered the Confederate mails.
Ex Meroni and Roser
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS BARDSTOWN LABEL ON A THRU-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER.
Accompanied by original letter enclosure, datelined at Bardstown, June 18, 1861, which requests payment to be sent "by mail or by Adams express" with the words "by mail" crossed out. The letter further states (in part): "Kentucky is not at war with you, and we hope never to be, but she will resist agressions, come whence they may. She will not lend her aid to subjegation. She wants peace and the foot that attempts to trample on her will find a thorny path...Govr. wants a Strong Guard & but few thinks he wants to catch Jef Davis." An eloquent expression of Kentucky's early position of neutrality.
Ex Peters and Malpass