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May 23, 2013/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two of the most important events of the Civil War were memorialized on Forever Stamps today at the sites where these conflicts took place — Gettysburg, PA, and Vicksburg, MS. Customers may purchase the Civil War Sesquicentennial 1863 collectible Forever Souvenir Stamp sheet at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide.
This issuance is the third of a five-year series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The sheet of 12 stamps includes two stamp designs — one depicting the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle of the war — and one depicting the Battle of Vicksburg, a complex Union campaign to gain control of the Mississippi River. The Postal Service began the Civil War Sesquicentennial Forever stamp series in 2011 with the issuance of the Fort Sumter and Battle of Bull Run Forever stamps. Last year, stamps memorializing the Battles of Antietam and New Orleans were issued.The background image on the 1863 souvenir sheet is a photograph taken by Mathew Brady shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg of captured Confederate soldiers, who reportedly posed for Brady on Seminary Ridge. The souvenir sheet includes comments on the war by Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, Rufus R. Dawes (a Union soldier), and William Tunnard (a Confederate soldier). It also includes some of the lyrics of "Lorena," a popular Civil War song by Henry D. L. Webster and Joseph P. Webster. The stamp series was designed by art director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA."Unquestionably, the Civil War was a horrific four years for our country. There was nothing 'civil' about it, and the devastation inflicted on the country as a result was on a scale that is hard to fully comprehend," said U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Vice Chairman James Bilbray in dedicating the Vicksburg stamp in the city where his great, great grandfather, a member of the Sixth Alabama Infantry Battalion, died during the siege. Joining Bilbray in dedicating the stamps at the USS Cairo Museum were Vicksburg National Park Superintendent Michael Madell; author and Louisiana State University Associate Professor of History Gary Joiner; and award-winning broadcaster Walt Grayson."Today, we are humbled by the opportunity to dedicate this new stamp honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice so our country could be whole and we could all prosper," said Gettysburg College alumnus and U.S. Postal Service Chief Human Resources Officer and Executive Vice President Jeff Williamson at the Gettysburg dedication ceremony. "In issuing these stamps, it is our fervent hope that it will help to strengthen what President Abraham Lincoln called the American people's 'mystic chords of memory' that stretch 'from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land.'"Joining Williamson in dedicating the stamps at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center were Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site Superintendent Bob Kirby; Gettysburg Mayor William Troxell; College of Gettysburg President Janet Morgan Riggs; and Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne Hanley. The Battle of Gettysburg stamp is a reproduction of an 1887 chromolithograph by Thure de Thulstrup(1848-1930), a Swedish-born artist who became an illustrator for Harper's Weekly after the Civil War. Thulstrup's work was one of a series of popular prints commissioned in the 1880s by Boston publisher Louis Prang & Co. to commemorate the Civil War.The Battle of Vicksburg stamp is a reproduction of an 1863 lithograph by Currier & Ives titled "Admiral Porter's Fleet Running the Rebel Blockade of the Mississippi at Vicksburg, April 16th, 1863."The Battle of Gettysburg and Battle of Vicksburg stamps are being issued as Forever Stamps which are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 - 3, 1863In June 1863, Confederate general Robert E. Lee began to carry out his bold plan to invade Pennsylvania and perhaps deal a decisive blow to the Union. By the end of the month, troops from his Army of Northern Virginia had moved out of Fredericksburg, VA, and crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, on their way toward Pennsylvania. There, on July 1, near the small town of Gettysburg, Lee's forces would meet those of Major General George Gordon Meade, the newly appointed Union commander of the Army of the Potomac.The ensuing three-day Battle of Gettysburg — in places soon known across the nation as the Peach Orchard, Little Round Top, and Devil's Den — was the largest battle fought during the war and Lee's first major defeat. Casualties exceeded 50,000, including more than 7,500 killed or mortally wounded. For Lee's forces and the South, Gettysburg has often been called the "high water mark of the Rebellion."The Siege at Vicksburg, April 16 - July 4, 1863Taking place at the same time in the western theater was the climax of the longest and most complex military campaign of the Civil War: the Battle of Vicksburg. A busy port city, Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold preventing the Union from gaining complete control over the Mississippi River. President Abraham Lincoln considered its capture "the key" to bringing the war to an end.After the U.S. Navy was unable to bombard the city into submission, General Ulysses S. Grant planned and implemented what has been called "the greatest amphibious operation in American history up to that time." Grant marched his troops south along the western bank of the Mississippi River, and the Navy transported more than 20,000 men east across the river to an undefended site well below Vicksburg. The troops then mounted an attack from the open ground east of the city. Their assault began on May 19, but a long siege commenced after frontal attacks failed. Finally, six weeks into the siege and with the city in ruins, Confederate General John C. Pemberton arranged a meeting with Grant and surrendered on July 4, one day after the Union victory at Gettysburg. Many of this year's other stamps may be viewed on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, via Twitter @USPSstamps or at beyondtheperf.com/2013-preview.First-Day-of-Issue PostmarksCustomers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase stamps at a local Post Office, The Postal Store at usps.com/stamps, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. Customers should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:Civil War: 1863 Stamp ( Vicksburg, MS) Postmaster 3415 Pemberton Blvd. Vicksburg, MS 39180-9998 Civil War: 1863 Stamp ( Gettysburg, PA) Postmaster 115 Buford Avenue Gettysburg, PA 17325-9998After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. While the first 50 postmarks are free, there is a five-cent charge per postmark beyond that. All orders must be postmarked by July 23, 2013.First-Day CoversThe Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at usps.com/stamps or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:United States Postal Service Catalog RequestPO Box 219014 Kansas City, MO 64121-9014Philatelic ProductsThere are ten philatelic products available for this stamp issue:A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world's mail. If it were a private-sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for seven years and the fourth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.