US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Final Civil War set shows Battle of Five Forks, Appomattox

March 18, 2015 12:53 PM

  • Forever stamps commemorating the 1865 Battle of Five Forks and the surrender at Appomattox will conclude the five-year Civil War series from the United States Postal Service.

  • The Civil War 1865 issue comes in a pane of 12 stamps with information about the final year of the war and historic quotes about the conflict.

The final stamp set in the United States Postal Service’s five-year commemoration of the U.S. Civil War will be issued April 9 in Appomattox, Va.

The two forever stamps in the set show scenes from the last days of the war.

One stamp depicts the April 1, 1865, Battle of Five Forks, near Petersburg, Va., as rendered in a circa 1885 painting by French artist Paul Dominique Philippoteaux.

The second stamp reproduces an 1895 painting, Peace in Union, by Thomas Nast. The illustration shows Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

The stamps will be issued with a first-day ceremony at the Appomattox Court House, 113 National Park Drive, in Appomattox.

The National Park Service has the ceremony scheduled at 1 p.m., but the Postal Service told Linn’s the ceremony is planned for 1:30 p.m.

The new stamps will be issued in a pane of 12 that matches the format of the previous four issues in this series.

Two stamps (one of each design) are found on one side of the pane, which also includes four quotes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Joshua L. Chamberlain, plus four lines from a parody by Ben Cotton and Patrick Gilmore of the song When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

This side of the pane also shows a background photograph of a number of Federal rifles stacked in the vicinity of Petersburg during the siege, according to the Postal Service.

Ten stamps are positioned on the opposite side of the pane, along with text describing the last year of the war:

The Battle of Five Forks, often called “the Waterloo of the Confederacy,” was the decisive clash that led to the end of the Civil War.

By March 1865, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was isolated and exhausted after more than nine months in trench lines holding back the forces of Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg. Grant ordered Union General Philip Sheridan to advance his cavalry toward Petersburg’s last remaining supply line, the South Side Railroad, by way of Five Forks, so-called for the five roads that intersected there.

With infantry support from the Fifth Corps under General Gouverneur Warren, Sheridan moved on April 1 to dislodge Confederate General George E. Pickett’s forces from their entrenched position at Five Forks. Sheridan’s cavalry and Warren’s infantry scattered Pickett’s badly outnumbered troops and shattered his line of defense.

Both Richmond and Petersburg fell after the debacle at Five Forks. Grant sent Lee a note pointing out the “hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia.”

On the morning of April 9, as Federal troops blocked his path south and west, Lee attempted to reach the railroad at Appomattox Station to receive supplies sent there from Lynchburg. When Confederate General John B. Gordon sent word that his attack on Union cavalry blocking the stage road had failed, Lee replied, “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”

Grant and Lee met later that day at Appomattox Court House at the home of Wilmer McLean. Grant’s terms for surrender reflected President Abraham Lincoln’s views on avoiding vindictive conditions. He paroled the surrendered Confederates and allowed them to return to their homes, rather than face internment or the threat of trials for treason. At Lee’s request, Grant let the men keep their horses “to put in a crop to carry themselves and their families through the next winter.” Lee believed this would “do much toward conciliating our people.”

Although other Confederate armies remained in the field, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia — the force that had famously rousted the Union’s Army of the Potomac at Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville — signaled an end to the war.

The first two-stamp set in the current Civil War series was issued April 12, 2011, commemorating the attack on Fort Sumter and the first battle of Bull Run (Scott 4522-4523).

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The 2012 issue showed scenes of the Battle of New Orleans and the Battle of Antietam (Scott 4664-4665). The 2013 subjects were the Battle of Vicksburg and the Battle of Gettysburg (4787-4788). In 2014, the stamps depicted the Battle of Petersburg and the Battle of Mobile Bay (4910-4911).

Banknote Corporation of America offset-printed 10.8 million Civil War 1865 stamps for Sennett Security Products.

Banknote Corporation also printed the 2014 set. The first three sets were printed by Ashton Potter.

Press sheets for the Civil War 1865 set, both with and without the die cuts that separate individual stamps, were printed in a quantity of 500 with die cuts and 1,000 without. The sheets consist of six panes of 12 stamps and sell for $35.28 each.

The U.S. Postal Service will offer a pictorial first-day cancel and a digital color postmark for the Civil War 1864 stamps.

Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for these stamps follow:

Nondenominated (49¢) Civil War 1865 forever stamps

FIRST DAY— April 9, 2015; cities— Appomattox, Va., and nationwide.

DESIGN: designer, art director and typographer— Phil Jordan, Falls Church, Va.; modeler— Donald Woo.

PRINTING: process— offset; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black, Pantone Matching System 6 warm gray; PMS 10 warm gray; PMS 193 red; PMS 072 blue; paper— phosphored tagged paper, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 10.8 million stamps; format— double-sided pane of 12, from 72-subject cylinders; size— 2 inches by 1.06 inches (image); 2.1 inches by 1.20 inches (overall); 8.88 inches by 6.75 inches (full pane); plate numbers— none; marginal markings— header “The Civil War 1865 A Nation Touched With Fire,” quotations (two-stamp side); “©2015 USPS,” header “The Civil War 1865 A Nation Touched With Fire,” text, USPS logo, plate position diagram, bar code (10-stamp side); USPS item No.— 589304.

First-day cancel ordering information

Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to The Civil War: 1865, Postmaster, 791 Court St., Appomattox, VA 24522-9998. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by June 8.

The Postal Service’s set of two uncacheted first-day covers is item No. 589316 at $1.86. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.

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