Sale 1238 — Civil War Special Mail Routes
Sale Date — Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Category — Express Mail Across the Lines Beginning June 15, 1861
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY VICKSBURG OFFICE DATESTAMP AND A REMARKABLE SOUTH-TO-NORTH EXPRESS COVER WITH AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE VICKSBURG POSTAL CLERK.
Frank N. Hammett is listed in the 1860 Vicksburg city directory as a clerk in the post office. He later served as a sergeant in the Army of Northern Virginia, 48th Mississippi Regiment, Company G, and was among the officers who surrendered at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. This cover appears to be addressed and endorsed entirely in Hammett's hand, including the "Paid 2/-" (two bits, or 25c) express rate notation. It is not known if Hammett was employed by the Adams Express Company.
This is the only Adams Express Company Vicksburg office cover recorded in the Special Routes census (N-PRE-22). Because it pre-dates the first Adams advertisements for across-the-lines service, it is classified as a Precursor period cover. However, the elements present in this cover -- the Adams datestamp, C.S.A. and U.S. postage, and use across the lines from Nashville to Louisville -- are no different than any of the covers dated onward from June 15. The 25c express charge included 10c C.S.A. postage and the Star Die entire paid the required U.S. postage, but this cover was carried entirely outside the mails.
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 35). Ex Shenfield, Judd and Dr. Brandon
VERY FINE. THE EARLIEST RECORDED NORTH-TO-SOUTH ADAMS EXPRESS COVER AFTER SUSPENSION OF ALL GOVERNMENT MAILS. THIS IS ALSO THE FINEST OF THE FEW KNOWN EXAMPLES OF THE ADAMS LARGE TRIPLE-CIRCLE HANDSTAMP.
On June 15 the American Letter Express Co. advertised its through-the-lines service. On June 22 the Adams Express Co. and M. D. Whiteside advertised their competing express services. Examples of express covers carried across the lines by these companies prior to June 15 and 22 are evidence that service pre-dated the advertised commencement dates. This cover was mailed on June 12 and received at Knoxville on June 19, pre-dating the June 22 commencement date advertised by Adams. Obviously, Adams was moving letters between Louisville and Nashville earlier than announced in their North-South express ads.
The Adams messenger carrying this mail presumably traveled by railroad along a route from Louisville to Nashville, then to Knoxville, Bristol, Salem and finally arriving at Petersburg. The 25c express charge included 10c C.S.A. postage and the Star Die entire paid the required U.S. postage, but this cover was carried entirely outside the mails.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-1. Illustrated and described in Shenfield book (p. 19, 24). Ex Finney and Gallagher. With 1998 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE COMBINATION OF ADAMS EXPRESS OFFICE MARKINGS -- NEW YORK TO NASHVILLE TO KNOXVILLE -- FOR ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS SERVICE TO PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA.
Only a few covers are recorded with this combination of Adams office markings, which were applied in transit entirely outside the U.S. and Confederate postal systems. Adams also had the option of placing letters into the Nashville post office for delivery by regular Confederate mails.
The Adams Knoxville and New York ovals are extremely rare, and collectors should be aware that a number of clever fakes were created by John A. Fox (these fakes bear the David Cleage address, a known correspondence).
The addressee, Reverend Abner Johnson Leavenworth, was at this time the principal and proprietor of the Leavenworth Academy and Collegiate Seminary for Young Ladies.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-14. Ex Emerson, Brooks, Gallagher and Walske
VERY FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER WITH THE HOUSTON TEXAS POSTMASTER' S PROVISIONAL HANDSTAMP.
Very few covers are recorded with Confederate provisional stamps or markings used in conjunction with across-the-lines express service. This group includes the provisionals of Atlanta (handstamp), Houston (handstamp), Lynchburg (press-printed entire), Memphis (adhesive), Mobile (adhesive), Montgomery (handstamp), Nashville (adhesive and handstamp) and New Orleans (adhesive). This is the only recorded express cover with the Houston provisional marking, which was obviously applied en route.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-43 (illustrated on p. 54). Ex Brigham, Castillejos ("Camina"), Guggenheim and Walske
FINE. A RARE CIVIL WAR EXPRESS COVER WITH A CONFEDERATE POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL ADHESIVE.
