Sale 988 — The Steven C. Walske Collection of Civil War Special Routes
Sale Date — Thursday, 27 May, 2010
Category — Flag-of-Truce Mail: Provost Marshal Examiners
EXTREMELY FINE. ONE OF THE MOST SPECATCULAR ACROSS-THE-LINES COVERS EXTANT. A BEAUTIFUL COMBINATION OF POSTAL HISTORY AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY.
On rare occasions, an individual would receive a pass to cross the lines. Line-crossings required communication and cooperation between the warring parties, who were naturally suspicious of one another. The request enclosed in this cover explains: "Wilmington, North Carolina, Oct 26, 1863, Mrs. J. Carrie Burnett of Cincinnati Ohio, wife of a Federal soldier desires to procure a passport to return to her family in Ohio, with permission to go upon your Flag of Truce boat via Fortress Monroe. The permit forwarded to me will be handed to her. Respectfully, B. Duncan." (Duncan's censor mark appears on blockade-run covers -- see lot 350). The pass was granted on November 9 and returned by flag-of-truce to Wilmington. Mrs. Burnett then used it to board the flag-of-truce steamer to U.S.-controlled Fortress Monroe.
This cover is combines the essential ingredients of postal history -- extraordinary markings serving an unusual purpose -- with great Civil War history. It also helps us imagine the struggles of Mrs. Burnett and thousands of other civilian wives and mothers to reunite with their loved ones during the war.
Illustrated in Antrim (p. 194). Discussed and illustrated in Special Routes (p. 96, 177-178)
VERY FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF THE EAST TENNESSEE PROVOST MARSHAL EMBOSSED SEAL. FEWER THAN FIVE EXAMPLES ARE KNOWN.
Provost marshals were military officers charged with the duties of making searches, seizures, and arrests, the custody of deserters and of prisoners of war, and the issuance of passes. Their duties also included the examination of letters to or from potentially disloyal persons. Two types of provost marshals were appointed during the Civil War. Each military district had a provost marshal whose duties were focused on maintaining order within the geographic confines of that district. In addition, each army had a provost marshal whose duties were more military in nature, such as taking temporary charge of captured prisoners and maintaining order in the army.
Virtually all examination of mail was performed by the district provost marshals. Both the U.S and C.S.A. district provost marshal organizations examined across-the-lines mail. In that context, they were responsible for P.O.W. mail, civilian flag-of-truce mail, blockade-run mail, and smuggled mail. A number of different manuscript provost marshal markings appear on through-the-lines covers as well as Union handstamped markings. The only district to use the rare embossed marking is the District of East Tennessee.
Illustrated in Harrison (p. 246) and Special Routes (p. 98)
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE COMBINATION OF A SCARCE CENSOR MARKING WITH THE 5-CENT BLUE LITHOGRAPHED GENERAL ISSUE. A BEAUTIFUL FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER.
This cover is the inner envelope of a flag-of-truce letter that was exchanged between Fortress Monroe and Richmond and put into the Richmond post office as an overpaid drop letter.
Illustrated in Antrim (p. 178), Shenfield (p. 37), Harrison (p. 249) and Special Routes (p. 99)
FINE AND RARE CIVILIAN FLAG-OF-TRUCE COVER WITH A PROVOST MARSHAL CENSOR HANDSTAMP AND PRE-PAID C.S.A. POSTAGE.
The use of Confederate stamps on a southbound flag-of-truce cover is very unusual, and this is a very late use of the 5c Green Lithograph. Typically, such covers show a due marking for C.S.A. postage
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY COVER KNOWN FROM THE FEDERAL PROVOST MARSHAL PRISON IN KNOXVILLE.
Following the Fall 1863 Knoxville Campaign and the September 2, 1863, occupation of Knoxville by Federal forces, the former Confederate prison was taken over and used as a Provost Marshal Prison. Large numbers of citizen prisoners were held there during 1864. (Harrison p. 205). Samuel Powhatan Carter was a U.S. Navy officer who served in the Union Army as a brevet major general during the war and after the war became a rear admiral -- the first American officer to be awarded both ranks. After the occupation of Knoxville, he was also made Provost Marshal General of the Knoxville Division. Major L. A. Gratz served as examiner and acting assistant adjutant general. Harrison records only a single cover sent to the Knoxville Prison and this is the only one we record from the Prison.