Civil War

Topical Reference Page
A group of Civil War soldiers gathered in front of a mail tent

The National Postal Museum is proud to offer Civil War-related material and stories as seen through the lens of postal history and philately. We hope you enjoy the collection of resources that we have assembled.

July 30, 1993 - August 15, 1998
Exhibition

When the conflict between the north and south finally exploded into war, the nation's communication system was also ripped in two. The system instituted to unify the country through the dissemination of information was instead used to solidify the break.

Although the exhibit is not currently on display in the Museum, selected portions of the exhibit are still available online.

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Object Spotlight

Some of the eligible voters from Highland County, Ohio were not at home for the state election in October 1864. Service with the Union army had brought them to Atlanta, Georgia. However, with a recent provision enacted by the Ohio legislature, they were able to vote absentee. This pre-printed envelope contained a tally sheet of votes from the soldiers of Highland County at the Field Hospital 2nd Division 23rd Army Corps.

32-cent Civil War pane of twenty issued June 29, 1995, front
The Postal Service issued a 20 stamp sheet of 32-cent Civil War stamps on June 29, 1995 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Designed by Mark Hess of Katonah, New York, the stamps are the second installment of the Classic Collection.
"Rose of Washington" cover insert
Exhibition
The conflict between the northern states, known as the Union, and the southern states that...
Object Spotlight
Newton Scott 1864 Civil War letter, page 1
Research Articles
As tensions in the United States rose to a fever pitch and civil war broke out in 1861, Union leaders began to develop ways to isolate the mutinous southern states. In addition to erecting a blockade meant to keep supplies from reaching the South, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair cut off mail service to states that had seceded.
Object Spotlight

The National Postal Museum’s collection of 5.9 million postal and philatelic objects—the second largest in the Smithsonian institution—is much older than the museum. It all began in the 1880s with a single photograph and a pane of Confederate stamps: the Robertson Confederate pane.

a Confederate States of America stamp
The Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia, assumed control over the economic, political, and military life of the South. The Confederacy solved the problem of moving mail by creating its own postal service. The C.S.A.
Civil war cover with a flag and a Washington stamp
A portion of the National Postal Museum's collection of covers of the American Civil War, a bloody clash between two sections of the nation, is available on the museum's collection database.
Eliot A. Landau
Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War
March 6, 2009 - March 8, 2009
Exhibition

Eliot Landau's award-winning philatelic exhibition combined philately, ephemera, and artifacts in an engaging exploration of Lincoln's presidency, the Civil War, and Black History.

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Related Blogs

Object of the Month: The Confederate Lost Plate

One spring morning in 1862, the calm of the northern Abaco islands of the Bahamas was shattered by cannon fire. The American Federal warship...

Writing Home: One Couple’s Letters from the Civil War

“My Love, Once more I am going to try to write to you under difficulties as usual.”

World's First Charity Stamps Raise Money For Soldiers' Relief During Civil War

On June 13, 1861, two months to the day after Federal troops surrender Fort Sumter to Confederate forces, President Abraham Lincoln...

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Additional Resources

Remembering the War Through the Mails

A 2006 Winton M. Blount Symposium on Postal History paper presented at the National Postal Museum by Steven R. Boyd, Ph.D.

A Nation at Civil War: Contrasting Postal Systems

A 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium on Postal History paper presented at the National Postal Museum by Van Koppersmith and Wade E. Saadi.

Official Needs, Post Civil War Nationalism

A 2010 Winton M. Blount Symposium on Postal History paper presented at the National Postal Museum by Steven R. Boyd, Ph.D.