Table Of Contents
- Prewar Setting
- Outline of Military History
- Confederate Postmaster
- Confederate Mail Routes
- Mail Schedule and Regulations
- CSA Postmarks
- US Postage Used
- Stampless Period
- CSA General Issues
- Soldier’s Due Covers
- (PAID)10 = (DUE)10
- Anomalous Date
- Mail During Siege
- US Occupation Period
- Through-the-Lines Mail
- Links and Requests
Vicksburg is located on the Mississippi River in west-central Mississippi, about 45 miles west of Jackson. The city is about 220 miles south of Memphis and 210 miles north of New Orleans. It was built on loess bluffs that extend as much as 200 feet above the river. At the beginning of the Civil War, Vicksburg, which was among the largest cities in the state at the time, was the commercial, financial, and social center for the region. The city supplied products and services to people in nearby towns and on plantations in western Mississippi, northeastern Louisiana, and southeastern Arkansas. Vicksburg was a major landing for steamboats traveling between Memphis and New Orleans and other cities north of Memphis in the Mississippi River drainage basin.
Cotton was the most valuable farm commodity produced in the Vicksburg area. Large quantities of cotton were shipped on steamboats from Vicksburg to New Orleans for shipment to factories in the northern United States and Europe. In 1860, the Vicksburg, Jackson & Brandon Railroad ran from Vicksburg east to Jackson and Brandon, Mississippi. Later, this railroad was completed to Meridian, Mississippi, and beyond and was called the Southern Railroad. This railroad connected with the New Orleans & Great Northern Railroad at Jackson and the Mobile & Ohio Railroad at Meridian. By 1860, the Vicksburg & Shreveport Railroad was completed from Vicksburg as far west as Monroe, Louisiana. It also was known as the Vicksburg & Texas Railroad.
The Southern Railroad and the Vicksburg & Texas Railroad terminated at the Mississippi River. A connection across the river between Vicksburg and DeSoto, Louisiana, was made by ferry. Besides being a more convenient means of transportation than by stagecoach, wagon, or horseback, these railroads transported cotton to Vicksburg from inland points for shipment on steamboats down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.
Early during the Civil War, at least 16 companies of infantry, 4 companies of cavalry, and 3 companies of artillery were organized at Vicksburg or in Warren County. However, most of these troops served at places as far away as Virginia. Initially, Vicksburg was minimally fortified with state militia to control river traffic. After the fall of New Orleans in late April 1862 and Memphis in early June 1862, Confederate regiments were ordered to Vicksburg and the fortifications were strengthen and expanded. The advance force of Union lower fleet coming up the Mississippi River from New Orleans reached Vicksburg on May 18, 1862, and surrender of the city was demanded. On or about May 27, 1862, the Union fleet began intermittent bombardment of the fortifications and the city from a distance to avoid the risk of getting within range of the large guns on the bluffs at the Confederate fortifications. Construction of a canal across the peninsular of land formed by the sharp bend in the Mississippi in front of Vicksburg was begun by the Union army under the command of General Williams using slaves from nearby plantations. This canal was intended to provide passage for gunboats and transports at a location south of Vicksburg out-of-reach of the Confederate guns.
The most intense bombardment of the fortifications and the city occurred on June 28-July 2, 1862, while much of the lower fleet under the command of Flag-Officer Farragut passed up the Mississippi River in front of Vicksburg. The upper fleet under the command of Flag-Officer Davis arrived from Memphis on July 1. On July 11-15, 1862, the Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas under the command of Captain Isaac N. Brown came down the Yazoo River from Yazoo City and fought her way through the Union fleet. The ram docked at Vicksburg under the protection of the Confederate fortifications. It was unsuccessfully attacked on July 22. Not having an army large enough to make a land assault on the fortified city and with Mississippi River stages falling, the Union fleet gave up its river siege. On July 24, 1862, the lower fleet left for New Orleans, and the upper fleet left its position before Vicksburg in preparation for returning to Memphis on July 27. The ram Arkansas was ordered to Baton Rouge to support an army under the command of General Breckenridge sent to relieve that city from Union occupation. The Arkansas left Vicksburg on August 3, 1862. On the passage down, the ram developed engine problems and near Baton Rouge was set afire to prevent capture, and it blew up on August 6, 1862.
Although the Union fleet conducted some amphibious operations on the Mississippi River in the late summer and fall of 1862, it was not until late December that the Union fleet and army began to concentrate before Vicksburg. This was at a time when General Grant was withdrawing his army from its advance down the Mississippi Central Railroad in northern Mississippi. The beginning of this campaign against Vicksburg was an advance of Union troops led by General Sherman in an attempt to get to the back of Vicksburg by a northern land route. This advance resulted in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou December 26, 1862 — January 3, 1863, which was a Union defeat.
After his withdrawal from northern Mississippi, General Grant proceeded to Vicksburg to take command of the Union army in late January 1863. During the ensuing months, General Grant made several attempts but could not find a way to make an assault on Vicksburg by approaches north of the city. In the meantime, he unsuccessfully tried to have the canal across the peninsular in front of Vicksburg completed and also to find passage around Vicksburg to the west through the swampy land and bayous in Louisiana. In mid to late April 1863, General Grant was able to get some of his troops south of Vicksburg through this swampy land, and part of the Union fleet and the army transports were able to pass the fortifications at Vicksburg.
On April 30, 1863, General Grant’s army made an amphibious landing across the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg Landing south of Vicksburg. As a consequence, the Battle of Port Gibson was fought on May 1. After winning this battle, the Union army proceeded northeast toward Jackson. The Battle of Raymond was fought on May 12, after which the Confederates fell back to Jackson. The Battle of Jackson was fought on May 14, 1863, and the city was occupied for a day and laid waste. General Grant then turned his army westward in the direction of Vicksburg. The Battle of Champion Hill was fought May 16, 1863, and the Battle of Big Black River Bridge on May 17. After these battles, General Pemberton withdrew the Confederate army into “Fortress Vicksburg” on May 18. The Confederate army then was surrounded with the Union fleet on the west and the Union army on the east. General Grant’s army made two assaults on May 19 and May 22 against Vicksburg without being able to break through the defenses. The Siege of Vicksburg lasted 47 days until General Pemberton finally surrendered the Confederate army on July 4, 1863.
