Sale 988 — The Steven C. Walske Collection of Civil War Special Routes
Sale Date — Thursday, 27 May, 2010
Category — Flag-of-Truce Mail: Pocotaligo-Port Royal
VERY FINE APPEARING AND RARE FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER FROM CAMP DAVIDSON SENT VIA POCOTALIGO AND PORT ROYAL. APPROXIMATELY SIX ARE KNOWN.
Martin C. Hobart was 25 years of age when he enlisted in Company B, Wisconsin 7th Infantry Regiment (part of the famous "Iron Brigade") in 1861. Promoted to full colonel by the end of the war, he survived the war and prison and was mustered out on July 3, 1865. Camp Davidson, named for its first commander, was created from the old U.S. Marine Hospital to house Union commissioned officers in August 1864. Conditions were considered among the best of C.S.A. prisons, with shade and decent rations (Harrison p. 32). When the camp was liberated by Gen. Sherman in December 1864 after only five months of operation, it held 800 prisoners.
From July 1864 until February 1865, Union P.O.W. mail from Charleston, Savannah and Florence prisons was carried from Pocotaligo S.C. (on the Charleston & Savannah R.R. line) to Union-held Port Royal, S.C. Flag-of-truce mail via South Carolina is considerably rarer than flag-of-truce mail via Virginia. Most surviving covers are inner envelopes, but a few mixed-franking covers like this one are known. The route was closed by the Federal capture of Pocotaligo on January 14, 1865.
Ex Antrim. Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 77)
VERY FINE. A RARE P.O.W. COVER FROM RICKERSVILLE HOSPITAL SENT BY FLAG-OF-TRUCE VIA POCOTALIGO AND PORT ROYAL. ONLY FOUR COVERS ARE KNOWN FROM THIS HOSPITAL.
All the covers definitively known to come from Rickersville are from Lt. Oliver R. McNary, a member of Co. E of the 12th Pa. Volunteers (see lot 130 for a related cover). McNary was captured on April 20, 1864 at Plymouth N.C., taken to Andersonville where he attempted to escape, then to Macon from where he did escape on July 30. He was recaptured on August 17, injured during his flight and taken to Rickersville Hospital on August 21. The enclosed letter states, "...(brought) to this place from Macon Geo last week. At present am in the 1st South Carolina Hospital..." He was then moved to Annapolis Hospital on December 4 and finally paroled. A lengthy article on the McNary correspondence can be found in the Confederate Philatelist (Oct. 1961).
VERY FINE APPEARING AND EXTREMELY RARE PRISONER-OF-WAR COVER FROM FLORENCE PRISON, SENT BY FLAG-OF-TRUCE VIA POCOTALIGO AND PORT ROYAL. FEWER THAN TEN ARE KNOWN.
According to Wikipedia: "The Florence Stockade was built and became operational in September 1864, and was in use during the final fall and winter of the war. During its time of operation, anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 captives were held there. The need for additional prisons became imperative after General Sherman captured Atlanta on September 1, 1864. Andersonville prison in south Georgia was thought to be in the path of Sherman and the Confederate prison authorities determined to relocate the approximately 30,000 Union prisoners then at Andersonville. Because Florence had three railroads, and was thought to be secure, it was chosen as a site for a newly constructed prison. To keep the Union soldiers in order during relocation, they were told that they were to be paroled. Many of those who were unable to walk or not stable enough to travel were left behind in Andersonville. Of the total number of prisoners that passed through the Florence Stockade, 2,802 Union soldiers died there and most were buried in unmarked trenches in what would become the Florence National Cemetery after the war."
Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 242)
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE PRISONER-OF-WAR COVER FROM CAMP SORGHUM ROUTED VIA CHARLESTON AND PORT ROYAL.
Camp Sorghum was established in October 1864, but its entire prison population was moved to nearby Camp Asylum on December 12, 1864 for security reasons. The Richland Jail and the College Hospital in Columbia were also used to hold P.O.W.s until the fall of Columbia on February 17, 1865. In total, more than 85 covers are known from Columbia prisons. Northbound P.O.W. mail was initially processed through Columbia, and entered the U.S. mails at Old Point Comfort. In mid-November 1864, mail was processed through Charleston and exchanged via Port Royal, including this cover. Mail was sent via Charleston for only a short time and as such is rare. Starting in early December, mail was once again processed through Columbia and exchanged via Old Point Comfort.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A BEAUTIFUL AND EXTREMELY RARE MIXED-FRANKING COVER FROM JOHNSON'S ISLAND PRISON, SENT VIA PORT ROYAL AND POCOTALIGO AND CARRIED BY COURIER TO AUGUSTA. THIS IS THE EARLIEST KNOWN FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER VIA THIS ROUTE.
On November 7, 1861, Federal forces captured the Hilton Head-Port Royal coastal region of southeastern South Carolina. Five months later, on April 11, 1862, the U.S. occupied Fort Pulaski in the harbor of nearby Savannah, Georgia. These actions placed U.S. and C.S.A. forces in close proximity, with the C.S.A. retaining control of the Charleston-Savannah railroad. This resulted in military flag-of-truce exchanges between U.S. controlled Port Royal and C.S.A. controlled Pocotaligo, South Carolina on the Savannah-Charleston railroad. This flag-of-truce route was closed by the Federal capture of Pocotaligo on January 14, 1865.
