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VERY FINE. EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF MAIL SMUGGLED FROM UNION-OCCUPIED NEW ORLEANS.
After New Orleans surrendered to Federal forces in April 1862 and with
Maj. Gen. Butler's ever-tightening grip on the city, various routes and means were used to carry mail from New Orleans residents to correspondents in the Confederacy, although such communication was a criminal act. In May 1863, Gen. Nathaniel P.
Banks, Butler's successor, ordered the deportation of all registered enemies of the United States residing in New Orleans (primarily those who refused to take the oath of allegiance). More than 700 families were forced to leave under miserable
conditions. On May 31, 1863, the Louisiana Relief Committee was organized to provide food, shelter and medicine to the mass of refugees. Another of its functions was to maintain a covert mail route between New Orleans and Mobile. The cover offered
here was probably carried out of New Orleans in mid-June 1863, during the mass deportation, but before the Louisiana Relief Committee route was formally established.
Ex Dr. Skinner (Image)
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A FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF MAIL SMUGGLED OUT OF NEW ORLEANS JUST ONE MONTH AFTER UNION FORCES CAPTURED THE CITY. ESPECIALLY DESIRABLE WITH THE MIXED-ISSUE FRANKING.
Examples of mail carried clandestinely
to and from New Orleans after the occupation by Union forces in April 1862 are extremely rare. This cover pre-dates the formation of the Louisiana Relief Committee one year later. (Image)
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE LOUISIANA RELIEF COMMITTEE COVER FROM A CONFEDERATE PRISONER HELD AT RAMPART STREET PRISON IN OCCUPIED
NEW ORLEANS TO PRATTVILLE, ALABAMA, VIA MOBILE. FROM THE PRATT PRISONER-OF-WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
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.
Lieut. Merrill E. Pratt was captured at Port Hudson on July 7, 1863, and sent to Rampart
Street prison before being transferred to Johnson's Island. This was mailed by him from prison in August-September 1863.
Illustrated in Shenfield (p. 97), where described as having a "J.C.D. P.M." Jules C. Denis Provost Marshal censor marking on
back, but it is not there. Ex Antrim and Judd. (Image)
FINE APPEARANCE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF MAIL THAT CIRCUMVENTED THE UNION BLOCKADE AND WAS CARRIED BY THE
SOUTH-WESTERN EXPRESS COMPANY OVER THE TRANS-RIO GRANDE ROUTE. THIS REMARKABLE COVER TRAVELED FROM ENGLAND TO CONFEDERATE NORTH CAROLINA VIA ST. THOMAS, HAVANA AND TAMPICO.
The formation of the South-Western Express Company occurred shortly
before it was announced in the November 24, 1860, edition of the Houston Tri-Weeky Telegraph. This notice describes the firm as the successor to Jones' Express. With its main offices in New Orleans and Galveston, the South-Western Express
Company provided freight, package and mail express service between Texas and Louisiana, with advertised connections to other places through Adams Express Company and the Southern Express Company. Various names are listed in the ads, including J. J.
McKeever, the New Orleans-based agent for Adams Express and the Southern Express Company.
On November 11, 1861, the South-Western Express Company announced, "In consequence of the blockade, and the discontinuance of mail communication with
foreign countries, [the firm had] taken the necessary measures for extending its lines to Tampico, for the purpose of conveying mail matter destined for all parts of the world. The first Special Messenger will leave New Orleans Tuesday the 26th
inst., at 7 o'clock, A.M." This trans-Rio Grande route was the one already used by Antonio Costa's express. Both companies took advantage of Royal Mail Steam Packet ships to circumvent the Union blockade by bringing mail to and from Mexico. In
evidence of the South-Western Express Company's service is this sole-recorded example of mail that was definitely carried by them, bearing the circular datestamp applied on arrival at New Orleans.
According to the docketing, this folded cover
originated on November 30 from the Liverpool-based firm of MacLean, Maris & Company, shipping and commercial agents for the firm of T. C. and B. G. Worth in Wilmington. The route directive "West India Steamer" indicates that it was sent by
Royal Mail Steam Packet line. The RMSP Seine departed from Southampton on December 2, 1861, and arrived in St. Thomas on December 17. On the same day it was carried on the RMSP Clyde, which arrived in Havana on December 22, Vera Cruz on
December 26 and Tampico on December 29. Based on the route described in the South-Western Express Company notices, this would have been carried from Tampico to New Orleans. The overland trip should have taken about two weeks, arriving in
Illustrated and discussed in Special Routes (pages 166-167) and Shenfield book (p. 61). Ex Shenfield, Meroni, Grant and Dr. Graves
VERY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE "SOUTH-WESTERN EXPRESS COMPANY" IMPRINT. AN OUTSTANDING CONFEDERATE TEXAS COVER.
This cover is addressed to William S. Glass, who came to Texas around 1845 and became a resident of Victoria,
where he remained the rest of his life. Glass, a lawyer, was appointed a receiver for the Confederate government during the Civil War, in charge of the disposal of confiscated property. This cover was probably used by the South-Western Express
Company to forward a letter addressed to Glass at Victoria. We are unable to determine the year of mailing.
Ex Walcott, Antrim and Frank J. Engel (Image)
VERY FINE. A RARE EXAMPLE OF TRANS-RIO GRANDE MAIL CARRIED FROM MEXICO TO CONFEDERATE NEW ORLEANS VIA TEXAS AND ACROSS BERWICK'S
BAY. EXTREMELY UNUSUAL WITH THE MANUSCRIPT ROUTE DIRECTIVE.
This July 1861 cover is an early example of mail carried across the Rio Grande from Matamoros to Brownsville, which entered the C.S.A. postal system and was transported to New Orleans.
The route indicated on the cover, "via Berwick's Bay", was the well-established "Texas and New Orleans Great Southwestern Passenger Route" across the Atchafalaya River via Berwick City and Brashear (later renamed Morgan City). This is the only
trans-Rio Grande cover we have seen with this directive (a later cover from this correspondence has a "via Corpus" directive).
Ex Weatherly (Image)
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