1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue
Troops Guarding Train
8¢ - Violet brown or dark violet brown
Scott #289 - 1898
No postmark with gum (MH): $25-$70
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $80-$300
8¢ - Violet brown or dark violet brown
2,900,000 - Scott #289a Imperf. horiz. - 1898
Only 25 pairs exist
Spring 2002: MH $18,000
Spring 2005 Auction: MH $12,000
Fall 2008 Auction: MH $23,000
Spring 2009 Auction: MH $19,000 MNH $31,250
Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use,
a first day cover from June 17th 1898
Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)
A full pane of #289
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Double lined USPS watermark.
Quantity Issued: 2,900,000
What you should look for
THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR
Patriotic covers were extremely popular during the civil war, as
a result they were produced for the Spanish American War. They are
as common as the Civil War covers.
The most common cover - $50-$200
Another example - $300
There are many different designs, prices range from $50-$750
The Inspiration for the Design
Despite the fact that the Trans-Mississippi became known as the first attempt to showcase
the first americans, it was really a showcase for the west. So the 'other' side was depicted.
This being the US Cavalry. The US government had no use for the masses of commissioned Union
troops after the civil war and so they were sent out to protect the white immigrants from the
'heathen's' and 'savages'. Conversly the first americans saw trespassers on their land, who at
some later date, they knew would occupy it and take it away from them.
The vignette is a copy of a Frederic Remington painting titled 'Protecting a Wagon
Train'. The choice of this artist is appropriate as he more than any other is associated
with wild wild west as we imagine it today. Many of his works portrayed fictious stories
and scenes and the painting below is no exception.
The Union recruits quickly left and it was extremely difficult to find recruits for this
difficult, hazardous and sometimes fatal duty. The Plains Cavalry became the equivalent of
the French Foriegn Legion, where men could dissapear, and many had arrest warrants on them.
The ranks of the enlisted were filled with criminals, adventurers and many ex-confederate
officers now serving as corporals and sergeants.
Due to the fact that the cavalry was stretched thin it would have been rare to have as many
cavaly as you see protecting a wagon train in the stamp. A troop consisted of 98 men, of
which only a large portion would be garrisoned at the fort and patrols were split between
protecting wagon trains, search and destroy missions.
A 1862 photograph of a wagon train showing typical coverage by the US Cavalry
A couple of things do ring true. The horses look to be in a fine condition in the painting,
and the cavalry were particular about their horses (no cavalry walked with a wagon train).
Also notice the faithful depiction of the Cavalry uniform, along with the .45/70 Springfield
Carbines. You will notice that the soldier to the right of the horse is carrying a sabre,
which were in fact, never carried on campaigns or patrols.
For the first Americans part, they saw the white man as invadors and tried all
means to stamp them out, it became a mean and nasty war. The US Cavalry artillery
and the white mans killing of the buffalo being too much for them. The Apache nation
was particularly vicious, they hoped by scalping, slowly torturing and doing all
manner of horrific things on the settlers it would discourage them.
And as a last mention, two of the Cavalry regiments, the 9th and 10th (the 7th by
the way were wiped out at the Battle of Little Big Horn), were comprised of African
Americans commanded by white officers, these soldiers were known as 'The Buffalo Soldiers'
Protecting a Wagon Train
By Frederic Remington was the inspiration for this design
'Troops Guarding the Supply Train'
By Frederic Remington, notice the repeat use of the kneeling
soldier second to the right.
The Springfield, single shot, trapdoor breech-loading .45/70 rifle,
shown in the stamps design
The Essay's and Proofs
Large Die Essay on India
Die sunk on card
Small Die Essay
Die sunk on card
The original bi-color design.
The bi-color design had to be dropped as the bi-color printing process
was taxed to the max printing revenue stamps for the Spanish-American
war that had broken out.
Small Die Essay
Die sunk on card
Small Die Proof
Black Hawk War, Ft. Armstrong] letter by Maj. Morrill Marston, commander of Fort Armstrong,
Illinois, to Sabrina Marston in Hampton, NH, September 25, 1820.
