Sale 988 — The Steven C. Walske Collection of Civil War Special Routes

Sale Date — Thursday, 27 May, 2010

Category — Louisiana Relief Committee Mail

Lot
Symbol
Photo/Description
Cat./Est. Value
Realized
291
c
Sale 988, Lot 291, Louisiana Relief Committee Mail10c Greenish Blue, Die B (12c). Two large margins, cut in at bottom and touched at left, tied by "Shreveport La. Oct. (date?) 1863" circular datestamp on yellow cover carried by Louisiana Relief Committee from a Confederate prisoner in New Orleans, then by C.S.A. Trans-Mississippi mail to Camden, Arkansas, west of the Mississippi, sender's endorsement "From Lieut. Col. Lee, 15th Ark. Regt., Prisoner of War, 21 Rampart St. N.O. La." and addressed to his wife, Mrs. Paul Lynch Lee, at Camden, back of cover with manuscript "Forwarded by the Louisiana Committee at Mobile" and manuscript "Appd. J C Denis PMG" censor marking applied by Mobile Provost Marshal Jules C. Denis, slightly reduced and tiny edge tear at right

VERY FINE. AN IMPORTANT POSTAL ARTIFACT OF THE CIVIL WAR, BEING THE ONLY RECORDED COVER CARRIED BY THE LOUISIANA RELIEF COMMITTEE OUT OF NEW ORLEANS AND THEN TO A DESTINATION WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

This remarkable cover combines three extraordinary aspects of postal communication during the Civil War. To start, it is an extremely rare example of mail clearly identifiable as originating from a Confederate prisoner held at 21 Rampart Street prison in New Orleans. Second, it was carried from New Orleans to Mobile on a Louisiana Relief Committee trip. Third, it was carried west across the Mississippi River, which was controlled by Federal naval forces, and entered the C.S.A. postal system at Shreveport, Louisiana.

The sender, C.S.A. Lt. Col. Paul Lynch Lee, was a member of the 15th Arkansas Regiment. He enlisted on Oct. 22, 1861, at his home town of Camden, Arkansas and was promoted to Colonel one year later. Col. Lee was captured on Feb. 6, 1862, at Fort Henry, Tennessee, and sent to the U.S. military prison at Alton, Illinois, then to Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 28, 1862. He was transferred to Fort Warren, Massachusetts, on April 8, 1862, then to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, on July 31, 1862, where he was exchanged. The Port Hudson Hospital Ledger dated May 27,1863, lists Col. Lee with a wound in his leg. While hospitalized, Col. Lee struck a private with his crutches and was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer. We do not know the outcome of the incident, but Col. Lee returned to battle and was captured on July 9, 1863, at Port Hudson, Louisiana. He and 403 other C.S.A. officers were sent to New Orleans. Col. Lee was imprisoned at the Customs House in New Orleans from July 16 to Sep. 16, 1863. On Sep. 17 he was moved to 21 Rampart Street, where he stayed until early October. Col. Lee was transferred to Fort Columbus in New York Harbor, then to Johnson's Island, Point Lookout and Fort Delaware. He was released on June 13, 1865.

The Louisiana Relief Committee was formed on May 31, 1863, by a group of expatriate New Orleans citizens in Mobile, Alabama, to alleviate the suffering of poor citizens who remained in U.S.-occupied New Orleans. 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. authorities. Jules C. Denis, C.S.A. provost marshal at Mobile, examined the southbound letters. The U.S. also used these trips to transmit flag-of-truce mail to and from prisoners in New Orleans.

Once this cover reached Mobile, it was stamped and bundled with letters bound for points west of the Mississippi, then sent to the eastern terminus of the government trans-Mississippi mails at Meridien, Mississippi. Once the courier carried the mail across the river, the letters were unbundled and postmarked at the western terminus at Shreveport, Louisiana, and from there this cover traveled by rail to Camden, Arkansas.

Illustrated in Special Routes (p. 79). Ex Kohlhepp (see his article on this cover in Confederate Philatelist, Sep.-Oct. 1980, No. 197) and Birkinbine. With 1976 P.F. certificate

E. 7,500-10,000
4,250