Own Scarce Civil War Prisoner's Letter Cover From Gettysburg – Only 1 Available!
Now you can get a piece of US Civil War history that has survived over 150 years to make it into your collection. This cover carried a letter from a prisoner of war in a hospital near Gettysburg to Richmond, Virginia. You'll also receive a copy of the correspondence that was once inside the envelope. It was mailed from a "General Hospital near Gettysburg, September 11, 1863," and reads:
I have been expecting to hear from you the last week but have been disappointed. Do write as often as you can, you cannot imagine how much pleasure your letters give me. My health continues to improve slowly. Our treatment here is excellent. The fare for a sick man is very good, but if I could only get some good Hominy & Rice I think I could fatten on it. Give my love to Hammie, Sarah and the Leiffs, & all friends. Remember me in your prayer dear Mother. I feel as if that will do more good than all the medicine in the world.
Your Affect. Son,
This letter is a window into one Confederate soldier's life inside a Civil War-era hospital. It seems Lieutenant Sanford Brach was luckier than most men who ended up in hospitals during the war. Conditions were often unsanitary and diseases like gangrene and smallpox ran rampant. Lieutenant Branch's mother must have been comforted greatly by her son's letters, knowing he had survived the battlefield and his health was improving.
The cover that sent Lieutenant Branch's letter features a bold cancel from November 4, 1863, a matching "Due 2" handstamp, and the words "prisoner of war" at the top right. You'll also receive a copy of the correspondence that was once inside the envelope. This cover was processed through Richmond because of the "2¢ Due" and the fact that it was mailed without a stamp.
As can be expected with a cover this old that's gone through the mail, it does show some overall wear, but is still considered a fine example. We've encapsulated the cover in museum-quality mylar to protect it from the ravages of time, so you can handle it without fear of damage.
Civil War prisoner of war covers are scarce and dramatic pieces of history. Take advantage of this opportunity and add this cover to your collection today.
Union Wins The Battle Of Gettysburg
On July 3, 1863, Union forces turned the tide of the Civil War with their victory at the Battle of Gettysburg.
During the summer of 1863, General Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia across the border of the Confederacy into Pennsylvania. He hoped to relieve the war-torn citizens of Virginia and knew his men could get food and supplies from the fertile farmlands of the North. Lee’s main objectives were to destroy the Union Army, reduce some of the pressure on Vicksburg caused by the Northern siege, and approach Harrisburg or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The general hoped victories on Union soil would convince Northern politicians to end the war with the Confederacy.
On June 30, Confederate forces under Lieutenant General A.P. Hill spotted federal troops in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Hill decided to send a large scouting party the following morning to get more information on the size of the enemy army.
The Union’s Army of the Potomac had a change in leadership just three days before the battle began. Major General George Meade took charge after Major General Joseph Hooker resigned. Most of Meade’s army was assembling to the south of Gettysburg along a section of hills and ridges that made strong defensive positions.
Hill’s troops met the Union’s advance forces west of the town where the Northern cavalry was guarding ridges and buying time for the rest of the army to arrive. Confederate troops attacked from the north and northwest. Though the Union held for a while, they were forced to retreat through the streets of Gettysburg.
Later that evening and into the next morning, reinforcements arrived for both armies. The Union took advantage of the landscape and formed a defensive line in the shape of a fishhook along the hills and ridges. Confederate forces aligned themselves parallel to their opponents in a line that stretched nearly five miles to the west and northeast. Both sides were now prepared for the intense warfare to come.
Union Major General Daniel Sickles was assigned a position on the south of Cemetery Ridge. He felt higher ground, about a half mile away, would be a better spot for his artillery. Sickles decision proved costly because his line had no protection on the flanks.
Lee ordered Lieutenant General James Longstreet to attack early in the morning on July 2. After multiple delays, his First Corps began their maneuvers after 4:00 p.m. In spite of the postponements, they overwhelmed Sickles’ forces at the Peach Orchard. Pennsylvania reserves reinforced the Union line and stopped the advance. Sickles’ Third Corps was destroyed in the attack.
To the north, Confederate units began their assault of Culp’s Hill at about 7:00 p.m. Many of the Union troops had been sent south to help fight against Longstreet, but strong defenses had been built. The remaining forces were able to hold off the Confederate advance, but the Southern Army took control of a small portion of land at the base of the hill.
Fighting resumed in the morning of July 3. Union troops at Culp’s Hill bombarded the Confederates to regain their lost land. By 11:00 a.m., fighting ceased on the hill when the South abandoned the base.
General Lee decided it was time to attack the Union’s center. At 1:00 p.m., Confederate artillery began bombarding the Union position on Cemetery Ridge. In order to save ammunition, the Northern forces did not return fire for the first fifteen minutes, and then joined in the barrage. Around 3:00, the shelling stopped. Out from the smoke appeared 12,500 Confederate soldiers. As they crossed open fields for three-quarters of a mile, they were fired upon by Northern troops and artillery. A small break in the Union line allowed the Southerners to reach a point later known as the “High-water mark of the Confederacy” (the closest the Confederacy ever came to victory over the North), but they were driven back. Almost half of the attacking force did not return to their lines.
That night and the next morning, Lee strengthened his defensive position along Seminary Ridge and waited for Meade to attack. By nightfall on July 4, it became apparent the cautious Northern commander was not going to launch an assault, and the Army of Northern Virginia began their retreat to the South.
The Battle of Gettysburg produced the greatest number of casualties in the Civil War. In all, between 46,000 and 51,000 men were killed, wounded, captured or missing by the time it ended.
The Northern victory raised the morale of the Army and the public. President Lincoln wrote, “Now, if General Meade can complete his work so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee’s army, the rebellion will be over.” Meade did not aggressively pursue the enemy, and they crossed safely over the border into Virginia. The war dragged on for almost two more years.
The Battle at Gettysburg ended just one day before the fall of Vicksburg. These two events have been called the turning points in the Civil War. The Confederacy lost all hope of European recognition and Lee’s army never again went on an offensive campaign.
Click here for a neat video and animated map of the Battle of Gettysburg.