1995 32¢ Raphael Semmes
Issue Date: June 29, 1995
City: Gettysburg, PA
Quantity: 15,000,000 panes of 20
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
The release of the 20 Civil War stamps marked the most extensive effort in the history of the U.S. Postal Service to review and verify the historical accuracy of stamp subjects. Each of the 16 individuals and four battles featured were chosen from a master list of 50 subjects, which included Presidents, generals, major battles, rank-and-file soldiers, women, African and Native Americans, and abolitionists. The goal of the U.S.P.S. was to show the wide variety of people who participated in the Civil War.
A lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Raphael Semmes resigned his commission in February 1861 to run a purchasing mission for the Confederacy – actually buying armaments from manufacturers in New England and New York. In April he was placed in command of a Confederate ship, the CSS Sumter.
During a six-month cruise he seized 18 enemy ships before abandoning the Sumter in Gibraltar. Semmes then made his way to England, where he took command of the screw sloop CSS Alabama. Setting sail in September 1862, he embarked on a commerce -destroying cruise that would last nearly two years. Seizing and destroying nearly 70 ships in the mid-Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea, Semmes made his way to Cherbourg, France. Engaged in battle on June 19, 1864, by the Union screw sloop USS Keararge, the Alabama was sunk off the coast of Cherbourg.
Semmes did not surrender with his ship, but instead managed to return home where he was placed in command of the James River squadron. When Richmond was evacuated in 1865, he burned his ships and, arming his sailors as infantry, surrendered with General Joseph Johnston at Greensboro, North Carolina.