View map of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign
William B. Sloan was postmaster at Vicksburg during the Confederate period. He had been appointed U.S. Postmaster at Vicksburg March 27, 1856. In the 1850 census, William B. Sloan, age 38, born in New Jersey, was listed as a lawyer. His household included Eliza Sloan, age 56, born in New Jersey, who apparently was his mother or aunt. In the 1860 census, Wm. B Sloan, age 45, born in New Jersey, had no occupation listed, although he was serving as postmaster. Eliza Sloan, age 67, born in New Jersey, also was listed in his household.
When Mississippi seceded from the Confederacy, William B. Sloan continued service as postmaster. The Confederate Senate approved Sloan’s appointment as postmaster at Vicksburg on April 19, 1862. He must have served as Confederate postmaster for as long as it was possible for the post office to remain in operation up to the siege of Vicksburg May 18 – July 4, 1863. William B. Sloan died at Vicksburg on July 26, 1869, at about 57-years old. He had bought a lot in Cedar Hill Cemetery at Vicksburg in 1862 (perhaps at the death of his mother or aunt). William B. Sloan is believed to be buried in this lot, but there is no stone or monument.
The Vicksburg Post Office distributed mail along local mail routes originating from the city to parts of western Mississippi, northeastern Louisiana, and southeastern Arkansas. Much of this mail was carried by steamboats, although some was carried overland by carriage or hack. Steamboats on the Mississippi River were the principal mode of transporting mail to Vicksburg before New Orleans surrendered to the Federal fleet on April 29, 1862, and Memphis on June 6, 1862. After the surrender of these cities, many steamboats below Memphis fled for safety up the Red River in Louisiana and Yazoo River in Mississippi. The secondary mode of transporting mail was by the railroads that ran east-west from Vicksburg to Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi, and from Vicksburg to Monroe, Louisiana. At times when the Mississippi River was under control of the federal fleet, the primary mode of transporting mail was by railroad from Vicksburg to Jackson and Meridian.
ROUTE 600. (7405)
From Vicksburg, by Warrenton, to Rocky Springs,
27 miles and back, twice a week,
Leave Vicksburg Monday and Thursday at 1 p.m.
Arrive at Rocky Springs same days at 9 p.m..
Leave Rocky Springs Monday and Thursday at 4 a.m.
Arrive at Vicksburg same days by 12 p.m.
ROUTE 760. (7660)
From Vicksburg, by Satartia, to Yazoo City, 50 miles
and back twice a week.
Leave Vicksburg Monday and Thursday at 6 a.m.
Arrive at Yazoo City next days by 10 p.m.
Leave Yazoo City Wednesday and Saturday at 6 a.m.
Arrive at Vicksburg next days by 10 p.m.
ROUTE 761. (8167)
From Vicksburg by Skipwith’s Landing, Millikens
Bend (La.), Pecan Grove, Tallula (Miss.), Lake
Providence (La.), Carolina Landing (Miss.), Grand
Lake, (Ark.), Point Washington (Miss.), Granicus,
Greenville, Columbia (Ark.), Eunice, Gaster’s Landing
and Concordia (Miss.) to Napoleon
(Ark.), 230 miles and back, three times a week, in
Leave Vicksburg Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12 m.
Arrive at Napoleon next days by 6 p.m.
Leave Napoleon Monday, Wednesday and Friday at
Arrive at Vicksburg next days by 10 a.m.The Eastern Clarion, May 2, 1862.
As the Southern Railroad mail arrives now at night, the office will be opened and closed until further notice as follows:
During the week, opened at 7½, A.M., and closed at 3½, P.M., on Sundays, opened from 9 to 10 o’clock, A.M.
SCHEDULE OF MAILSThe mail from the Southern Railroad will be opened between 7 and 8 A.M. and closed as follows: That part going East, to Meridian, not except the stations, will be made up beginning at 9, A.M. The mail for the Central Railroad, and New Orleans and Jackson Railroad, excepting the stations immediately upon said roads, will be made up, beginning at 9½, A.M. The stations on said road will be made up after the above mails are finished, at 11, A.M. The stations on the Southern Railroad, such as Bovina, Edward’s, Bolton’s, Raymond, Clinton, Jackson, Brandon, Meridian, &c., made up at 12, M.
The mail for Mobile, Ala., and Richmond, Va., at 12 M.
The Louisiana mail, by the Shreveport and Texas Railroad, arrives at 8 P.M., Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday, and is opened between 7 and 8, A.M., the next days.
Departs at 7, A.M., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In this mail, we receive and send Northern Louisiana, most of Texas, and a great portion of Arkansas. It is made up the evening previous to its departure, to wit: Thursday, Tuesday and Saturday.
- Persons mailing letters will purchase stamps and put them on their letters and deposit them in the letter box, and not pay for them at the windows.
- All letters should be dropped in the letter box, and not handed in at the windows, or laid down in the office.
- Persons will not mark on their letters “charge box,” &c., but will purchase stamps and put on their letters. Hereafter all such letters will be treated as unpaid, and sent to dead letter office.
- Members of regiments, battalions, &c., having postmasters or mail carriers, will not call at the office for letters, as they will only be delivered to such postmasters and carriers.
- Those calling for advertised letters will always say they are advertised, and give the date they were so advertised.
- The postage on a single letter anywhere in the Confederacy is ten cents; on newspaper two cents. All postage must be paid in advance, unless soldier’s letters endorsed with their name and regiment. Newspapers must be paid, and cannot be endorsed as letters.
- Persons should not enter inside the office unless on special business. No one is allowed to handle the letters and papers of the office, nor to look in the letter-wheel for themselves.Vicksburg Daily Whig, December 31, 1862.
Four postmarks were used at Vicksburg during the “U.S. Postage Used After Secession” and Confederate periods — after Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861, and until the beginning of the land-based siege of Vicksburg on May 18, 1863.
