2013 Civil War Commemorative Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has announced the designs for its 2013 Civil War commemorative stamps. During the 2011-2015 Civil War Sesquicentennial,  the Post Office is issuing two stamps each year commemorating significant events in the war that occurred 150 years ago from the year of the stamp’s issue. In 2011,the stamps commemorated the first shots of the war fired at Fort Sumter, and the first large battle of the war at First Bull Run. In 2012, one stamp commemorated  the passing of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip by the Federal fleet and the subsequent capture of New Orleans while the second honored the Battle of Antietam.

For 2013, the stamps commemorate the Vicksburg Campaign and the Battle of Gettysburg. 

The Vicksburg Campaign was a lengthy one that began in 1862 and ended with the Confederate surrender of that Mississippi city on July 4th, 1863. The Vicksburg stamp features a Currier and Ives lithograph of the April 16th passing of the city’s batteries by Admiral David Porter’s fleet of gunboats and transports. After several failed attempts at capturing this important Mississippi River garrison, General Ulysses S. Grant marched his army south on the western side of the river. Porter’s fleet successfully passed Vicksburg’s defenses and later ferried the ground troops across the river to the Mississippi side, and Grant launched his final, successful land campaign.

This is the third year in a row that a Currier and Ives lithograph was used in one of the stamps. Both the Fort Sumter and the Forts Jackson and St. Phillips  stamps featured Currier and Ives artwork.

The Gettysburg stamp is based on a chromolithograph by the Swedish born artist  Thure de Thulstrup depicting the assault popularly known as Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd, 1863, the final day of the three day battle. The Union Second Corps under General Winfield Scott Hancock  is pictured defending against the charge. Thulstup is another repeat artist in the series; his  lithograph of the Battle of Antietam was used in that 2012 stamp.

As of this writing, the date of release of this year’s stamps has not been announced. I’ll update this post when that information is available.

Update 2/10/2013:  The 2013 Civil War commemorative stamps first day of issue will be May 23rd in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

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2 Responses

  1. John Heimann says:

    Thanks so much for posting the issue date of this year’s Civil War Commemoratives. I called USPS and could learn only that “they’ll be out sometime this summer”. It’s a pleasure to find someone who knows what he or she is doing…

    I was extremely surprised to see Thure de Thulstrup’s depiction of the Union response to Pickett’s charge. From the reading I have done, I assumed the Union troops were dug in on the slopes of Cemetary Ridge, with General Hancock directing the defense from the higher levels of the Ridge. The painting appears to put the Union and Confederate forces on relatively level ground, affording the Union no particular advantage and unnecessarily exposing Hancock to both random and sharpshooter fire.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for the kind words.
      The ground at Gettysburg where Pickett’s Charge occurred gradually slopes downward from Cemetery Ridge, so the Confederates had to advance slightly uphill into the Union positions. But it’s not steep and the ground is nearly level the closer one gets to the stone wall and copse of trees that were the focal point of the advance. The Confederates did have to advance about a mile across open ground and were exposed to Union artillery and musket fire for a long time before reaching Cemetery Ridge, and were badly cut up before they got there. Hancock was indeed exposed to enemy fire while he rode his horse and was wounded during the charge.

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