VERY FINE APPEARANCE. AN OUTSTANDING AND VERY RARE EAST-TO-WEST TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS COVER PAID AT THE 50-CENT "PREFERRED MAIL" RATE.
By May 1864, when this cover was mailed at Marion, Virginia, the Trans-Mississippi Express had been operating for seven months. Early advertisements announcing the 50c "Preferred Mail" rate were apparently still in circulation, as evidenced by the few recorded covers showing 50c prepayment.
The addressee, William Williston Heartsill, was one of the first Confederate soldiers to enlist, joining W. P. Lane's Texas Rangers. In 1862 his Texas unit moved into Arkansas as a cavalry unit and were soon overwhelmed by a Union force. Heartsill was taken prisoner and transported to a Federal prison camp. In April 1863, he and other members of Lane's Rangers were exchanged for Federal prisoners. The men joined Gen. Braxton Bragg's army in Tennessee and fought in the bloody battle of Chickamauga. Under Bragg the Texas men were split among various units and dismounted, presenting intolerable conditions for them, and resulting in the men disappearing from their units and walking from Tennessee back to Texas. Once reunited there, the unit was placed in charge of Camp Ford, a prison for Federal troops, at Tyler, Texas (the cover offered here was sent to Heartsill while he was at Camp Ford). In July 1864 the unit joined General E. Kirby Smith in Louisiana and spent the remainder of the war there and in Arkansas. The unit was disbanded on May 20, 1865. After the war, Heartsill sold groceries and saddles in Marshall, Texas. Heartsill published his Civil War diary Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army, which can be viewed on the Library of Congress website at http://lccn.loc.gov/a14002842 Illustrated
Illustratedin Krieger book (No. E22). Ex Seacrest and Walske
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED 80-CENT DOUBLE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS RATE COVER PAID WITH STAMPS -- WITH A STRIP OF FOUR OF THE 20-CENT GENERAL ISSUE, IT IS ONE OF THE ICONIC RARITIES OF CIVIL WAR POSTAL HISTORY.
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.
Richard Krieger's book The Trans-Mississippi Mails After the Fall of Vicksburg, illustrates this cover (E39 on p. 51) and states that it is the only known double 40c rate cover (paid by stamps). Three other covers from this correspondence are also listed and bear 40c in postage for the single rate (one with a pair of 20c stamps). This is one of the great rarities of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi service, and indeed of all Civil War postal history.
Ex Moody, Finney, Richey and Antrim
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. AN EXTREMELY RARE WEST-TO-EAST TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS COVER, BEARING A PAIR OF THE 20-CENT GENERAL ISSUE.
Of the fewer than 25 covers with a pair of the 20c Green paying the 40c Trans-Mississippi Express rate, only four are recorded in Krieger traveling in the west-to-east direction.
Illustrated in Krieger book (No. W12) and in 1986 Dietz catalog (p. 201).
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE COMBINATION OF THE CUSHING TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS LABEL AND THE 20-CENT GREEN ISSUE.
The label reads: "FORWARDED BY E.H. CUSHING. HOUSTON, July 4, 1864. We have received no papers or letters by mail for months. Persons coming this way are particularly requested to bring as many copies of Southern newspapers as they can. We shall be obliged to our friends who will send us papers as letters by any mail messenger that may come. We have overwhelming crops. More rain has fallen in the month of June than in any June before for ten years. Western Texas is flooded. Mr. Warren Adams, who takes this, will bring a letter in return for it, free of charge. Send your return letter to the Mobile Advertiser, Mobile, Ala. E.H. CUSHING Editor Houston Telegraph." This is the only recorded example of this particular label.