A small (25-26 millimeter) VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark without a year date was recorded on covers mailed during a period from early February to mid-August 1861. This postmark, of prewar manufacture, was placed into use in 1860. A similar, small (25-26mm) VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark with a year date was recorded on covers mailed during a period from mid-August 1861 to probably as late as early May 1863. These two postmarks were thought to have been made with the same device with the year date added, or they could have been made with two different devices. Measuring the outer circles of these postmarks on covers and overlaying tracings or acetate copies of the postmarks did not resolve this question because of many smudged or incomplete strikes. The diameters of the outer circles of these postmarks varied from 25 to 26 mm, depending on the positions measured.
Overlaying tracings and acetate copies of the two VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmarks show that the spacing of the letters in “VICKSBURG” and “MISS” match reasonably well. In regards to the postmark without a year date, a horizontal line drawn from the “V” to the “G” in “VICKSBURG” falls approximately across the month date. In the postmark with a year date, the month and day date are at a position higher in the postmark to make room for the year- date logo. Consequently, a horizontal line drawn from the “V” to the “G” in “VICKSBURG” falls approximately between the month and day dates. Based on these facts and the measurements, a conclusion could be reached that both of these postmarks were made with the same postmark device with the year date added.
For examples of the double-circle postmark, see: Stampless Period Covers.
This conclusion, however, is complicated by the fact that a VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark without a year date is known used on two folded letters mailed in early January 1862. One is dated “December 28th 1861” and postmarked JAN/4, and the other is dated “Dec. 30, 1861” and postmarked JAN/7. Both of these folded letters were handstamped PAID 5 to indicate 5¢ Confederate postage paid. This postmark dated JAN/6 also is on an overall advertisement cover with an enclosed letter headed “Vicksburg Jan’y 6, 1862.” The positioning of the month and day dates in the postmark confirms that it is the double-circle postmark without a year date.
The VICKSBURG/MISS postmark without a year date (dated JAN/6) also was recorded on an 11-star patriotic cover franked with a Confederate 5¢ green lithograph stamp canceled with a 10 in circle. The VICKSBURG/MISS postmark with a year date (dated JAN/3/186-) was recorded on a folded letter with a 5¢ green lithograph stamp canceled with a 10 in circle. This postmark (dated JAN/8/1862) also was recorded on a cover handstamped PAID to indicate 5¢ postage was paid.
The early January 1862 usage of the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark without a year date on the two folded letters, the advertisement cover, and the patriotic cover was nearly five months after the mid-August 1861 change from a postmark without a year date to the one with a year date and was during a period when the postmark with a year date was in common use. Therefore, these usages lead to the conclusion that two postmark devices were in use rather than one, unless the year-date logo was removed for the short period from January 4 to January 7, 1862, which seems unlikely.
For examples of late use of double-circle postmark without year date, see: Late Use of Postmark Without Year Date
A large (32 mm) VICKSBURGH/MISS. single-circle postmark with no month, day, or year dates probably was used only for a relatively short time. This postmark, of prewar manufacture, previously was used from 1857 to 1860. At that time, month and day dates were present. Confederate use is known from an invalid U.S. 3¢ star-die stamped envelope used as a soldier’s cover handstamped with the (Due) 10 (bold numeral) to show 10¢ postage due. Private A. Parritt, Company B, 27th Louisiana Infantry endorsed this soldier’s cover. The 27th Louisiana arrived at Vicksburg on May 4, 1862, and Private Parritt died at Vicksburg on December 21, 1862.
The VICKSBURGH/MISS. single-circle postmark with no dates also is known used on an invalid U.S. 3¢ star-die stamped envelope franked with a Confederate 10¢ rose lithograph with an earliest known usage of March 10, 1862. The first recorded use of the 10¢ rose in Mississippi is mid-June 1862, and the latest recorded use is early November 1862. Based on incomplete or illegible dates in the postmarks on recorded covers, the 10¢ rose probably was used at Vicksburg during June-July 1862. These dates, along with the data from the soldier’s cover, suggest that this prewar VICKSBURGH/Miss. postmark was used at an overtaxed post office during the latter part of the naval siege of Vicksburg May 18–July 27, 1862.
A large (30 mm) VICKSBURG/MISS single-circle postmark with month, day, and year dates was placed into use in early May 1863. This postmark (along with rate-marking handstamps) was ordered from the Confederate Post Office Department on April 15, 1863. The order was addressed to “Mr. J. Baumgarten, Contractor.” Julius Baumgarten prepared postmarks and other handstamps for many towns in the Confederacy. This single-circle postmark with sanserif town and state name is typical of the postmarks made by Baumgarten. The earliest recorded use of the VICKSBURG/MISS single-circle postmark with month, day, and year dates is May 6, 1863. This indicates that the manufacture and delivery time of the postmark and other handstamps from Baumgarten was less than a month. The latest recorded use is May 11, although this postmark probably was used until the beginning of the land-based siege of Vicksburg May 18, 1863.
For examples of the late single-circle postmark, see: 5¢ Blue Typographs with Late CSA Postmark
Covers recorded from the collections of Confederate Stamp Alliance members and from auction catalogs indicate that during the period of “U. S. Postage Used After Secession” Postmaster Sloan’s supply of stamps and stamped envelopes consisted primarily of the U.S. 3¢ dull red stamp and the U.S. 3¢ red star-die and “Nesbitt” envelopes. This period lasted from January 9, 1861 (when Mississippi seceded from the Union) to May 31, 1861 (the day before the Confederate Post Office Department took over operation of the postal system).
Eleven covers showing usage of the U.S. 3¢ dull red stamp were recorded with postmarks dated MAR/7, MAR/25, MAR/30, APR/6, APR/11, APR/13, APR/24, APR/27, APR/–, MAY/5, and MAY/11 (1861), and one cover with four U.S 3¢ rose-brown stamps dated FEB/21. Twelve covers showing usage of the 3¢ red star-die envelopes were recorded – one cover with the postmark dated FEB/2 (1861) during the period of “U.S. Postage Used in Independent State” (from January 9 to February 3, 1861), and eleven covers with the postmark dated MAR/7, MAR/12, MAR/25, APR/1, APR/5, APR/9, APR/11 (2), APR/23, APR/29, and MAY/31 (1861) during the period of “U.S. Postage Used in Confederate State” (from February 4 to May 31, 1861). One U. S. 3¢ red “Nesbitt” stamped envelope was recorded with the postmark dated FEB/15 (1861). The postage on at least eight of these covers or stamped envelopes were canceled with a grid killer, two with a PAID handstamp, and one with a target killer.
