Civil War Prisoner Covers
By: Dan Ryterband

Mar 9 , 2021

At our last meeting of the New York Chapter USPCS on March 9, Dan Ryterband gave a fabulous presentation on his single frame “Civil War prisoner mail” exhibit.  The exhibit focused on prisoner of war mail that crossed the lines through flag of truce exchanges, including covers from CSA prisons that traveled northbound and ones from Union prisons that traveled southbound.  Dan provided us with a good deal of historical information regarding the exchange of prisoners during the war and the events leading to the cessation of prisoner exchanges and the explosion of prison populations.  He also provided background information on the various prisons and the conditions in which inmates were held.

Highlights of Dan’s presentation included: an express POW cover (one of 3 known); 10 cent Rose POW cover; Richland Jail cover with both Union and Confederate stamps;  and a wallpaper cover sent from the infamous Andersonville prison, censored by the commandant, Capt. Wirz.  Dan showed many other rare covers, a fair number franked with both Union and Confederate stamps.  The exhibit included two covers franked with both the 3 cent Union and the 20 cent Confederate stamp (out of 3 such POW covers known).  Other rare items included the two cent Confederate drop rate, with one cover franked with the 2 cent Jackson stamp.  The exhibit concluded with a cover sent by President Davis to his wife, while a prisoner at Fortress Monroe – one of three known postally used covers sent by the ex-president as a POW.  In essence, this exhibit showed the finest known examples of Civil War prisoner mail.