There is no indication of this cover's origin, but it is either an intra-Confederacy express use or a late North-to-South across-the-lines express use. In either case it entered the C.S.A. mails at Memphis. Express mail between the U.S. and C.S.A. was banned on August 26, 1861, by order of the U.S. Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair. The August 27 date in Memphis allows for a possible express use a few days earlier. A related cover to the same addressee at Champagnolle was offered in our sale of the Dr. Brandon collection (Sale 1073, lot 292). It is an Adams Southern Express Co. imprint cover with a letter to the same Hattie Billings from the express agent at Memphis, dated Sep. 15, 1861, which states that "communication with the North ceased entirely about one month since..."
Ex Clippert. With 1985 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS BARDSTOWN LABEL ON A THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER.
Accompanied by original letter enclosure, datelined at Bardstown, June 18, 1861, which requests payment to be sent "by mail or by Adams express" with the words "by mail" crossed out. The letter includes an eloquent expression of Kentucky's early position of neutrality: "Kentucky is not at war with you, and we hope never to be, but she will resist agressions, come whence they may. She will not lend her aid to subjegation. She wants peace and the foot that attempts to trample on her will find a thorny path...Govr. wants a Strong Guard & but few thinks he wants to catch Jef Davis."
Special Routes census no. S-AD-2. Ex Peters, Malpass and Gallagher. With 1998 P.F. certificate
FRESH AND VERY FINE. A BEAUTIFUL NORTH-TO-SOUTH THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER WITH THE SCARCE ADAMS AUGUSTA OFFICE OVAL.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-41. Ex Rosenberg
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE ADAMS EXPRESS THROUGH-THE-LINES COVER INTO NEW ORLEANS. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE NEW ORLEANS "DUE 20".
Special Routes census no. S-AD-26. Ex Knapp, Meroni and Dr. Skinner.
FINE. ONE OF THREE ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVERS WITH THE ADAMS BOSTON OFFICE DATESTAMP.
The Special Routes census lists only three across-the-lines covers from Boston (census nos. S-AD-18, 54 and 66). The addressees, Turpin & Yarbrough, were partners in a tobacco company in Richmond and owned the warehouse that was used as the 2nd Alabama Hospital, located at the southwest corner of 25th and Franklin Streets.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-54. Ex Brandebury, Knapp, Simon and Walske
VERY FINE. ONE OF THE FINEST OF THE SEVEN RECORDED COVERS WITH THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY'S PHILADELPHIA OFFICE MARKING.
The Special Routes census records only seven Adams Philadelphia office datestamps on southbound through-the-lines covers. Four of the seven were carried very late in the time period that private express mail was permitted, between August 12-19. This cover and the example offered in our sale of the Dr. Brandon collection (Sale 1087) are the two finest recorded.
Special Routes census no. S-AD-69. Ex Sloane, Ward, Everett and Dr. Morris
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED WELLS, FARGO & CO. FRANKED ENTIRES TO THE CONFEDERATE STATES WITH CONJUNCTIVE SERVICE WITH ADAMS EXPRESS. AN OUTSTANDING COVER LINKING TRANSCONTINENTAL AND NORTH-SOUTH THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESSES.
This was carried by Wells, Fargo & Co. from San Francisco to New York City via Panama. It was then handed over to Adams Express Co. for transit to Louisville and Nashville, where it entered the Confederate mails on August 25, 1861. Fewer than five Wells, Fargo & Co. entires are known used to the Confederacy and this is one of only two showing conjunctive service with Adams Express (see Sale 846, lot 2444 for the other, which realized $13,500 hammer in our 2002 Rarities sale).
Special Routes census no. S-AD-73. Ex Dr. Roser, Gallagher and Rudy
VERY FINE. A UNIQUE COVER COMBINING A RARE 8-STAR CONFEDERATE FLAG DESIGN WITH ADAMS EXPRESS THROUGH-THE-LINES CARRIAGE AND CENSORSHIP BY CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES IN NASHVILLE.
The eighth star in this flag design represents the number of Confederate States from May 7 to May 18, 1861, and the F8-9 design is a rarity by itself. This is the only recorded 8-Star Flag cover carried by Adams Express, as well as the only recorded example of this censor marking on an Adams cover.
