US Army Quartermaster's Department letter
This letter was sent by the Quartermaster’s Transportation Office of St Louis, Missouri in November of1862. Addressed to A.H. Markland, a special agent of the Post Office Department, it complains of the high cost for mail transportation and declines paying outstanding bills.
The role of the Quartermaster’s Department was integral to the armed forces of the Union during the Civil War. Supervising the logistical operations of the whole army, the department held the responsibility for maintaining adequate transport systems and paying any postage expenses incurred by the army.
Special agents were deployed by the Post Office Department to control the handling of mail at army bases. They were however under the direct supervision of the Quartermaster’s Department. Through this system special agent A.H. Markland was commended for his services by generals such as Grant and Sherman, despite never becoming a member of the armed forces.
Postal transportation services posed challenges for both military and civilian mail during the Civil War. The division of the country had effectively ripped the postal service in two, with pre-war stamps decommissioned and the new Confederate stamps not registered by the Union. There were limited ways to get mail across the border, including flag-of-truce exchanges, deviant routes using foreign ports or as private ‘ship’ mail.
Ainsworth, F.C, “Letter to Hon. Perry S Heath” in Report of the Post Master General, Military Mail Service, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 — Extracts from Official Reports.
National Postal Museum, “A Nation Divided” http://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2a6_anationdivided.html#article, (Accessed July 14, 2011).
US Army Quartermaster’s Foundation, “The Quartermaster’s Department 1861-1864” http://www.qmfound.com/quartermaster_1861-63.htm, (Accessed July 14, 2011).
OFFICE OF TRANSPORTATION,
St. Louis, Nov 1st 1862.
A H Markland Esq
Special Agt P.O. Dep
Your favor of the 21st [?] is
Rec'd [?] noted -
I have uniformly declined paying
any Bills for transportation of Mails. I am always
[?] the [?][?] the P.O. Dep. Some of the Bill
Presented was outrageously large.
Very Rep' Your Ob- Ser