Notes from the Past

Expresses Carried Southern Mails

At the close of the Civil War the postal service of the Southern Confederacy was almost entirely disorganized.  Many of those who had been U. S. postmasters in Southern cities and towns continued in the same capacity under the Confederate States of America, but when the war was lost with the surrender of Lee at Appomattox they abandoned their offices.  Some left in fear of Federal prosecution for disloyalty or because of delinquency in their failure to settle postal accounts due the United states in 1861.

For Southern postmasters the outlook was grim.  The Confederate treasury was bankrupt and there would be no pay in any case, unless they could secure reappointments from the U. S., and there was slim hope of this.  In the emergency the express companies undertook to carry mail and for several years beginning in 1865, we find covers with express labels or markings, the usual fee noted, "2/," (the customary express rating, meaning "2 bits,") or 25¢ per letter.  This was a high letter rate but from town to town it seems to have been just about the only service available.  Covers of this kind are an interesting contribution to Confederate postal history.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
April 11,1953
Posted October 16, 1999

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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