#1178-82 – 1961-65 Civil War Centennial Series, 5v

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Grading Guide

In 1961, the U.S.P.S. began a series commemorating the Civil War centenary. One stamp was issued each year from 1961 to 1965 to coincide with the beginning and end of the five-year war. Each stamp recalled a milestone from a different year of the war.
U.S. #1178
4¢ Firing on Fort Sumter

Issue Date: April 12, 1961
City: Charleston, SC
Quantity: 101,125,000
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method:
Rotary press
11 x 1.5
Color: Light green
Fort Sumter was the site for the first fighting of the Civil War. The fort is located on Sullivan’s Island at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Construction of the fort began in 1829, and was still in progress in 1861, when the Civil War began. The fort was named after Thomas Sumter, a hero of the American Revolution. On April 28, 1948, the fort was made a national monument.
When South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860, plans were made quickly to seize the U.S. forts in the Harbor at Charleston, S.C. – Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. The forts were under the command of Major Robert Anderson. Anderson had established his command at Fort Moultrie, but moved to Fort Sumter for its superior defenses.
Fort Sumter was of little strategic importance to the U.S. It was incomplete, and all 60 of its guns faced the sea. However, it became a symbol of national unity. To President Lincoln, giving up the fort meant accepting secession. After demands for surrender, Confederate forces began a fierce bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Two days later, Union forces evacuated the fort. The Confederates allowed Anderson and his men to leave with their flag and weapons. Union forces regained control of Fort Sumter in February 1865.
U.S. #1179
4¢ Shiloh
Issue Date: April 7, 1962
City: Shiloh, TN
Quantity: 124,865,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
11 x 10 1/2
Color: Black on peach blossom
U.S. #1179 commemorates the Battle of Shiloh. The stamp shows a Civil War rifleman ducking behind a tree stump. The stamp was printed on peach blossom colored paper to honor the fact that an important part of the battle was fought in a peach orchard.
The Battle of Shiloh was fought in Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, a village 20 miles north of Corinth. Union General Ulysses S. Grant stopped there while moving his troops down the Tennessee River. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston decided on a surprise attack on Grant’s 42,000 troops with his 40,000 men.
The battle, named after a church on the battlefield, was fought on April 6 and 7, 1862. On the first day, Johnston’s surprise attack nearly smashed through Grant’s defenses. Johnston was killed in the fighting. The next day, Grant was reinforced with troops, and the general drove the Confederates to Corinth. About 13,000 Union troops and nearly 11,000 Confederate troops died at the battle.
Many Northerners were outraged by the loss of life and called for Grant’s replacement. President Abraham Lincoln refused, stating, “I can’t spare this man – he fights.”
U.S. #1180
4¢ Gettysburg
Issue Date: July 1, 1963
City: Gettysburg, PA
Quantity: 79,905,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Giori Press
Color: Gray and blue
U.S. #1180 honors the Battle of Gettysburg. The stamp image is the result of the first nationwide contest sponsored by the Post Office Department inviting professional artists to design a U.S. postage stamp. Pictured are a Confederate soldier on a gray background and Union soldier on a blue background.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the American Civil War. General George C. Meade commanded a Union army of about 90,000 men against General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army of 75,000. The two forces met by accident in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Both sides suffered terrible casualties, 22,800 men from the North and 22,600 from the South. However, the Confederates lost the battle. The Confederate army was battered and unable to recover from the loss. The South was never again able to launch a major offensive.
U.S. #1181
5¢ Battle of the Wilderness

Issue Date: May 5, 1964
City: Fredericksburg, VA
Quantity: 125,410,000
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method:
Giori Press
Color: Dark red and black
In the spring of 1864, the Union and Confederate armies were in a race toward Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s main objective was to get between Lee’s army and Richmond, thus severing its communications and supplies.
On May 3, 1864, the Union army crossed the Rapidan River and entered a dense forest known as the Wilderness. Knowing that Lee avoided engagements on difficult ground, Grant ordered his men to camp for the night. The next morning they would set off and attempt to get between Lee and Richmond.
The following morning, as the Union army was beginning its march out of the Wilderness, the Confederates attacked. Because of the thick vegetation in the forest, it was difficult to see or maneuver properly, making an effective battle impossible. Cavalry and artillery were useless in such an environment, so much of the fighting was nearly hand to hand. Before long, the flashes from muskets ignited the dry underbrush. Fire claimed the lives of many wounded still lying on the battlefield.
Grant considered the battle a Union victory because he was able to accomplish his objective of getting his troops across the Rapidan River (practically in the face of Lee’s army) and re-forming as a unit on the other side. However, because of the heavy casualties on both sides, history remembers it as a tactical draw.
U.S. #1182
5¢ Appomattox

Issue Date: April 9, 1965
City: Appomattox, VA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method:
Giori press
Quantity: 112,845,000
Color: Prussian blue and black
On April 9, 1865, after a week of almost daily conflicts with Grant’s Union army, Lee’s Confederates approached the small Virginia settlement of Appomattox. After a short battle with a much larger Union force at Appomattox, Lee sent word to Grant that he wished to surrender.
The two generals, each with a small group of officers, met in the parlor of Wilmer McLean to negotiate terms. Grant’s terms were generous. Soldiers were allowed to keep their horses for the next year’s plowing, and officers were allowed to keep their pistols. Grant also ordered that Confederate prisoners be fed with Union rations and that the Union soldiers refrain from celebrating the victory in the presence of the defeated Confederate army.
At long last, America's tragic Civil War had come to an end.