VERY FINE APPEARANCE. AN OUTSTANDING COMBINATION OF THE RARE CUSHING TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS LABEL AND THE 20-CENT GREEN ISSUE.
E. H. Cushing, publisher of the Houston Daily Telegraph, commenced his express service after New Orleans fell to Federal forces in April 1862. In an effort to improve communications between Texas regiments in the East and their relations at home, as well as secure safe lines for news transmission, Cushing established routes with pony riders and other means of conveyance necessary to cross the Federal lines. Cushing's agents affixed labels to the backs of envelopes carried by express. These were intended to inform patrons and advertise the service. Approximately 20 examples (of all varieties) are believed to exist.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THIS IS THE EARLIEST RECORDED USE OF A COVER PAYING THE 40-CENT TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS RATE, AND ONE OF ONLY TWO COVERS BEARING THE MERIDIAN, MISSISSIPPI TRANSIT MARKING. ONE OF THE GREATEST TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS COVERS IN EXISTENCE.
The Mississippi River and inland waterway routes were essential lifelines within the Confederacy. Early in the war, Federal naval strategy focused on control of the Mississippi, and, by the spring of 1862, key port cities were captured by Federal forces, giving them control of the river. With the Southern states divided between East and West, the Confederate government was forced to devise special measures to maintain transportation and communication along the trans-Mississippi routes. Surreptitious traffic across the river was carried on by private and government couriers, and the post office was authorized to appoint agents to ensure that the mail lines remained open. In April 1863 the Confederate Congress authorized a "preferred mail" across the Mississippi River and established a 50c rate per half-ounce. The act was revised to create an "express mail" without a fixed rate of postage, but instead limited to no more than a dollar per half ounce. By October 1863, Postmaster General Reagan secured a contract to have mail carried across the Mississippi at the rate of 40c per half ounce. Meridian and Brandon, Mississippi, were chosen as the eastern terminal points. Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana, were chosen as the western terminal points. This is the earliest recorded use of the "express mail" service.
Ex Walske. Illustrated in Special Mail Routes of the American Civil War by Walske and Trepel on p. 122.
VERY FINE. A RARE EXAMPLE OF MAIL SENT TO A CONFEDERATE DOCTOR IN THE NAVY, WHICH WAS FORWARDED BY THE LOUISIANA RELIEF COMMITTEE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF AN EASTBOUND TRANS-MISSISSIPPI RELIEF COMMITTEE USE.
On May 31, 1863, a group of expatriate New Orleans citizens in Mobile, Alabama, organized a committee to alleviate the suffering of poor citizens who remained in U.S.-occupied New Orleans, Louisiana. With the tacit concurrence of Federal authorities in New Orleans, they arranged shipments of food and clothing to New Orleans and helped citizens leave New Orleans for the Confederate States. These “Louisiana Relief Committee at Mobile” trips between Mobile and New Orleans via Pascagoula ran along the Mississippi Sound and carried letters which were not sanctioned by the U.S. Jules Denis, C.S.A. provost marshal at Mobile, examined the southbound letters. The U.S. also used these trips to transmit P.O.W. flag-of-truce mail to and from prisoners in New Orleans. The latest known Louisiana Relief Committee cover was postmarked in Mobile on September 2, 1864.
The Committee also handled the forwarding of mail addressed to C.S.A. military personnel in Mobile. This type of mail typically did not originate in New Orleans, and is considerably rarer. In addition, since it did not cross the lines, it was not censored by the provost marshal at Mobile. The Committee apparently paid the C.S.A. postage on these letters as a favor to the senders, including the 2¢ C.S.A. drop letter rate on mail addressed to Mobile. The Committee undoubtedly carried mail from Mobile to New Orleans, but none has been identified. Apparently for security reasons, the Committee did not endorse westbound letters, and they would have no postal markings since they were hand-carried all the way to New Orleans addressees.
From a June 6, 1985 Robert Kaufmann auction. Ex Birkinbine and Walske.