U.S. # 4980
2015 49¢ Battle of Five Forks
Civil War: 1865
By the spring of 1865, Robert E. Lee’s army had been under siege for nearly a year. Ulysses S. Grant’s trenches stretched for 25 miles from Petersburg to Richmond, Virginia. The Union ranks were steadily reinforced and its troops well-fed, while the dwindling Confederate Army was desperate for food, clothing, and ammunition.
On March 25, Lee attacked a portion of the Union trenches, hoping to break the siege. When he failed, Grant mobilized his men and sent General Philip Sheridan after Lee’s army.
The Confederates stopped Sheridan’s advance, but their supply line ran through a small intersection named Five Forks. Aware of the implications if the line was severed, Lee ordered General George Pickett to “hold Five Forks at all hazards.”
On April 1, Sheridan’s troops attacked. Pickett was having lunch with his staff miles away. The 22,000 Union troops crushed Pickett’s force of 10,000. Nearly half the Confederate troops were killed, wounded, or captured, further reducing the size of Lee’s army.
With Five Forks in Yankee hands and his supply line cut, Lee evacuated Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederate general’s only hope was to move his troops west before Grant could capture them.
Designed by art director Phil Jordan, the Battle of Five Forks stamp features the same format as previous issues in the series, including traditional artwork. The Battle of Five Forks stamp pictures an 1885 painting by French artist Paul Dominique Philippoteaux.
Value: 49¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: April 9, 2015
First Day City: Appomattox, VA – the site of the Confederate surrender
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Method: Offset printed in double-sided sheets of 72 with six panes of 12 per sheet
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 11
Quantity Printed: 5,400,000 stamps
The Five Forks stamp, along with the Appomattox stamp, comprised the final set in a five-year series commemorating the Civil War’s major battles. Each year, two significant battles from 150 years prior were honored with sheets similar to this one. Each sheet includes a wartime photo, quotes, and recap of the year’s events.