The traces of docketing indicate an August 3, 1861, origin date, which leaves four days between mailing and arrival in Louisville. The delay was probably due to censorship by the Vigilance Committee in Nashville. In western and central Tennessee the fear of pro-Union activism led to the formation of several local Committees of Safety and Vigilance from 1860 to 1862. They emerged as early as the 1860 election. When the war began, the committees set up a spy system, intercepted mail, inspected luggage, forced the enlistment of men into the Confederate Army, confiscated private property, and lynched Unionists. Even ex-President Buchanan's mail was subjected to censorship.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-57. Ex Freeland, Myers and Rudy. With 2004 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. ONE OF SIX RECORDED COVERS WITH THE 5-CENT NASHVILLE POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL USED IN COMBINATION WITH UNITED STATES POSTAGE.
Very few covers are recorded with Confederate provisional stamps or markings used in conjunction with across-the-lines express service. This group includes the provisionals of Atlanta (handstamp), Houston (handstamp), Lynchburg (press-printed entire), Memphis (adhesive), Mobile (adhesive), Montgomery (handstamp), Nashville (adhesive and handstamp) and New Orleans (adhesive).
This South-to-North express cover is one of six recorded with the 5c Nashville adhesive provisional and U.S. stamps used together. Five are listed in the Special Routes book -- census nos.
S-AD-38, N-AD-48, 73 (offered here), 81 and 83. A sixth cover came to light in recent years, which has a "The Southern Express Company" oval handstamp (both the marking and the cover were unknown to the authors at the time the Special Routes book was published). In addition to the 5c covers, there are three Nashville 10c provisional combinations carried by Adams (S-AD-44, 45 and 46). Adams was required to pay Confederate postage, but letters never actually entered the mails at Nashville.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-73. Illustrated in Shenfield book. Ex Shenfield, Gallagher and Rudy. With 2004 P.F. certificate
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 PRIVATE 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's 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, ex Dr. Brandon, Siegel Sale 1087, lot 59); N-AD-55 (letter dated July 24, Richmond date unclear, Louisville Aug. 7, the cover offered here); and N-AD-56 (Richmond Aug. 4, Louisville Aug. 7, Siegel Sale 1151, lot 1844). 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, Antrim and Walske
VERY FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESS USE FROM LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA. ONLY THREE COVERS FROM LYNCHBURG ARE RECORDED.
Only two other covers from Lynchburg sent north by Adams Express are recorded in the Special Routes census (N-AD-75 and N-PRE-23, Sale 801, lot 72). The "Paid 10" handstamp indicates prepayment of Confederate postage from Lynchburg to Nashville. From there Adams Express carried the letter to Louisville, where it was franked with valid postage and sent in the Federal mails to New York City. The 3c stamp affixed at Lynchburg was not accepted for postage.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-58. Ex Grunin, Gallagher, "Sevenoaks" and Schwartz
VERY FINE. ONE OF FIVE RECORDED ADAMS EXPRESS COVERS WITH THE INSTRUCTION LABEL FOR MAILING LETTERS TO THE CONFEDERATE STATES. ESPECIALLY DESIRABLE WITH THE
3-CENT 1857 STAMP.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-41. Ex Dr. Brandon
FINE. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, OFFICE HANDSTAMP AND, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A POSTAL STATIONERY COLLECTOR, A RARE ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS USE OF THE NESBITT ENTIRE.
The addressee, Commodore Robert F. Stockton, was a delegate to the unsuccessful Peace Conference of 1861 that attempted to settle the secession crisis; instead the American Civil War began later that year. In 1863 he was appointed to command the New Jersey militia when the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania. He died in 1866.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-19 (illustrated on p. 46). Ex Shenfield (and illustrated in his book, p. 22), Simon and Walske. Shenfield note on back "Only example known of Charlotte Adams office. Never saw another 1855 envelope used this way". Accompanied by a 1942 Stamps article by Lawrence L. Shenfield announcing the discovery of this cover.
FINE AND RARE EXAMPLE OF CENSORSHIP BY THE ADAMS EXPRESS AGENT OF CIVILIAN MAIL BETWEEN SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN CORRESPONDENTS.