No Confederate postage stamps were available after the Confederate Post Office Department assumed operation of the postal system on June 1, 1861, so postmasters had to use handstamp or manuscript markings to indicate postage paid (or due) during the Confederate stampless period. On June 1, the Confederate postage rates also took effect. Single-rate postage was 5¢ for letters weighing less than half an ounce and sent distances less than 500 miles. Double-rate postage was 10¢ for letters weighing more than a half ounce or sent distances more than 500 miles.
PAID 5 and PAID 10 (the PAID and the 5 and 10 were applied with separate handstamp markers) were used at Vicksburg to indicate Confederate postage paid. Twenty-two covers with handstamped PAID 5 markings were recorded. Postmarks on nineteen of these covers are dated JUN/6, AUG/2, AUG/10, AUG/20, SEP/8/1861 (2), SEP/17/1861, SEP/23/1861, OCT/4/1861, NOV/29/1861, DEC/3/1861, DEC/26/1861, JAN/4, JAN/7, JAN/8/1862, FEB/6/1862, FEB/15/1862, FEB/18/1862, and MAR/22/1862. Six covers with handstamped PAID 10 markings were recorded. Postmarks on these covers are dated JUN/–, JUN/7, JUL/23, AUG/18/1861, OCT/–/1861, and DEC/13/1861. One cover with the postmark dated SEP/7/1861 is handstamped PAID with no rate indicated
The Confederate stampless period at Vicksburg lasted from June 1, 1861, to December 27, 1861, when the first Confederate 5¢ green lithograph stamp was recorded used on cover.
The first recorded use of a Confederate stamp at Vicksburg was the 5¢ green lithograph on a cover with the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark dated DEC/27/1861. Seven other covers with the 5¢ green lithograph were recorded with the postmarks dated JAN/3/186-, JAN/6, JAN/16/—-, FEB/21/1862, APR/10/1862, MAY/5/1862, and MAY/18/1862. The stamp on the cover dated DEC/27/1861 was canceled with an additional strike of the postmark, the stamps on the covers dated JAN/3/186- and JAN/6 were canceled with the 10 in circle handstamp, and the stamps on the covers dated JAN/16/—-, FEB/21/1862, APR/10/1862, MAY/5/1862, and MAY/18/1862 were canceled with the “segmented” grid. This indicates that Postmaster Sloan or his mail clerk were utilizing all of the handstamp devices available to him to process the mail. Five folded letters or covers handstamped PAID 5 with postmarks dated JAN/4, JAN/7, JAN/8/1862, FEB/6/1862, FEB/15/1862, and MAR/22/1862 were recorded. This intermittent use of the PAID 5 handstamps indicate that supplies of the 5¢ green lithograph stamps must have been in short supply at some times between January 6 and May 18, 1862, and Postmaster Sloan must have had to revert back to use of handstamp devices. Usage of the 10¢ blue lithograph, Hoyer and Ludwig printing, was recorded on a cover postmarked on MAR/4/1862 and from a stamp with a SOUTHERN EXPRESS/VICKSBURG cancel dated MAR/12 (1862).
The next Confederate stamp used at Vicksburg was the 5¢ blue lithograph. Three usages the 5¢ blue lithograph were recorded — a single on an invalid 3¢ star-die envelope with the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark dated JUN/–/1862, a pair on a folded letter dated in August 1862 (from description in auction catalog), and a pair on cover docketed “Rec’d Oct the 4th 1862.” The 5¢ blue typograph, London printing, was recorded on covers with postmarks dated JUN/12/1862, JUN/20/1862, and JUN/30/1862. This stamp also was recorded on eight covers with docketing showing they were received between August 30 and November 1862. Dates in the postmarks of two other covers were illegible from the illustrations in auction catalogs. However, the use of pairs of the 5¢ blue typograph, London printing, on these covers to pay postage to places at distances less than 500 miles suggests that the illegible dates in the postmarks were on or after July 1, 1862, when the rate changed to 10¢ regardless of distance.
The 10¢ rose lithograph was recorded on four covers. From descriptions and illustrations in auction catalogs, three of these covers have the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark with indistinct —/–/1862, JU-/–/—-, and JU-/25/18– dates. Another cover with the 10¢ rose lithograph was on an invalid 3¢ red star-die envelope postmarked with the prewar VICKSBURGH/MISS. single-circle postmark without dates. Research suggests that the 10¢ rose was used at Vicksburg June-July 1862. Usage of the 2¢ green lithograph was recorded from a stamp on a piece with the VICKSBURG/MISS postmark dated JUL/25, but the year date is not apparent.
Other stamps recorded on covers postmarked at Vicksburg were the 10¢ blue lithograph, Paterson printing, on 19 covers with some docketed dates from August 14, 1862, to March 23, 1863, and the 5¢ blue typograph, Richmond printing, on 32 covers with dates from December 1862 (docketed date) to May 11, 1863 (postmark date). Typically, dates in the VICKSBURG/MISS postmarks on covers with the 10¢ blue lithograph, Paterson printing, and the 5¢ blue typograph, Richmond printing, are illegible or not apparent. However, several covers with the 5¢ blue typograph, Richmond printing, with the late VICKSBURG/MISS. single-circle postmark have month, day, and year dates. This postmark was put into use in early May 1863.
From about 40 covers of 80 recorded covers with stamps and believable dates in the postmarks (see section: “Anomalous Date in Postmark”), manuscript docketing, or dated enclosures, the usage dates of the Confederate stamps at Vicksburg can be approximated:
5¢ green lithograph – late December 1861 to mid-May 1862
10¢ blue lithograph, Hoyer & Ludwig printing – March 1862
5¢ blue lithograph – June to early October 1862
10¢ rose lithograph – June-July 1862
5¢ blue typograph, London printing – mid-June to November 1862
2¢ green lithograph – late July 1862
10¢ blue lithograph, Paterson printing – mid-August 1862 to late March 1863
5¢ blue typograph, Richmond printing – December 1862 to mid-May 1863
The 5¢ green lithograph, 5¢ blue lithograph, and 5¢ blue typograph, London printing, stamps on at least six recorded covers dated between mid-January and September 1862 are canceled with a “segmented” grid killer that had been used previously during the “U.S. Postage Used After Secession” period. Other killers used to cancel these stamps were the handstamped PAID and 10 rate markings used during the Confederate stampless period.
