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A US Civil War Era "State Envelope" From Georgia And A Letter Back Home

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Posted 05/22/2019   12:57 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add HoosRec to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In 2013, I began doing research for an article about this 1864 Civil War cover, but quickly discovered very little information existed. I broadened my focus to include the enclosed soldier's letter and the importance of the blue ink line drawn on the cover's map. The following two paragraphs are from the article I eventually wrote.

"The address on the envelope is in a different handwriting [than the letter] and in blue ink. I'm pointing this out because the line on the envelope's map was drawn in blue ink, and it appears to be in the same blue ink as the address. That line makes this envelope especially interesting because it marks the route that Sherman's forces followed during the Atlanta Campaign in 1864.

"Sherman took three armies to Atlanta, and the line on this map was an attempt to show the route followed by one of those armies, the Army of the Tennessee, during that campaign. The line is not entirely accurate. However, when we consider the small size of the map and its less than accurate depiction of the Georgia county boundaries and county seat locations, the line is actually a good representation of the well-documented route the Army of the Tennessee followed. Clearly, the individual who drew it had map-reading skills that most soldiers lacked. We don't know who that person was, but we do know that some soldiers did cartographic work during the war."

Isaac Larrance designed, patented and produced the "state envelopes." He lived in or near Plainville, Ohio, northeast of Cincinnati. The front of this envelope lists the counties of Tennessee and the back shows a map of Tennessee along with the northern portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Similar envelopes are known for Ohio and Indiana. This cover was used by Will Ramsey to send a letter back home to his family in Morning Sun, Ohio, about 35 miles north of Cincinnati. Will was a member of the 47th Regiment Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry that had been organized in southwest Ohio. The regiment was part of the Army of the Tennessee that participated in Sherman's 1864 Atlanta Campaign. That campaign began in May and led to Confederate forces evacuating the city beginning on September 1. The 47th Regiment had been south of East Point, but moved back north to East Point on September 10. This put them about five miles southwest of fortified Atlanta and signaled the end of the Atlanta Campaign and nearly 400 miles of travel in a four-month period. Will wrote his letter from this location and dated it September 19.

We don't know when or how Will obtained this envelope, but we do know Larrance could not legally sell his envelopes in the Confederate States. We also know Will and other members of the 47th had returned to Ohio from Tennessee for a furlough in the spring of 1864. At the end of the furlough, they gathered at Camp Dennison, about 14 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati and about five miles southwest of Plainville. That proximity may have meant Larrance's envelopes were readily available to soldiers at Camp Dennison and at shops in Cincinnati.

East Point eventually grew into the City of East Point, where the U. S. Army's Fort McPherson was established. I bring this up because Will's letter mentioned the death of his commanding general, Major General James Birdseye McPherson, two months earlier. Before the Atlanta Campaign began, General McPherson had been promoted to replace General Sherman as commander of the Army of the Tennessee. That vacancy arose when Sherman was promoted to replace General Grant, whom Lincoln had promoted to command all Union forces. Fort McPherson was named for Major General McPherson who, like Will, was from Ohio. General McPherson was the highest ranking Union officer killed during the war.

One of the tragic ironies of the Atlanta Campaign was how General McPherson became a casualty of the war northeast of Atlanta. General John Bell Hood was commanding the Confederate forces defending Atlanta and ordered an attack against McPherson's position. General McPherson was killed during that failed attack. General Hood had been General McPherson's roommate at West Point. General McPherson graduated at the top of their class and reportedly spent a considerable amount of time tutoring his roommate.

Coincidentally, I was stationed at Fort McPherson from 1969 to 1971. It was a small base and served as Third Army Headquarters, but was decommissioned as a military base in 2011.

My article, "A Union Soldier's Map and Sherman's Atlanta Campaign," was published as the feature article in the December 2013 issue of American Philatelist. It includes several maps and photos and is accessible to APS members at their website. For non-APS members, the article is still viewable at the Scribd website even though that site now requires membership for most materials. Here is a link.

SC member, John Becker, is familiar with this "state envelope" story. Hopefully, he and perhaps others will add their knowledge here. John has an Indiana "state envelope" and has seen references to at least two others if I recall correctly. Maybe others have or know of other examples.

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Posted 05/22/2019   07:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add CL_Arctos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great information and a really interesting cover. Thanks for sharing!
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Posted 05/24/2019   8:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I know nothing of the track Sherman took, but was it really that all over the place going back and forth like he did not know where he was going as they went further into Georgia as the inked line on the map seems to show?
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Edited by Kimo - 05/24/2019 8:35 pm
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Posted 05/24/2019   11:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add modernstamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great Post!
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Posted 05/25/2019   12:05 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add HoosRec to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Sherman's Atlanta Campaign included three Union armies. The activities of the three armies were coordinated, but were not on the same track. The ink line on this cover represents only the movement of the Army of The Tennessee (named for the Tennessee River and not the state). The line is not entirely accurate, in large part because of the inaccuracies of the map itself.

If you follow the link in my initial post here, it takes you to my 19-page article that includes maps, other images and 45 footnotes that help explain the campaign. However, here is a map that we were unable to include in the article. It shows the route of the Army of The Tennessee that I've highlighted in blue, from just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jonesboro, Georgia. What it fails to show is the final leg of the route from Jonesboro back north to East point where they camped and where Will wrote his letter.

I had to downsize this map significantly to reduce the file size for Stamp Community. So, it's not very readable. This map and those I used in the article are all available online if you're interested.

The blue line on this map represents nearly 400 miles that the Army of The Tennessee traveled in that single campaign.

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