The Post Office Service Role in the US Confederate States

The Confederate States of America established the Post Office Department in 1861. About 2 weeks later, Montgomery Blair was appointed as the Postmaster General of the United States. The next day, John H. Reagan was also appointed Postmaster General of the Confederate States by Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

At this time, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana had already seceded. This was followed months later by Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee. Reagan, however, allowed postmasters in the South to continue servicing accounts in the North, at least until after the organization of the postal system in the Confederate States.

Reagan also offered postal service jobs to men from the South, asking them to work in Washington. It was a good move, since many of these men accepted posts and brought with them their knowledge and expertise, along with useful information and documents relating to the postal service.

In mid-1961, a proclamation was issued by Reagan stating his intention to take control of the Confederate States' postal service. In response, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair ordered the delivery of mails to the South to stop.

Reagan was a very capable head of the Confederate Post Office but problems continuously plagued the department. To correct them, Reagan increased postage rates, streamlined mail routes, cut pay and the number of personnel but it wasn't enough. The North's army was closing in and there was a shortage of stamps which greatly affected the South's postal operations.

Federal postal service only resumed gradually in the South as the war ended. By late 1865, nearly 250 postal routes were already up and running to service the Southern states. About a year later, over 3,000 of the 8.902 post offices were turned over to be placed under federal control.

For his troubles, Reagan was arrested but was eventually pardoned. He later headed the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.

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