View the 5¢ Green Lithograph on Cover
View the 5¢ Blue Lithograph on Cover
View the 10¢ Rose Lithograph on Cover
Many letters from soldiers were received as “due” mail with the postage paid by the recipient. The covers of this postage “due” mail were endorsed by the soldiers with their name and unit as required by law for this privilege. At Vicksburg, two handstamps were used to indicate postage due on soldier’s mail – a (Due) 10 (bold numeral) and a DUE/10 (in arc).
Determining the period of usage of these handstamps with any confidence was not possible, because of the anomalous JUL/25 date in the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark (see section “Anomalous Date in Postmark”). In addition, the date in the postmark on many covers is illegible or not apparent and the soldier’s covers generally lack date docketing or dated enclosures.
The (Due) 10 (bold) was recorded used on soldier’s covers from July 25, 1862, to March 10, 1863, but it probably was used as late as early May 1863. Strikes of the (Due) 10 (bold) are commonly smudged, distorted, or only partial. The July 25, 1862 date is based on a docketed cover from an officer on board the gunboat Arkansas (at Vicksburg July 15–August 3, 1862). Another soldier’s cover with this marking has docketing that suggests usage in late April 1863.
The DUE/10 (in arc) probably was placed into use along with the VICKSBURG/MISS. single-circle postmark in early May 1863.
The (PAID) 10 in circle used during the Confederate stampless period and the (Due) 10 used on soldier’s covers probably were made by the same handstamp device. As illustrated in The New Dietz Confederate States Catalog and Handbook (p. 74), the (Due)10 appears to have been made by an improvised woodcut handstamp. The (Due) 10 on 20 recorded covers for which images were available is rarely as clear as The New Dietz illustration.
Six recorded covers indicate that the PAID with the 10 in circle was used from June 7, 1861, to December 13, 1861, to show Confederate postage paid on covers sent distances that exceeded 500 miles. The 10 in circle also was recorded used as a killer to cancel the 5¢ green lithograph stamp on a folded letter and patriotic cover in early January 1862. By July 1862 lint and ink must have accumulated on the face of the handstamp or the circle in the handstamp may have worn down to a point that the circle did not strike the paper evenly. The volume of soldier’s due mail generated during the first naval siege of Vicksburg May 18-July 27, 1862, undoubtedly was large and could have contributed to the unclean condition or wear of this rate marking device.
The (Due) 10 (bold numeral) was recorded on covers as early as July 25, 1862, and as late as March 10, 1863, but the handstamp probably was used as late as early May 1863. The bold (Due) 10 on at least four covers show “hints” of the circle of the (PAID) 10. Overlaying tracings of the (PAID) 10 in circle from covers postmarked June 7, 1861, and December 13, 1861, over the bold (Due) 10 on these four covers indicate that the “hints” of the circle compare in size and location and the numerals make a reasonable match.
After July 25, 1862, the same date logo remained in the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark for as long as it was in use. This postmark was recorded on 50 covers that can be dated after July 25, 1862. Although the dates in the postmarks on many of these covers were unreadable or not apparent, partial month or day dates in various combinations can be read in some postmarks: JUL/25, JUL/–, J–/25, JU-/2-, J–/2-, and –/25. Some of these dates could easily be misinterpreted as JAN/23, JAN/25, JUN/23, or JUN/25. The positioning of the month date in these postmarks compared to strikes of the early double-circle VICKSBURG/MISS postmark that had no year date indicates that the year-date type was present but was not printing. Perhaps, the date logo had worn down to a point that when the postmark was struck the year-date type was not in contact with the paper.
For about two months preceding July 25, 1862, the Union fleet on the Mississippi River had frequently bombarded the Confederate defensive batteries and the City of Vicksburg. On or about July 1, after an intense bombardment while the fleet passed the batteries going up river, the Vicksburg post office and the telegraph office were moved outside of the city to a place of safety. On July 24, 1862, part of the Union fleet left Vicksburg going south to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and on July 25 the other part left its position before Vicksburg in preparation for going north to Memphis on July 27. On July 24, the city underwent the last bombardment during this naval siege on the Mississippi River. Perhaps, an accident happened on or about July 25 that resulted in losing the date type or damaging the mortise in the postmark so that the date type could not be changed.
The earliest dates on which the 50 covers could have been mailed would be the dates of earliest known usage (EKU) of the stamps or the dates on which the military units given in the endorsements of soldier’s covers reached Vicksburg. Most EKU’s for the general issues probably were recorded from covers postmarked in the eastern Confederate States near where the stamps were first issued, and early Mississippi usages undoubtedly were later. It is unlikely that regular mail left Vicksburg for destinations outside encircling Union lines after the naval and land based siege began on May 18, 1863. However, the latest date on which covers could have been mailed from Vicksburg with legal Confederate postage would have been on July 3, 1862 – the day before the surrender.
Twenty-eight of the 50 covers that can be dated after July 25, 1862, are franked with the 5¢ Blue Lithograph (usage known from a pair on folded letter dated in August 1862), 10¢ Blue Lithograph, Paterson printing (EKU – July 25, 1862), the 5¢ Blue Typograph, Richmond printing (EKU – August 15, 1862); and the 10¢ Blue Lithograph, “Stone Y” (August 25, 1862).
Twenty-two of the 50 covers that can be dated after July 25, 1862, are soldier’s covers with the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmark and postage indicated by the (Due) 10 (bold) or DUE/10 (in arc). Eight of these covers clearly show the month and day dates in the double-circle postmark to be JUL/25. According to historical records, the military units indicated in the endorsements on these soldier’s covers were not present in the Vicksburg area prior to December 1862. This precludes the possibility that the double-circle postmark was applied in July 1862.
