Civil War Confederate Col. Walter H. Taylor Wartime Envelope W Confederate Stamp For SaleUp for sale is an old envelope with a Confederate stamp that once contained a Civil Wartime letter from Confederate Lt. Colonial Walter Herron Taylor to his future wife, Elizabeth "Bettie" Selden Saunders. The cover is stamped Gordonsville, Aug. 25, 63. This envelope was addressed by the hand of Taylor, stamped with a 10 cent Confederate stamp, and sent to Bettie Saunders who lived in Richmond, Va.
Walter Herron Taylor was an aide to Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the beginning until the end of the Civil War and is widely known as Lee's closest Staff member throughout the war. Taylor's fiancée, "Bettie" Saunders, was the daughter of United States Navy Captain John L. Saunders and Mrs. Martha Bland Selden Saunders. Miss Saunders lived during the war with the family of Lewis D. Crenshaw in Richmond, Virginia where she worked in the Confederate Mint and for the Surgeon General in the Confederate Medical Department.
Colonel Walter H. Taylor was an exceedingly capable officer and shouldered many burdensome responsibilities, serving as Lee’s Chief Aide-de-camp to the end of the war. Among his many duties, Taylor wrote dispatches and orders for Lee, performed reconnaissance, and often carried messages in person to corps and division commanders. For example, the famous "if practicable" order from Lee to General Richard S. Ewell, at his line below Cemetery Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg, was personally delivered by Taylor.
In the last few days of the Siege of Petersburg, Richmond was evacuated. Taylor, then 26 years old, received special permission from General Lee to go to Richmond to give Miss Saunders "the protection of his name." He sent a messenger ahead to Richmond to make certain arrangements with the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. After midnight, on April 3, 1865, Taylor and Miss Saunders were married in the parlor of her residence, even as evacuating Confederates set fire to the city.
One week after the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, Taylor returned to Richmond in the company of General Lee. It was at this point in time that Matthew Brady took the now-famous photographs of Taylor and Custis Lee standing at the side of General Robert E. Lee. Shortly thereafter, Taylor picked up his bride and drove her back to Norfolk in a buggy. In the words of Mrs. Taylor, they “started anew, poor but proud.”
My husband's great great grandfather was Colonel Walter H. Taylor and recently my mother-in-law and I have been going through the items of his that are currently in her possession. I came across 10 empty Civil Wartime dated envelopes that Colonel Taylor had addressed and sent to his fiancé at the time Miss Bettie Selden Saunders in Richmond, Va.
There were actually 110 of these letters (the rest were burned by Bettie) that were all donated to the Norfolk Public Library of Va in 1964, where they still remain today, by my mother in law's aunt Janet Fauntleroy Taylor. Janet was the Granddaughter of Colonel Walter H. Taylor. One of these wartime letters was actually seized by Union troops in 1864 bc of sensitive Confederate war details. Bettie's mother Martha B. Saunders had her house raided and the Union troops confiscated the letter which was later returned the Taylor family (donated with the other letters to Norfolk Public Library of VA) after the end of the Civil War.
In 1995 R. Lockwood Tower was granted access to the letters by the Taylor family to help write his book "Lees Adjutant" about Colonel Taylor. However, Tower was not the first author with permission to read the letters.
Author and historian Douglas Southall Freeman was the first to be granted access to these letters. In his monumental biography of Robert E. Lee that won a Pulitzer Prize, author Douglas Southall Freeman referred to the papers and letters of Colonel W.H. Taylor as "These precious MSS. constitute the most important source of collateral manuscript material on the military career of General Lee".
We own both Freeman and Towers books that are signed by the authors and even include personal messages thanking the Taylor family for their assistance in helping them write these important books (see pics for reference).
This envelope and the Confederate stamp are both extremely rare and really important examples of our history and would make a great addition to any Confederate, Civil War, stamp, or historical collection. The stamp is uncertified and ungraded. There have not been any alterations that have been made to to this stamp.
Please see scans and photos for more details and feel free to ask me any questions that you may have. Freeman's books and message/autograph, Towers book and letter, and Col. Taylor's personal Mathew Brady photo are not included in this sale. They are just being used as a reference for verification of the authenticity of this sale. Free shipping to the winning buyer. Make sure to check out my other sales related to Taylor, the Taylor family, and the Civil War. Thanks for viewing my sale!
Posted with MobileOn Oct-03-13 at 19:58:56 PDT, seller added the following information:
NOTE TO BUYERS- I felt the need to correct my spelling in the FIRST SENTENCE of my description on this item. I obviously meant "Colonel" not "Colonial"....Autofill on my iPad...Frustrating!.....Whoops!On Oct-04-13 at 19:06:23 PDT, seller added the following information:I felt it necessary to also add this note to Buyers-If you would like to see/read the letter in it's entirety that was originally sent inside this envelope please refer to page 71, 72, and 73 of the book Lee's Adjutantby R. Lockwood Tower
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