The U.S. Postal Service has released the designs for the 2014 Civil War commemorative stamps, the fourth issues in this popular series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This year, the stamps commemorate the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and The Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
The Petersburg stamp art is from an 1892 painting by artist J. Andre Castaigne and depicts an assault by the 22nd United States Colored Troops (USCT) at Petersburg. By the summer of 1864, a large number of African American regiments were in the field, and were seeing more fighting than earlier in the war when they were largely used in guard duties or performing manual labor. The 4th Division of the 9th Corps had two brigades of black troops, and saw extensive fighting at the Battle of the Crater on July 30th, 1864. The 22nd USCT was part of the 18th Corps and also saw a lot of action around Petersburg and Richmond in the last year of the war.
The Battle of Mobile Bay stamp commemorates the August 5th, 1864 naval victory by Admiral David Farragut at Mobile Bay. While the city of Mobile was not captured in this battle (and would not be taken until April of 1865), the victory gave control of the bay to the north and removed Mobile as a port for blockade runners. See my post here for more on the Battle of Mobile Bay.
The artwork on the Mobile Bay stamp is from an 1886 print published by the Louis Prang Company. Prang produced several nice chromolithographs of the Civil War that were realistic depictions of battle, and less stylized than two other popular lithograph companies of the time, Kurz and Allison, and Currier & Ives.
The first day of issue for these stamps in July 30th, 2014 in Petersburg, Virginia and Mobile, Alabama.
Brigadier General John W. Fuller was born in England in 1827 and moved with his family to upstate New York in 1833. He owned a publishing business in Utica, New York, and also served as that city’s treasurer and as an officer in the local militia. Fuller moved to Toledo, Ohio in 1858 to set up a publishing business there, and after the Civil War started, he was commissioned as the colonel of the 27th Ohio Infantry in August of 1861. Within a year, he had moved up to brigade command.
A very capable field commander, Fuller was promoted to Brigadier General in 1864. He served as a brigade commander during most of the war, but was in temporary command of the 4th Division of the 16th Corps in the Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Atlanta on July 22nd, 1864. On that day, General John Bell Hood attacked the Army of the Tennessee, which was on the left of the Union forces outside Atlanta to the east of the city. Anticipating that the Confederates would strike the Army of the Tennessee’s left in this attack, Major General James B. McPherson ordered the 16th Corps to reinforce the position. It was a good move, as two of Hood’s divisions did indeed attack at that location, with Major General William H. T. Walker’s Division opposing Fuller.
One of Fuller’s brigades had been deployed a few miles away at Decatur, Georgia. This brigade, under the command of Colonel John W. Sprague, successfully defended the Union supply trains against a much larger Confederate force. For his actions at Decatur, Sprague would be promoted to Brigadier General; years after the war ended he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Continue reading “General John W. Fuller’s Report on His Division’s Action at the Battle of Atlanta” »
In July of 1864, most of the 8th Illinois Cavalry was stationed in the Washington D.C. area and was involved in guard duty and patrols against Colonel John F. Mosby’s guerillas. This regiment of veteran cavalrymen had been involved in most of the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac since the spring of 1862, seeing action in several major battles and countless minor skirmishes. On July 4th, five companies of the 8th Illinois Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel David L. Clendenin were sent out from Washington with orders to find out who had cut the telegraph lines between the city and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as well as the number and location of the enemy, presumed to be Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Corps. Early had been sent to the Shenandoah Valley to drive out Major General David Hunter’s Army of the Shenandoah. Early defeated Hunter at the Battle of Lynchburg on June 17th to 18th, and Hunter retreated into West Virginia. Early then marched north into Maryland on a mission to threaten Washington and force the Federal command to send reinforcements north and relieve some of the pressure on the Confederates under siege at Petersburg, Virginia.
After skirmishing with Mosby’s Rangers on the 5th and 6th, the Illinois horsemen entered Frederick, Maryland on the evening of the 6th. At Frederick, Clendenin met with Major General Lew Wallace, who was organizing a defense against Early, who was approaching from the west. Wallace had his hands full trying to put together a fighting force from the few troops available to him, many of whom were inexperienced in battle and had short term enlistments. Reinforcements from the 6th Corps were on their way from Petersburg, but it was not certain when they’d arrive, and Wallace needed all the help he could get in the meantime. Wallace asked Clendenin to scout Early’s Confederates instead of proceeding to Harpers Ferry, and Clendenin agreed. Continue reading “The 8th Illinois Cavalry at the Battle of Monocacy” »