1937 Four-Cent Army Stamp: Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Stratford Hall

Army and Navy Commemorative Stamp Series 1936-1937

From December 1936 to May 1937, the United States Post Office issued a series of ten commemorative postage stamps depicting war heroes from the Army and Navy.

The Army stamps feature Generals from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and both the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War, as well as the United States Military Academy where many of them were trained. The Navy stamps feature a comparable group of naval heroes.

These commemorative stamps provide a fascinating short tour of America's military history.

Facts about This Stamp

  • Date and Place Issued: March 23, 1937, in Washington, D.C.
  • Quantity issued: 35,794,150
  • Designer: William K. Schrage
  • Engravers: L. C. Kauffmann & J. Eissler (vignette), E. M. Hall (lettering)
  • Scott Catalog No. 788

Four-Cent Army Stamp

The gray 4¢ Army stamp features portraits of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, with a view of Stratford Hall, Lee’s ancestral home.

This stamp represents one of the few instances in which military leaders who bore arms against the United States have been featured on a U.S. postage stamp.

This is the fourth stamp in the five-stamp Army series, which also includes

The corresponding four-cent gray Navy stamp, featuring Admirals William Sampson, George Dewey, and Winfield Scott Schley, was issued on the same date as the four-cent Army stamp.

Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee | Source

Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)

The son of Revolutionary War officer Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee III, Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1829. Lee was commissioned in the Army Corps of Engineers and worked on many engineering projects throughout the country, ultimately being promoted to captain.

In the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Lee was assigned as a chief aide to General Winfield Scott, distinguishing himself in reconnaissance as well as in battle. From 1852-1855, Lee served as superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point. He received his first combat command in 1855.

After Texas seceded from the Union, Lee returned to Washington, where the newly elected President Lincoln promoted him to colonel. Although he did not favor the dissolution of the Union, Lee resigned from the U.S. Army in April 1861 and took the command of the Virginia forces. Lee was soon appointed a general in the Confederate States Army. In 1862 he took command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He drove the Union Army north, and his victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run brought the war to within a few miles of Washington, D.C. Lee won a substantial victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May 1863. He invaded the north but his army suffered huge losses in the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from which the South never recovered. Lee finally surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865.

After the war, Lee served as president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and worked for the reconciliation of the North and the South. In 1865, he applied for amnesty and a pardon in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Andrew Johnson, but his amnesty oath was lost and he did not receive a pardon. Lee’s U.S. citizenship was finally restored posthumously in 1975.

Stonewall Jackson, April 1863
Stonewall Jackson, April 1863 | Source

Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863)

Orphaned at a young age, and largely self-taught, Jackson was nonetheless accepted to the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1846. He served with the artillery in the Mexican-American War, during which he earned more promotions than any other officer, rising to the brevet rank of major. In 1851, Jackson began teaching at the Virginia Military Institute, where he remained until joining the Confederate Army as a colonel.

Jackson’s first command was at Harper’s Ferry, where he became known for the great discipline that he instilled in his Virginia infantry regiments. He received his famous nickname “Stonewall” at the First Battle of Bull Run, where he stopped a heavy assault by the Union forces. Jackson won successive victories in the Valley Campaign in 1862 and built his reputation as a master tactician. He was less successful in the ill-fated Seven Days Battles under General Lee, but scored significant victories in the Northern Virginia Campaign, including the Battle of Fredericksburg.

In May 1863, Jackson’s army routed the Union forces with brilliant tactical maneuvers at the Battle of Chancellorsville, but Jackson was mistakenly shot afterwards by a Confederate sentry, and he died of pneumonia a few days later. Jackson was greatly admired throughout the Confederacy, and his death was a strong blow to Southern morale.

Stratford Hall
Stratford Hall | Source

Stratford Hall - Robert E. Lee's Birthplace

Robert E. Lee’s birthplace, Stratford Hall, is located on the bank of the Potomac River on the Northern Neck peninsula of Virginia.

Thomas Lee, a founder of the Ohio Company and acting Governor of Virginia, purchased the land for the Stratford Hall plantation in 1717. Beginning in 1730 he built the brick Georgian Great House and built a wharf and gristmill at Stratford Landing on the river. Thomas Lee and his wife Hannah had eight children, most of whom achieved prominence. They included two signers of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first judges of Virginia’s supreme court, two diplomats during the Revolutionary War, and an early proponent of women’s rights.

Ownership of Stratford Hall passed to Thomas Lee’s son Philip and then to his daughter, known as “the divine Matilda.” She married her cousin, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III and left him a life estate in the property when she died after only eight years of marriage. Robert E. Lee was born at Stratford Hall to Henry and his second wife, but the family moved from Stratford when Robert was four years old, due to financial difficulties.

In 1929, a group of women formed the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation (now “Association”) to purchase and restore the property. Dedicated in 1935, Stratford Hall was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is open to the public.

Visit Stratford Hall

A markerStratford Hall, Virginia -
Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Rd, Stratford, VA 22558-0001, USA
[get directions]

Learn History by Collecting Stamps

You now know some of the history behind the four-cent Army stamp of 1937.

Collecting postage stamps, especially commemorative stamps, is a great way for both adults and children to learn about history. The U.S. Post Office has issued hundreds of commemoratives, and thousands of other fascinating stamps have been issued by countries throughout the world.

Most of these stamps are available to collectors. The hobby is very affordable. If you try it, you're sure to enjoy stamp collecting!

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Comments 7 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Very nicely done, Brian. My late father was a huge Civil War historian. Our first dog was even called Stonewall after Stonewall Jackson. I do not think he was aware of these postage stamps. So how much are these stamps worth today? An interesting hub that I am voting up and interesting.

brianlokker profile image

brianlokker 4 years ago from Washington DC metro area Author

Cogerson, thanks for the comment and votes. Very cool that your dog was named Stonewall. As I mentioned, it was unusual for U.S. stamps to recognize anyone who bore arms against the United States. According to the write-up on the Mystic Stamp Co. website, many Southern stamp collectors were upset that Lee is pictured with only two stars on his uniform instead of three, as he was a three-star general. The Post Office maintained that it was an error rather than an intentional attempt to diminish Lee's standing. The stamps are not worth all that much, probably because many were bought by collectors rather than circulated. In mint condition this one is worth about $1.25, with the others in the series ranging between $0.35 and $1.75.

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I would have thought the value would have been much higher, but if only collector's bought them.....then I guess they have all been saved and thus the value stayed down...thanks for the information.

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting Brian. Awesome history about the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall. I have always been interested in American history and the Civil War. This is a very well written article pal. Great work.

brianlokker profile image

brianlokker 4 years ago from Washington DC metro area Author

Thanks so much, lyricwriter. I love American history, including Civil War history, too and hope to write more about it. Thanks for your votes.

khagendra khatri 3 years ago

I'm from nepal, i'm interested in usa & european stamps collection and also i've postage stamps collection album, and also i'm showing some old rare stamps in my own face book, actually stamps is a history of acountry,..

brianlokker profile image

brianlokker 3 years ago from Washington DC metro area Author

Khagendra - thank you for reading the article and commenting. I agree that stamps provide a great way to learn about a country's history. I would like to learn more about Nepal.

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