Privates and an officer in the 36th, 40th, 41st, 52nd, and 57th Georgia and the 61st Tennessee Infantry Regiments endorsed many soldier’s covers. These regiments were a part of Major-General Carter L. Stevenson’s Division, which was ordered from Middle Tennessee to Vicksburg in mid-December 1862. The 40th and 52nd Georgia and the 61st Tennessee participated in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou December 26, 1862 — January 2, 1863. These regiments along with the 36th, 41st, and 57th Georgia Infantry were reported in the Vicksburg area by January 10, 1863. In early May 1863, Stevenson’s Division was in the defensive line south of Vicksburg along the road from Warrenton to Hall’s Ferry on the Big Black River. The 36th, 40th, 41st, 52nd, and 57th Georgia fought in the Battle of Champion Hill May 16, 1863. The 61st Tennessee fought in the Battle of Big Black River Bridge May 17, 1863. Stevenson’s Division was at Vicksburg during the siege of Vicksburg May 18 — July 4, 1863.
Privates and officers in the 3rd Louisiana, the 35th, 36th, 38th and 46th Mississippi, and the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiments also endorsed soldier’s covers. The 3rd Louisiana and 35th, 36th and 38th Mississippi Infantry Regiments were stationed in northern Mississippi before being ordered to Vicksburg in late December 1862. The 3rd Louisiana Infantry Regiment was in Brig. Gen. Louis Hébert’s Brigade, which reached Snyder’s Bluff on January 1, 1863. The regiment departed Hayne’s Bluff and ascended Deer Creek on March 24 during the Union’s Steele’s Bayou Expedition March 14-27, 1863. The 3rd Louisiana also was among forces assembled to oppose the Greenville Expedition April 2-25, 1863. The regiment was again at Hayne’s and Snyder’s Bluffs during the Union demonstrations against those places April 29 — May 1, 1863. The 3rd Louisiana left Snyder’s Bluff on May 17 and reached Vicksburg on May 18.
The 35th Mississippi was in Brigadier General John D. Moore’s Brigade, which commenced to arrive at Vicksburg on December 30, 1863, during the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. The regiment was among opposing forces during the Union’s Yazoo Pass Expedition February 3 — April 10, 1863. During the Battles of Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge, Moore’s Brigade guarded the Mississippi River front at Warrenton and the approaches from the lower ferries on the Big Black River. After these battles, the brigade withdrew to Vicksburg. The 36th and 38th Mississippi Infantry Regiments were in Brig. Gen. Louis Hébert’s Brigade, which reached Snyder’s Bluff on January 1, 1863. During the Battle of Champion Hill and until the withdrawal of Pemberton’s army across Big Black River, Hébert’s Brigade was stationed along Walnut Hills from Hayne’s Bluff to the Mississippi River. On the night of May 17-18, 1863, the brigade marched from Snyder’s Bluff to Vicksburg.
The 46th Mississippi Infantry Regiment (organized from the 6th Infantry Battalion) was designated the 46th by an order received on December 2, 1862. The regiment fought in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou. On March 25, 1863, the 46th Mississippi started to the lower Deer Creek region in Issaquena County, and after spending some time at Haynes’ landing on the Yazoo River, the regiment returned to Vicksburg on April 16. From April 29 to May 4, the 46th Mississippi, which was in Brig. Gen. William E. Baldwin’s Brigade, marched from Vicksburg to Port Gibson and back and fought in the Battle of Port Gibson May 1, 1863. After returning to Vicksburg, the regiment was posted at or near Hall’s ferry, until May 15, when it moved to Mount Alban. On May 16, the 46th Mississippi advanced to Bovina and the next day to the Big Black River bridge to cover the crossing of Confederate troops. Baldwin’s Brigade brought up the rear as Pemberton’s army withdrew to Vicksburg.
The 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment was ordered to the Vicksburg in late December 1862. The regiment reached Vicksburg during the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou and was assigned to the defensive garrison at Vicksburg. The 40th Alabama was among forces opposing the Union’s Steele’s Bayou Expedition and those assembled to oppose the Greenville Expedition. The regiment was at Vicksburg during the siege.
The arrival of General Grant’s Union army on the landward side to the east of Vicksburg on May 18, 1863, along with the Federal fleet patrolling the Mississippi River to the west resulted in the Siege of Vicksburg. This siege lasted until the surrender of the Confederate army by General Pemberton on July 4, 1863. For these 47 days, the city was essentially cut off from the outside world and was under frequent bombardment by gunboats and mortar boats. Therefore, it is doubted that the Vicksburg post office was in operation during this period.
Confederate military personnel were entrusted to carry relatively infrequent exchanges of military dispatches through the Union lines between General Pemberton at Vicksburg and General Johnston at Jackson. These exchanges consisted primarily of official mail. However, some private mail may have been carried. After the surrender, General Pemberton wrote a special memorandum for the record to honor the officers and soldiers who had risked capture or death by carrying these important military dispatches.
Mail runners, who also faced capture or death, carried private mail into and out of Vicksburg for the Confederate troops. On the night of May 25, 1863, Confederate mail runner Absalom Grimes and his partner Robert Loudon brought into Vicksburg about 2,000 private letters largely from the families of Missouri and Kentucky troops. These mail runners passed down the Yazoo River from Hayne’s Bluff through the Federal fleet on the Mississippi River to Vicksburg in a skiff with the mail in four water proofed tin boxes. On leaving Vicksburg about May 30, these mail runners carried out an equivalent volume of letters for delivery back to the families of the Confederate troops. In mid-June, Bob Loudon made another mail run into and out of Vicksburg.
On June 25, 1863, Union pickets captured a Confederate mail carrier attempting to make his way through the Yazoo River bottoms above Vicksburg. This mail contained many private letters that included one from General M. L. Smith to his wife and one from Colonel W. T. Withers, who was chief of the artillery at Vicksburg.
On July 4, 1863 – the day of surrender – A. H. Markland, Special Agent of the U. S. Post Office Department entered the city with the occupation forces, took charge of the Vicksburg post office, and opened it as a Union facility. Markland sent a telegram notifying the Inspection Office in Washington, D.C., of his actions and followed up with a letter dated July 6. The Inspection Office instructed Special Agent Markland to remain in charge until the return of Mr. Benjamin Johnston, who had been designated as the special agent for the Vicksburg post office. Mr. Johnson died before he could assume the position.
