1895 5¢ Grant
Issued: June 11, 1895
Issue Quantity: 123,775,455
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Watermark: Double line USPS
Although a relatively small number of U.S. #270 stamps were produced, 24 plates were required for the print run. That’s because impurities in the ink wore the plates quickly.
The 1895 5¢ Grant was in use until March of 1898, when it was changed to blue to satisfy the Universal Postal Union’s recommendations.
Why Watermarks Were Added in 1895
The “Chicago Counterfeits,” as the scandal came to be known, was one of the few counterfeits in the history of U.S. postage stamps. The Post Office Department was made aware of the matter when Edward Lowry contacted Postal Inspector James Stuart. Lowry wanted to know if the Postal Department had any objection to his purchasing the 2¢ current issue at less than face value, as advertised in the Chicago Tribune. The ad read, “We have $115 U.S. two cent stamps which we cannot use here, will send them by express C.O.D. privilege of examination for $100. Canadian Novelty Supply Agency, Hamilton, Ontario, Can.” In essence, they were offering 5,750 stamps worth $115 for $100. The deal sounded suspicious to Inspector Stuart, and in cooperation with Lowry, had him send a request for the stamps.
At about the same time, Nathan Herman called the ad to the attention of U.S. Secret Service agent, Captain Thomas Porter, who joined forces with Inspector Stuart. The agents also had Herman write for a package of stamps. On April 8, 1895, the stamps, which Lowry and Herman had ordered, arrived at the Chicago office of the Wells Fargo Express Company. In addition, five other similar packages arrived, ordered by other people who had seen the ad. Interestingly enough, each of them had received the proper number of stamps. Over 40,000 stamps were confiscated that day!
Meanwhile, on April 6th, Captain Porter was notified that a Mrs. Lacy and her daughter, Tinsa McMillan, had some sort of printing operation set up in a back room of their apartment. When Porter, along with several agents and police officers, searched the apartment later that same evening, they found a copying camera, a perforating machine, copper printing plates, gummed paper, and other paraphernalia for producing stamps. Suspecting they were on the right track, he and Inspector Stuart traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, where they arrested Tinsa McMillan at the office of the Canadian Novelty Supply Company. As head of the organization, she had organized and directed the entire affair, and was sentenced to a year and a half in a reformatory.
A Mr. George Morrison was also arrested over a week later at his downtown Chicago office. A printing press was found there, but no other supplies. Apparently, the stamps were printed at his office and then shipped to Canada.
Seven months later, a Mr. Warren Thompson was arrested. The owner and editor of a magazine called Heart and Hand, he had assisted in making the stamps and was using them as postage on his periodical as a test to determine if the stamps would be discovered when passing through the mail. Thirty thousand more counterfeit stamps were confiscated, bringing the total up to over 70,000 confiscated stamps!
After the 1895 counterfeiting scam, the Post Office Department made the decision to print the stamps on watermarked paper. A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture. While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it. These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, and thus imprinting the design.
Beginning with the first postage stamp, watermarks were used to discourage counterfeiting. Britain’s Penny Black was watermarked with a small, simple crown. Various other designs were used until 1967, when Britain produced its first stamp on unwatermarked paper. Today, many British commonwealth countries still use watermarks. The designs range from letters to symbols or emblems, from the simple to the intricate.
The first U.S. watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as being “double-lined.” The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters will appear on a stamp. Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it. When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark. Consequently, the watermark may be backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp. None are unusual or considered a separate variety.
Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue). Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened. Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.
A watermark can be identified by holding the stamp up to a light source, or with the aid of a watermark tray and benzine fluid. When the stamps are printed on a colored background, as the 1895 series is, the latter method is preferred. The stamp is placed face down in the tray, and a small drop of solution is dropped onto it. As the liquid penetrates the paper, the watermark will show up briefly, as the thinner paper is penetrated first.
