“On June 29,1995, the U.S. Post Office issued a set of 20 commemorative stamps showing 16 individuals and 4 battles of the Civil War. Official first day of issue ceremonies were held in front of the Cyclorama Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. A pictorial cancellation showing a Civil War cannon was available at the ceremony. However, as the Postal Service also released the set of stamps nationwide, numerous unofficial first day of issue cancellations were possible.
“Unlike the usual policy of commemorative stamps being issued on significant anniversaries of persons or events, the set of 20 stamps were not intended to mark any date associated with the Civil War. Rather, they were the second in a series known as Classic Collections, which feature 20 stamps related to a theme, with historical information about each stamp printed on the back.
“Three of the stamps in the set had a tie to Georgia — those featuring generals Stand Watie, Joseph E. Johnston, and William T. Sherman. Interestingly, this set marked the first time the Postal Service has issued a U.S. stamp showing a Confederate flag (except for the 1976 Bicentennial set of state flags, which showed the battle flag on the state flags of Georgia and Mississippi). The 1995 set showed several Confederate battle flags and the Stars and Bars on the C.S.S. Virginia (though shown with a mistake). In the selvage (margin) at the top of the sheet can be seen an array of Confederate and Union flags.”
(c) Carl Vinson Institute of Government, The University of Georgia
Note this Georgia-based reference to the “C.S.S. Virginia,” which is the re-named U.S.S. Merrimack (built in 1855 and named for the Merrimack River), a ship that was captured by the South, armored-up, and then re-named “Virginia.” What many of you reading this learned in school was that the famous 1862 ironclad battle was between the “Monitor and the Merrimack,” but not so in the Confederate States’ account of the naval contest. Some Southerners blame faulty news reporting by Northern papers for the historical misnomer. In 1861, the original “Merrimack” was captured in the harbor at Norfolk, Va., where the U.S. Navy had sunk the ship to prevent use by secessionists. The hull was raised and converted into an ironclad for the South’s navy. See the C.S.S. Virginia website.—PM