During the early period of occupation, special agents of the U. S. Post-Office Department operated the post office mostly for the benefit of Union army and navy personnel. On August 10, 1863, General Grant issued an order establishing regulations for handling mail at all military posts south of Memphis, Tennessee:
SPECIAL ORDERS,} HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE,
No 217. } Vicksburg, Miss., August 10, 1863.
I. The establishing of mails, within the insurrectionary States of this department being for the exclusive benefit of the military authorities and those connected therewith, the following regulations are established and will be observed, until otherwise ordered, by all persons employed in their transmission, at all military posts south of Memphis, Tenn.:
- Postmasters will transmit no letters but those coming from designated military authorities, nor deliver any received at their respective offices to citizens or civilians, excepting through the same channels.
- Mails will be made up at department, corps, division, and post headquarters, and by all provost-marshals, quartermasters, and commissaries, sent regularly to the post offices by them, and promptly forwarded by the postmaster of each post.
- The military authorities above designated will forward no letters from any citizen in any insurrectionary State in this department, without first examining the same and marking their approval thereon.
By order of Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant:
T. S. BOWERS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.Official Records, Vol. 34, Part 3, p. 585-6.
A small (26 mm) VICKSBURG/MISS. double-circle postmark with month, day, and year dates was obtained for Vicksburg post office relatively within less than a month after the beginning of Union occupation. This postmark was similar to the VICKSBURG/MISS double-circle postmarks used during the “U.S. Postage Used After Secession” and the Confederate periods. Overlaying tracings and acetate copies of these postmarks show differences in the spacing of letters and a period (.) as added after the “MISS” in the Union occupation postmark.
The earliest recorded use of this VICKSBURG/MISS. double-circle postmark is AUG/1/1863. From early August to mid-September 1863, this postmark had month, day, and year dates. However, from late September to late December 1863, it had only month and day dates. Perhaps, the year-date logo had been damaged or lost. One recorded cover postmarked in late November has the NOV month date inverted. A year date was present again in the postmark by mid-January 1864. This VICKSBURG/MISS. double-circle postmark was recorded used as late as December 10, 1864.
Another small (23 mm) VICKSBURGH/MISS. single-circle postmark was placed into use at Vicksburg post office in late 1864 or early 1865. The earliest recorded use of this postmark is MAR/25 (1865) on a cover with an enclosed soldier’s letter dated February 28, 1865. The latest known use of this postmark is April 30, 1867.
Due 3 and DUE 6 handstamps were used during Union occupation for processing soldier’s mail. The Due 3 was used to indicate 3-cents postage due for soldier’s letters that were properly endorsed with the soldier’s name and unit. The DUE 6 was used to indicate 6 cents postage due for soldier’s letters that lacked the proper endorsement. These due markings also were used on soldier’s or civilian mail to indicate underpayment of postage for overweight letters.
For regular mail, the U.S. 1¢ Blue and 3¢ Rose stamps used on covers postmarked at Vicksburg. During the first two years of Union occupation, a 7-bar-grid killer frequently was used to cancel stamps. After the introduction of the single-circle VICKSBURGH/MISS. postmark, a “crossroads” killer was used from at least late March to early June 1865.
The first U. S. Postmaster at Vicksburg after surrender was Thomas A. Marshall, who was appointed March 8, 1864. Appointment of this postmaster probably opened up the mails to civilians at Vicksburg to mail service in the United States. After Lieut. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the Confederate troops in the Alabama and the Mississippi Departments to Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby at Citronelle, Alabama, on May 4, 1865, the next U.S. Postmaster was Richards Barnett, who was appointed June 16, 1865.
During Union occupation, mail from civilians living in occupied Vicksburg to family and friends within the Confederate States depended on an arrangement for civilian “Flag-of-Truce” or other through-the-lines mail.
Three covers with enclosed letters from the Mrs. Selina M. Crump correspondence provide examples of mail that was carried by civilians through the lines between Vicksburg and Brandon in 1864 – months after Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863. Mrs. Crump was the widow of Robert H. Crump, who served as Mayor of Vicksburg early in the Confederate period. He died at Vicksburg on August 14, 1861. Sometime after her husband’s death and probably during the first river siege of Vicksburg May 18–July 27, 1862, Mrs. Crump moved her family to Brandon for safety from the bombardment. Letters dated March 26 and May 12, 1864, were personal communications from Mrs. Sophia Moore, who was a school teacher, next-door neighbor, and good friend of Mrs. Crump when she was living at Vicksburg. A letter dated July 23, 1864, was from Mollie, a daughter of Mrs. Crump, who was at Brandon while Mrs. Crump was away at Vicksburg.
The first cover is addressed to Mrs. Selina Crump at Brandon. Sophia Moore dated the letter at Vicksburg on March 26, 1864. Manuscript notations on the front of the cover show that the letter was examined and approved by military authorities at Vicksburg on March 26th. Docketing also shows that Mrs. Crump received the letter on April 4th. Mrs. Moore apparently had accepted some responsibility in regards to looking after Mrs. Crump’s house in Vicksburg. In addition to news about family and friends, Sophia tells that undesirables, who were made to leave, had occupied Mrs. Crump’s house. Sophia took no part in the removal because she “feared their ill will.” “McPherson’s Scouts” and some other persons were then occupying the house. Sophia says that she was having problems collecting the rent. Nevertheless, she had bought Mrs. Crump some personal items with the rent she had collected. Sophia tells that: “The Negroes were burning your fence, every night a portion would go.” Therefore, she decided to sell it rather than to receive nothing. Sophia also tells that at the cemetery some persons had broken into the tombs and left them open, and the brick wall around the enclosure next to Mrs. Crump’s lot had been taken away.
