The U.S. Postal Service has released the designs for the 2015 Civil War commemorative stamps, the fifth and final issues in the series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This year’s stamps feature artwork commemorating the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865, and the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House nine days later on April 9th.
The Battle of Five Forks marked the end of the nine month Siege of Petersburg, Virginia. General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry, along with infantry from the Union 5th Corps, attacked General George E. Pickett’s Confederate division southwest of Petersburg with the intention of cutting the South Side Railroad, the Confederate army’s last supply line into Petersburg. The battle was named after a five road junction in the midst of the Rebel lines. The Federals were victorious, and with the supply line cut, Petersburg and Richmond had to be abandoned. The Confederates headed west, but could not escape the pursuing Union army. On April 9th, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court house.
The Battle of Five Forks stamp is based on an 1880s painting by Paul Philippoteaux, the same artist who was the lead painter for the Gettysburg Cyclorama. The Appomattox Court House surrender stamp is based on a Thomas Nast 1895 painting called “Peace in Union”. Nast spent many years as an artist and editorial cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly magazine, but may best be remembered as the creator of the modern image of Santa Claus. The original “Peace in Union” painting is a big one, 9 feet by 12 feet, and is housed at the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum in Galena, Illinois, Grant’s hometown.
As of this posting, the USPS had not yet announced the date or location the new stamps will first be issued. I’ll update this post as that information becomes available.
Update March 1, 2015: The 2015 Civil War Commemorative Stamps first day of issue will be April 9, 2015 at Appomattox, Virginia