This article is from the April - June 2009 issue of the Confederate Philatelist. Posted under a prior agreement with the then journal editors in effect since the early days of this website.
The State of Missouri was the twelfth star in the Confederate flag. But Missouri officially remained a Union State during the war with a strong presence of Union forces and severely divided loyalties. The Union sentiment in Missouri prevailed, and the state officially remained aligned with the North even though a rival Confederate government was recognized in Richmond and the state admitted to the Confederacy on November 28, 1861. Many Missourians with Southern sympathies and Southern ties sent their sons to fight in the Confederate Army.
It is well known to Confederate postal historians that the Confederate Post Office Department never operated officially in Missouri. Families back home in Missouri kept in touch with their soldiers in the Confederate Army through a system of mail runners who handcarried the mail across the lines to and from the Missouri Confederate soldiers. But that is a story for another time. Postal history covers referencing Missouri Confederate units in the field are very difficult to find and to properly identify. There just are not that many of them. When one is found, it often becomes the centerpiece of a CSA postal history collection military or otherwise. This article is about a newly discovered cover which has never before been in a collection or an exhibit but came directly from the family.
The cover illustrated is a Type I Archer & Daly stamp postmarked in Shreveport, Louisiana and is dated May 9, 1865 with the full year date in the postmark. This is very late in the war. A stamped CSA cover with May 1865 use that can be verified is a rarity in and of itself. Shreveport at the time was a Confederate stronghold and the Military Headquarters of the Confederate Army in the Trans-Mississippi Department. The war would continue in the Trans-Mississippi for weeks after Gen Lee's surrender at Appomattox until the final surrender by CSA Lt-Gen Edmund Kirby Smith on May 26, 1865.
The military address reads "Mr. John W. Gum COD Chism Regiment Forneys Division." Researching the address finds that Private John W. Gum was a member of Company D 2nd Texas Cavalry Partisan Rangers commanded by Colonel Isham Chism. In May 1865, this unit was part of the Texas Infantry Division commanded by Confederate Major General John H. Forney which further confirms the 1865 use. This unit operated mainly in Louisiana and was part of the Red River Campaign in 1864.
At the left of the cover is a soldier's endorsement "Soldiers Letter from T. E. Peyton COD 16 Regiment 2 Brigade Parsons Division MCV." At first glance, the endorsement might prove a bit difficult to decipher. But with a little research, the soldier is identified as Private Thomas E. Peyton of Company D 16th Missouri Infantry Confederate. The "MCV" in the endorsement stands for "Missouri Confederate Volunteers." The 16th Missouri Infantry organized in April 1863 by the consolidation of several smaller Missouri units operated in the Trans-Mississippi mainly in Louisiana and Arkansas and also took part in the Red River Campaign of 1864. The unit was part of the Missouri Division commanded by Missouri Confederate Brigadier General Mosby M. Parsons.
Both units referenced on this cover were included in the May 26, 1865 Trans-Mississippi Department surrender. In short, the cover is from a Missouri Confederate soldier in the field to a Texas soldier in the field. The two somewhere along the line apparently met and became friends. Since both units took part in the Red River Campaign and operated in the same area, it is certainly possible that they could have met and formed a friendship. Unfortunately, there is no letter with the cover which would yield much more information if it had been saved. Covers directly referencing a Missouri Confederate military unit are few and far between and are significant items of Missouri Confederate postal history even though the cover may not have actually crossed the border into Missouri. Any cover from one soldier in the field directly to another soldier in the field is a scarce item no matter what units are involved. But to have one of the units clearly a Missouri Confederate unit is certainly a significant rarity. The lesson to be learned here is not to ignore the addresses on the covers and especially not to ignore the military endorsements. Taking the time to do the research will often yield a surprising result.