This interesting pro-Confederate letter opens with comments on reported unreliability of American Letter Express and difficulty sending letters. The writer also describes watching the Battle of First Manassas. The last portion of the letter has been censored by being crossed out with squiggles and writing in a different pen (some ink bleed-through to front). The writer's reaction to the censorship in the letter can be found in the sister cover offered in the following lot, including "I do not like the espionage of Adams Express". The opening of mail, for censorship and espionage purposes, was a sore point with the civilian population. This reference to Adams Express opening and censoring mail is a significant contemporary account.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-66. Ex Gallagher. With 2005 C.S.A. certificate
VERY FINE AND RARE THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER BEARING POSTAGE OF THE 1861 ISSUE. THIS WAS POSSIBLE FOR ONLY A FEW DAYS IN LATE AUGUST, 1861. ALSO AN OUTSTANDING CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNT OF FRUSTRATION OVER CENSORSHIP OF CIVILIAN MAIL.
This letter was posted on August 22, four days before the August 26 prohibition of through-the-lines express mail. Through-the-lines express covers bearing 1861 Issue stamps are very rare as there was less than a one-week window from the date of issue to the prohibition. The Special Routes census records only three such covers with 1861 Issue stamps.
Special Routes census no. N-AX-12. Ex Knapp, MacBride, Roser and Gallagher
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY COVER CARRIED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS BETWEEN OFFICES IN NASHVILLE AND LOUISVILLE.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-31. Ex Solomon, Birkinbine and Walske
VERY FINE. ONE OF THREE RECORDED QUADRUPLE-RATE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY COVERS WITH THE 12-CENT 1857-60 ISSUE.
The Special Routes census lists three across-the-lines express covers with the 12c 1857-60 Issue. Two are quadruple 3c rates with a single 12c stamp (N-AD-17 and N-AD-32). The third is the iconic cover addressed to France with the 12c used with other 1857 Issue values (N-AD-65, ex Grunin, Martin, Schwartz and Gross).
Special Routes census no. N-AD-17. Ex "J&J" and Dr. Brandon. With 1989 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED USE OF THE 30-CENT 1860 ISSUE ON A COVER THAT WAS CARRIED ACROSS THE LINES BY EXPRESS AND THE ONLY RECORDED THROUGH-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER TO GERMANY.
This cover was posted from Confederate New Orleans and is franked to pay the 30c rate via Prussian Closed Mail. It was datestamped August 12 by Adams Express Company in Louisville, ten days prior to demonetization of the old stamps. The 30c stamp was probably applied at the Adams office in Louisville.
The Special Routes census records five foreign-bound across-the-lines express covers in the June 15-August 26 period, including three to France, one to Germany and one to Switzerland. This is the only cover to Germany and the only 30c cover among the five recorded.
Special Routes census no. N-AD-61. Ex Grunin and DuPuy. With 2011 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. A UNIQUE USE OF THIS COLORFUL COMBINATION OF 1857-60 ISSUE STAMPS TO PAY THE 35-CENT PRUSSIAN CLOSED MAIL RATE ON A LETTER TO SWITZERLAND, CARRIED ACROSS THE LINES BY EXPRESS FROM CONFEDERATE NEW ORLEANS TO LOUISVILLE AND THEN BY UNITED STATES MAIL TO SWITZERLAND.
This well-known Civil War period cover originated in Confederate New Orleans on August 13, 1861, and was sent inside an outer cover to Louisville, Kentucky, either by Adams Express Company or American Letter Express Company; noted expert Steven Walske thinks it was probably carried by American Letter Express in an outside envelope. At the Louisville express office, it was marked "Prus. Clos. Mail 35" and stamped with 35c postage for the Prussian Closed Mail rate. The express company did not apply a datestamp to cover before putting it into the Louisville post office for transmission by U.S. mail to New York City, the port of departure. From New York it was probably carried on the HAPAG Line's Bavaria, departing August 24.
After the suspension of mail service between the U.S. and Confederate States, U.S. stamps affixed to mail originating in the Confederate States were considered contraband and not accepted at the Louisville post office, which required express companies to affix stamps from their own supplies. The demonetization of old U.S. stamps in the North went into effect shortly after this cover was mailed from Louisville. The exchange period in Louisville began August 22 for three days; beginning on August 25, stamps other than the new 1861 Issue would no longer be accepted by the Louisville post office.
The Special Routes census records five foreign-bound across-the-lines express covers in the June 15-August 26 period, including three to France, one to Germany and one to Switzerland. This is the only cover to Switzerland and the only one with any of these 1857-60 Issue denominations (1c, 10c or 24c).
