1870-71 24¢ Scott
National Bank Note Printing
Earliest Known Use: November 18, 1870
Quantity issued: 1,144,400 (estimate)
Printed by: National Bank Note Company
Method: Flat plate
A military hero, Winfield Scott served in the Army for 53 years. A stickler for discipline, his nickname was “Old Fuss and Feathers.”
Bank Notes 1870-1888
Due to the unpopularity of the 1869 Pictorial series, the Postmaster General found it necessary to issue new stamps. Among the public’s many complaints were that the stamps were too small, unattractive, and of inferior quality. Thus, the new issues were not only larger and better quality, but they also carried new designs. Heads, in profile, of famous deceased Americans were chosen as the new subject matter.
Nicknamed the “Bank Note” stamps, this series was printed by three prominent Bank Note printing companies – the National, Continental, and American Bank Note Companies, in that order. As the contract for printing passed from company to company, so did the dies and plates. Each company printed the stamps with slight variations, and identifying them can be both challenging and complex.
Because the pictorials were to be printed for four years, but were withdrawn from sale after a year, the National Bank Note Company still had three years remaining in their contract. The stamps they printed were produced with and without grills.
In 1873, new bids were submitted and a new contract was awarded to the continental Bank Note Company. So-called “secret marks” enabled them to distinguish their plates and stamps from earlier ones.
The American Bank Note Company acquired Continental in 1879 and assumed the contract Continental had held. This firm, however, printed the stamps on a soft paper, which has different qualities than the hard paper used by the previous companies.
Color variations, in addition to secret marks and different paper types, are helpful in determining the different varieties. These classic stamps are a truly fascinating area of philately.
Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan”
On May 3, 1861, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott presented a plan to end the Civil War without a great loss of life – it was later dubbed the “Anaconda Plan.”
At the beginning of the Civil War, many in Washington, DC, felt the Union would defeat the Confederacy in a short time. General Winfield Scott was a seasoned soldier and skilled strategist, so he knew the war would be drawn out.
Scott’s plan, which he outlined to Major General George McClellan in a letter on May 3, 1861, involved blockading ports and controlling the Mississippi River. His goal was to “envelop the insurgent States and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan.” McClellan and the impatient press called it the “Anaconda Plan” because it would slowly suffocate the South. His opponents wanted to immediately head to the Confederate capital of Richmond, capture it, and force the collapse of seceded states.
Scott’s plan would take time. Steamships had to be built to navigate the Mississippi and 60,000 troops had to be recruited and trained. Scott’s proposal for the Mississippi region was to begin in the North and march steadily south. The heavily armed boats would accompany army transport boats that would capture Confederate forts. The remaining troops would follow to secure the territory. The final battle would take place in New Orleans and the river would be in the hands of the Union, cutting off the Confederate supply lines in the West.
Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, a blockade would prevent the export of cotton and import of supplies from foreign countries. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline, this would have been a tremendous undertaking involving more ships and men.
In the early months of the war, Scott was in conflict with President Lincoln and George McClellan wanted to replace him. Scott was eventually pushed to resign and was replaced by McClellan. Though Scott’s proposal was ridiculed in the early days of the war, as the fighting progressed, many of his ideas were implemented to defeat the Confederacy.
On April 19, 1861, Lincoln ordered the blockade. The Battle of Port Royal in November 1861 helped secure the blockade of the southern coast. Capturing this South Carolina port allowed the Union Navy to maintain coaling stations and repair facilities in Confederate territory. In theory, the blockade closed 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline and twelve major ports, including the top two cotton exporters.
The US Navy was too small to enforce the blockade when it was announced, forcing the Union to commission 500 ships. Over the course of the war, the Union captured or destroyed around 1,500 blockade-runners as they tried to ship cotton out of the South and deliver much-needed supplies to the Confederacy. In spite of the Union successes, five out of six blockade-runners were successful. Their efforts were hampered by their size, though, as they were only able to carry a small fraction of the usual cargo.
In April 1862, the Union followed through on another part of the Anaconda Plan with the Battle of New Orleans. There, US ships bombarded Southern forts for 10 days before reaching the city. Confederate forces crumbled under the thunderous fire of the Federal gunboats. With the capture of New Orleans, the Union isolated the city from foreign aid and took control of the Mississippi River, which helped seal the Confederacy’s fate.
Click here to view an 1861 drawing depicting Scott’s Anaconda Plan.