"My situation here...was rather unpleasant last spring, in consequence of the hostility
of the Winebagoe Indians. Two of my men were shot & scalped by them a short distance
from the fort; they passed out of the garrison with an axe for the purpose of cutting a
gun rod & probably did not discover the Indians until they were fired upon. The murderers
have been delivered up by the chiefs of their nation, and are now well ironed & in close
confinement at this place. The only cause they assign for their conduct is, that some of
their people were killed by the whites several years since...The (Sac and Fox) Indians in the
vicinity of the garrison have always been friendly. It is only the Winebagoes who reside a
considerable distance from this place that I have ever had any trouble with, & these
Indians at present appear to be disposed to conduct themselves in a friendly manner."
The great war chief Black Hawk had been born on the very island where Ft. Armstrong stood.
It would be at the same place that he signed the treaty ending the Black Hawk War,
and ceding much of his people's land to white settlers.
The contents of the above letter is an eye witness account of the aftermath of the Indian Creek massacre,
attributed to Black Hawk's warriors at the time, but in fact was Potawatomi
warriors acting on a personal revenge mission (details below) and led by a white man,
Mike Girty. The event was so sensationalized in the news that it became the rallying
call in Congress to stamp out Blackhawk. The two young ladies taken hostage were
portrayed as the sexual victims of savages, when in fact they were guarded by two
aged warriors and respected.
At the house of a Wm. Davis on Indian Creek on the morning of the 22nd....we witnessed
one of the most shocking sights that could possibly be presented to the human senses.
There were three families assembled at Davis' house for security, consisting of seventeen
persons men, women and children, fifteen of whom we found laying in the house and around it,
all shot, speared, tomahawked and scalped with the exception of an infant and woman who were
not scalped but were much mangled, and the cruelty perpetrated upon the bodies of the slain
was enough to have shocked the senses of even a savage. Two were missing supposed to be
prisoners both young girls. The massacre was committed on the evening of the 21st....We
buried the dead in the best possible manner....this country is completely desolate the
houses and farms abandoned and most of the houses broken open...and some of them burned."
The two girls mentioned above were the Hall sisters and they were eventually
recovered from their first american captivity
The Hall Sisters (there was no third captive as shown)
[The sisters] state, that after being compelled to witness, not only the savage butchery of
their beloved parents, but to hear the heart-piercing screeches and dying groans of their
expiring friends and neighbors, and the hideous yells of the furious assaulting savages,
they were seized and mounted upon horses, to which they were secured by ropes, when the
savages with an exulting shout, took up their line of march in Indian file, bending their
course west; the horses on which the females were mounted, being each led by one of their
number, while two more walked on each side with their blood-stained scalping knives and
tomahawks, to support and to guard them -- After 9 days in captivity, Indian agent
Henry Gratiot paid a ransom of ten horses, wampum and corn, with the Ho-Chunk acting as
mediators, and the Hall sisters were returned unhurt on June 1st, with the help of Black Hawk's
Sauk nation. The head of the Hall household, earlier in 1832, had publicly whipped and
humiliated a Potatwatomi warrior, and on May 21st this warrior returned to settle the score.
Chief Black Hawk
On September 21, 1832, the Black Hawk War officially came to a close with a
treaty approved at Fort Armstrong, on the site of present day Rock Island,
Illinois. In this treaty the remaining Sac and Fox Indians agreed to cede the
lands they occupied west of the Mississippi River to the United States. Black
Hawk, two of his sons, and other Sac and Fox fighters had already been taken
to the fort as prisoners after their captures in the wake of the Massacre at
Bad Axe. After spending the winter imprisoned at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis,
the men were taken east. There they met with President Andrew Jackson and became
subjects of great curiosity in the white population. After a brief period of
imprisonment at Fortress Monroe at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Sac and Fox
fighters were returned to the Iowa territory to occupy the small reservation
allotted their people by the Treaty of Fort Armstrong. Black Hawk died there in 1838.
On June 18,1998, the U.S. Postal Service reissued the set of nine commemorative
stamps originally released in 1898. For the 1998 reissue, the Trans-Mississippi
stamps were issued bi-colored as originally intended. In one other change, the
vignettes in the 2-cent and 2-dollar stamps were switched. First day of issue
ceremonies were held at the American Stamp Dealers Association Postage Stamp
Show in Anaheim, California.