Battle Of Nashville
On December 15, 1864, Union forces launched the successful Battle of Nashville.
Confederate General John Bell Hood was defeated at Franklin, and his Army of Tennessee suffered great losses. In spite of being greatly outnumbered, he pressed on to the well-fortified stronghold of Nashville. On December 2, 1864, the Rebels approached the city from the south. Hood knew his forces were not strong enough to attack the Union, so the Southern army put up four miles of defenses and waited for the enemy to attack.
Major General John Schofield and his victorious Army of Ohio had arrived from Franklin the day before Hood’s men. They joined the Union forces that were already reinforcing the lines of defense around Nashville. The works stretched for seven miles in a semicircle, protecting the city on the south and west. The Cumberland River formed a natural defense around the rest. The troops inside numbered about 55,000 men. Major General George Thomas was in command.
Thomas began preparing for an assault on Hood. His cavalry needed fresh horses and better arms. The commander knew they would be facing Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the best cavalry leaders on either side of the war.
Leaders in Washington were getting impatient with the delay. They were concerned Hood would move away from Nashville and invade Kentucky or Ohio. Commander Ulysses S. Grant ordered a replacement to go to Nashville if Thomas did not begin his attack by December 13. In fact, Grant was on his way to take over himself when he heard Thomas had finally made his move.
In the early hours of December 15, Thomas sent two brigades toward the right of the Confederate line in the hopes of drawing Southern troops away from the main attack. These men had the least experience of any of the Union soldiers in Nashville and included three regiments of US Colored Troops, who had previously guarded the railroads. After overtaking the skirmish line, they faced heavy fire and retreated. The brigades reformed and held the Confederates for the rest of the day. Though they were successful in engaging forces on the right, Hood did not send additional support as Thomas predicted.
While those brigades were in the midst of combat, a large movement was set in motion on the west side of the Rebel line. A corps of cavalry led the way and swept the opponents’ cavalry from the area. Two corps of infantry followed the Union horsemen, the second held in reserve. At about 2:30 pm, the North began attacking a series of five redoubts (temporary forts) that guarded the Confederate left. Redoubts number two through five fell in quick succession.
While that portion of the Union force was attacking to the west, another corps made a frontal assault. They had prepared to meet the enemy on Montgomery Hill, but the Confederates had retreated to a stronger position. The oncoming army met only a skirmish line on the hill and then advanced to the main army. Soldiers coming from both directions captured the last redoubt, and the Confederates retreated to a new line to the south. Fighting ended as both sides prepared for another conflict the following day.
The new Confederate line was shorter than the previous one and the flanks were protected by Peach Orchard Hill to the east and Compton’s Hill on the west. During the night and early morning, additional defense works were hastily built. Thomas would once again attack the Rebels from multiple directions, starting on the enemy’s right. Peach Orchard Hill became the focus of the first assault beginning at about 3:00 in the afternoon. This time, Southern artillery and musket fire stopped the advance. The 13th US Colored Troops, however, did not turn back. They captured the Confederate parapet at the cost of about 40 percent of their unit. Unlike the day before, Hood shifted his forces to reinforce his right flank. As a result, the line guarding Compton’s Hill was depleted.
Meanwhile, the Union cavalry was making its way to the Confederate rear around the left flank. Southern forces were stretched even farther to protect the rear. Schofield had been instructed to lead the frontal attack, but he delayed. Division commander John McArthur sent word to Thomas he would begin an attack in five minutes unless he was directed otherwise. McArthur’s brigades charged forward over Compton’s Hill in three separate columns, overwhelming the Confederates. The Rebels retreated to the south towards Franklin, with the Union cavalry in pursuit.
The Army of Tennessee continued south, with the enemy close behind. When it reached Alabama, the Union gave up their chase. Hood then led his army to Tupelo, Mississippi, where he resigned his command. He had begun his campaign in Tennessee with approximately 38,000 men. On January 13, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard reported there were fewer than 15,000 remaining.