Special Routes census no. N-AX-11. Ex Gibson and Dr. Kapiloff. With 2008 P.F. certificate
FRESH AND VERY FINE. ONE OF THREE RECORDED EXAMPLES OF THE NASHVILLE CIRCULAR "PAID 5" PROVISIONAL HANDSTAMP ON AN ACROSS-THE-LINES EXPRESS COVER AND THE ONLY COVER WITH ALL MARKINGS ON THE FACE.
Of the 31 recorded North-to-South covers carried by American Letter Express Co. in the Special Routes census, only three have the "Nashville T. Paid 5" provisional handstamp. Those put into the mails at Nashville usually have the "Paid" straightline in combination with "5" or "10" rate handstamps.
Special Routes census no. S-AX-12. Ex Ackerman, Knapp, Grant, Meroni, Everett and Walske
VERY FINE. ONE OF TWO RECORDED COVERS CARRIED ACROSS THE LINES BY WHITESIDES EXPRESS FROM NASHVILLE TO KENTUCKY, AFTER SUSPENSION OF MAIL SERVICE BETWEEN THE NORTH AND SOUTH. AN IMPORTANT CIVIL WAR POSTAL HISTORY RARITY.
The label reads: "PRIVATE LETTER MA1L. [sic]/ Direct each letter to your correspondent as/ usual, envelope that with 15 cents in money and/ direct to/ B. WHITESIDES,/ Franklin, Ky./ Letters exceeding half an ounce or going over/ 500 miles must have additional amount enclosed./ For single Newspapers enclose 10 cents." There is a typographic error in the label: the numeral "1" is substituted for "I" of "Mail". Interestingly, the only other Whitesides label we record (Sale 1105, lot 2568, ex Walske and Bailar) does not contain the typographical error.
An advertisement for express mail service to the seceded states was first published by M. D. Whiteside (without the "s") on June 22, 1861, in the Louisville Daily Journal. M. D. (Marquis de Lafayette) Whiteside was the nephew of Berry Whitesides, whose initial and name with an "s" appear on this label. After the late Scott Gallagher acquired this cover, he visited Franklin, Kentucky, and interviewed descendants of Berry Whitesides, who explained the relationship between M. D. and Berry and confirmed the existence of a contraband and letter express operated by the two during the spring and summer months of 1861.
It is significant that the advertisements under M. D. Whiteside's name specify lower rates than those printed on this Berry Whitesides label (10c vs. 15c for letters, 5c vs. 10c for newspapers). The Berry Whitesides rates on the label are identical to the American Letter Express rates advertised on June 15, which leads us to speculate that either a) Berry ran his express independent of M. D.'s, at least for a while (thus the difference in name), or b) Berry had labels printed with the higher rates, which were lowered to compete with American Letter Express and Adams Express.
According to Brooks's American Letter Express Company: "Whiteside had his messenger use the Upper Turnpike out of Louisville to Franklin, Ky., where he lived. He travelled from Louisville to Bardstown, Ky., to New Haven, Buffalo, Glasgow, Scottsville, and Franklin, Ky., and thence to Gallatin, and Nashville, Tenn. His main stop was Franklin, since it was only four miles from the State Line. He used a Confederate friend and sympathizer to carry the mail across the border to Tennessee. Sometimes the messenger himself picked out certain letters to deliver personally since be knew they contained United States currency or checks to pay for United States stamps -- which certain Southern Postmasters were selling at a discount of 50 per cent. The messenger received 10 per cent for his services. This smuggling commonly was known as the 'Grapevine.'"
Based on other known express covers, it took approximately four to five days for a letter sent from New Orleans to reach Louisville, which would give this June 10 mailing an arrival date of approximately June 15 (there is no Louisville circular datestamp). It reached Nashville after the last regular mail was carried by the U.S. mail agent and was given to Whitesides by the Nashville postmaster. As evidenced by Precursor express covers, companies were carrying mail across the lines months prior to their advertised commencement dates.
This cover was discovered in a collection by William O. Bilden and has his notes on back. There are no recorded southbound Whitesides Express covers, and they might be impossible to identify if labels were not applied to southbound mail. The two recorded northbound Whitesides Express covers each have the printed label. The other recorded cover was carried by Whitesides to Franklin, Kentucky, and was posted there for mailing to New York with the 3c U.S. postage fully prepaid.
Special Routes census no. N-WE-1 and illustrated on p. 17. Ex Bilden and Gallagher. With 1998 P.F. certificate