Surviving covers suggest that flag-of-truce mail began to be carried on this route in August 1863. U.S. prisons in Georgia or South Carolina sent all of their southbound mail by this route, and other U.S. prisons would sometimes send mail addressed to South Carolina or Georgia by this route (such as Johnson's Island). Flag-of-truce mail via South Carolina is considerably rarer than flag-of-truce mail via Virginia. Most surviving covers are inner envelopes, but some mixed franking covers are known. Initially, southbound mail was processed and postmarked at Pocotaligo, but as mail volumes increased, the mail was taken to either Charleston or Savannah for processing. Rarely, southbound mail addressed to Georgia from U.S. prisons would be forwarded from Pocotaligo to Augusta, Georgia, for entry into the C.S.A. mails. This cover is such an example (Special Routes p. 74).
Ex Birkinbine. Illustrated in Special Routes (p.75)
VERY FINE. A RARE FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER FROM ELMIRA PRISON, SENT VIA PORT ROYAL AND POCOTALIGO AND TAKEN TO CHARLESTON FOR PROCESSING.
This cover was sent through Port Royal but received no C.S.A. markings until it entered the mails at Charleston. Mail from Elmira and other U.S. prisons in the North to the C.S.A. was normally routed via Fortress Monroe and Richmond. A tiny percentage of mail, addressed to Georgia or South Carolina, was sent via Fort Royal. No more than five from U.S. northern prisons are known.
Ex Kohn. Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 232)
EXTREMELY FINE COVER FROM FORT DELAWARE PRISON, SENT VIA PORT ROYAL AND BY LOCAL FLAG-OF-TRUCE BOAT TO CHARLESTON.
This unusual cover was sent via Port Royal and Charleston with C.S.A. postage due at the 2c drop rate.
Ex Birkinbine. Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 76)
VERY FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE LOCAL FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER FROM ONE OF THE "CONFEDERATE 50" PRISONERS ON BOARD THE U.S.S. DRAGOON OFF HILTON HEAD -- THE PREDECESSORS TO THE WELL-KNOWN "IMMORTAL 600."
On June 13, 1864, U.S. Major General John Foster, in command of the Department of the South at Hilton Head S.C. received a message from C.S.A. Major General Samuel Jones, commander of Confederate forces at Charleston, that five generals and 45 field officers had been transferred as prisoners-of-war to Charleston, which was under bombardment of Federal batteries. Foster immediately retaliated by ordering an equal number of prisoners of the same grade to be brought south and exposed to Confederate guns from Charleston. These 50 Confederate prisoners were taken from Fort Delaware and delivered to Gen. Foster at Hilton Head. Gen. Jones immediately proposed an exchange, which was completed on August 2.
From their arrival on June 29 until their exchange, the Confederate officers were held aboard the U.S.S. Dragoon off Hilton Head, in extreme conditions. According to Harrison (p. 222): "...for many days they had only bread to eat, but that was good because the meat when it was served was so decayed and disgusting that it had to be thrown overboard." The prisoners were allowed to write letters, but the short time they were on board the Dragoon accounts for the extreme rarity of known covers. (Harrison records only five). Shortly after their exchange, 600 more Federal prisoners were brought to Charleston and this touched off the famous "Immortal 600" incident.
Illustrated in Harrison (p. 223)
VERY FINE COVER FROM ONE OF THE 600 UNION OFFICERS HELD IN CHARLESTON UNDER FIRE FROM FEDERAL FORCES ON MORRIS ISLAND.
The officer who sent this letter was captured June 29, 1864, during the Wilson-Kautz cavalry raid at Stony Creek Va. His letter states in part "We moved from Macon last week and arrived here yesterday...There are six hundred prisoners here -- all officers". The Charleston 600 were the U.S. prisoners for whom Union General John Foster retaliated by bringing the Confederate "Immortal 600" to Morris Island. This cover is especially desirable with the prisoner's letter and reference to the "six hundred".
VERY FINE COVER FROM ONE OF THE IMMORTAL "600" ON THE U.S.S. CRESCENT CITY, JUST PRIOR TO BEING PLACED ON MORRIS ISLAND.
In August 1864, approximately 600 Confederate prisoners were moved on the Crescent City to Morris Island near Charleston by Federal forces, arriving on the island on September 7. They were held in open barracks as "human shields" under direct shelling from Confederate forces in retaliation for Union prisoners being held in Charleston under shelling from U.S. forces, a continuation and escalation of the prior "50" prisoner incident. Lt. Johnson was a member of Company K of the 7th S.C. Cavalry. He was captured on May 30, 1864, at Old Church Va., and taken to Fort Delaware, then to Morris Island as one of the "600". He was sent to Fort Pulaksi when the prisoners were moved from Morris Island on October 23 and finally back to Fort Delaware.
VERY FINE AND CHOICE COVER FROM ONE OF THE IMMORTAL "600" ON MORRIS ISLAND.
In August 1864, approximately 600 Confederate prisoners were moved to Morris Island near Charleston by Federal forces, arriving on September 7. They were held in open barracks as "human shields" under direct shelling from Confederate forces in retaliation for Union prisoners being held in Charleston under shelling from U.S. forces. This cover is from the same officer as the prior Crescent City cover and the following Fort Pulaski covers.
Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 236)