The second cover is addressed to Mrs. Selina Crump at Brandon. Sophia dated the letter at Vicksburg on May 12, 1864. Miss Roach agreed to take this letter. Manuscript notations on the back of the cover show that the letter was examined and approved by military authorities at Vicksburg on May 18th. A manuscript notation on the cover front shows that it was sent in care of Messrs. Tappan & Manlove. (The July 23rd letter indicates that Tappan, a former merchant at Vicksburg, had a store at Brandon). The letter entered the postal system at Jackson on June 1, 1864, and postage was paid with a Confederate 10¢ Blue Engraved, Type, I stamp. The cover was docketed as received on May 29th. Mrs.Crump must have made an error in her docketing if the manuscript June1st date applied at the Jackson post office was correct. In addition to news about family and friends, Sophia apologizes for not sending the articles that Mrs.Crump had been asking for. Sophia says that she was afraid of breaking the laws against sending things out of Vicksburg inasmuch as the authorities were very strict since Miss Emma Kline had been incarcerated.
The third cover is addressed to Mrs. Crump at Vicksburg. Mollie Crump dated the letter at Brandon on July 23, 1864. Mollie was a daughter of Mrs. Crump who, along with another daughter Jennie, had remained at Brandon while Mrs.Crump was away at Vicksburg. This letter was handcarried to Vicksburg by “Capt.” C. A. Manlove, a former resident and commission merchant at Vicksburg and probably an associate of “Gen.” Tappan in his store at Brandon. Miss May and Charley Burwell accompanied “Capt.” Manlove to Vicksburg. No notations are on the cover to indicate that military authorities examined this incoming mail at Vicksburg.
Bearss, Edwin C., Decision in Mississippi. Jackson MS: Mississippi Commission on the Between the States, 1962.
Bearss, Edwin C., Rebel Victory at Vicksburg. Published by Vicksburg Centennial Commemoration Commission. Little Rock AR: Pioneer Press, 1963.
Bearss, Edwin C., The Campaign for Vicksburg: Vicksburg is the Key (Volume I). Dayton OH: Morningside House, Inc., 1985.
Bearss, Edwin C., The Campaign for Vicksburg: Grant Strikes a Fatal Blow (Volume II). Dayton OH: Morningside House, Inc., 1986.
Bearss, Edwin C., The Campaign for Vicksburg: Unvexed to the Sea (Volume III). Dayton OH: Morningside House, Inc., 1986.
Bergeon, Arthur W., Jr., Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units, 1861-1865. Baton Rouge LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Dietz, August, Jr., The Postal Service of the Confederate States of America. Richmond, VA: Press of the Dietz Publishing Co., 1929.
Dietz Confederate States Catalog and Handbook. Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, Inc., 1959.
Garrett, D. F. “Selected Cancels, Vicksburg, Mississippi, Gibraltar of the South.” The Dixie Philatelist XIII: 3-9. (Spring 1979).
Milgram, James W., “Western Flag-of-Truce Usages,” The Confederate Philatelist: Vol. 46, No. 3, p. 89-95. (May-June 2001).
Oakley, B. C., Jr. A Postal History of Mississippi, Stampless Period, 1799-1860. Baldwyn MS: Magnolia Publishers. 1969.
Oakley, B. C., Jr. A Postal History of Mississippi, Stampless Period, 1799-1860, Volume II. Bruce, MS. 1980.
Parks, William S., “The Anomalous Date in Vicksburg’s Confederate Postmark,” The Confederate Philatelist: Vol. 46, No. 6, p. 193-202. (Nov.-Dec. 2001).
Parks, William S., “Civil War Postmarks Used at Vicksburg,” The Confederate Philatelist: Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 43-54. (March-April 2002).
Parks, William S. and Donald F. Garrett, “(PAID) 10 and (Due) 10 Used at Vicksburg, Mississippi,” The Confederate Philatelist: Vol. 47, No. 1, p. 7-10. (Jan.-Feb. 2002).
Parks, William S. and Jerry S. Palazolo, “Through-the-Lines Letters Between Vicksburg and Brandon, Mississippi,” The Confederate Philatelist: Vol. 47, No. 5, p. 157-161. (Sept.-Oct. 2002).
Parrish, Tom Z., The Saga of the Confederate Ram Arkansas, The Mississippi Valley Campaign, 1862. Hillsboro TX: Hill College Press. 1987.
Quaife, M. M. (ed.), Absalom Grimes, Confederate Mail Runner. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1926.
Rowland, Dunbar, Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898. Nashville TN, 1908. Reprinted by The Reprint Company, Spartanburg SC, 1978.
Skinner, Hubert C., Erin R. Gunter, and Warren H. Sanders, The New Dietz Confederate States Catalog and Handbook. Miami FL: Bogg & Lawrence Publishing Company 1986.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 130 vols. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-1902.
Walker, Peter F., Vicksburg – A People at War. Chapel Hill NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1960.
Confederate postal history is a specialized field of philately. The Confederate Stamp Alliance is group of philatelists organized for the purpose of pursuing this interest through cooperation, research, publication, exhibition, and meetings. An excellent overview of Confederate postal history, illustrated with stamps and covers from other localities, can be viewed at Patricia A. Kaufmann’s Web site. Additional information on Confederate stamps, covers, and fakes can be obtained at John L. Kimbrough’s Web site. Books and other reference material concerning Confederate postal history are available from Philatelic Bibliopole. Civil War historical data for the Vicksburg Campaign is available at the Vicksburg National Military Park site. This data includes battles fought, Confederate and Union units involved, Confederate soldiers paroled, and Confederate and Union soldiers buried in the Cedar Hill and National Cemeteries at Vicksburg.
Especially thanks are due Donald F. Garrett, Dr. Karl Agre, Earl Kaplan, Roger H. Oswald, Lawrence F.C. Baum, and Joe Overstreet, members of The Confederate Stamp Alliance, and Jeff T. Giambrone, historian at the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, for use or color copies of their covers. Clipart of the Confederate flags and Mississippi flag is used courtesy of the Savage/Goodner Camp 1513 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The base map for the location of the Vicksburg area, local mail routes, and route of General Grant’s army and battles fought is from J. H. Colton’s Map of Mississippi and Louisiana (1865).
I apologize to my fellow Southerners who would argue that the usage of the name “War Between the States” is more accurate than “Civil War.” I agree! However, “Civil War” is more commonly used in published works and undoubtedly would be the search term of choice on the internet. To avoid confusion, I also have used the “Yankee” names in reference to the battles fought because those names also are more commonly used in published works and on the internet.