A VERY EARLY PRISONER-OF-WAR COVER FROM A UNION SOLDIER CAPTURED AT THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN AND HELD AT LIGON'S TOBACCO WAREHOUSE IN RICHMOND. ONLY THREE ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVERS FROM PRISONERS ARE RECORDED -- ALL NORTHBOUND FROM UNION CAPTIVES IN THE CONFEDERATE PRISON AT RICHMOND.
The enclosed letter is written in pencil (as is the address on the cover) and datelined "Richmond Va. July 24th 1861". It is a four-page well-written account of Private Graves' capture three days earlier at the First Battle of Bull Run ("the terrible battle of Manassas"). Private Graves was captured by Confederate cavalry when he and another soldier were carrying a wounded comrade and fell behind the retreating Union army.
This and two other covers are the earliest examples of mail sent from Ligon's Tobacco Warehouse in Richmond, where Union captives from First Manassas were held by Confederates. The three covers are Special Routes Census Nos. N-AD-53 (Richmond Aug. 3, Louisville Aug. 6, sold in a February 2008 Rumsey auction for $19,000 hammer), N-AD-55 (letter dated July 24, Richmond date unclear, Louisville Aug. 7), and N-AD-56 (Richmond Aug. 4, Louisville Aug. 7). The July 24 letter in this envelope provides a definite date of origin. The three covers were apparently postmarked on at least two different days at the Richmond post office.
Illustrated and described in detail in Antrim book (p. 112) and Ashbrook's Special Service (pp. 250-252). Special Routes Census No. N-AD-55 (illustrated on p. 64). Ex Chase, Finney and Antrim