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.
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
- a 1¢ stamp featuring George Washington, Nathanael Greene, and Mount Vernon
- a 2¢ stamp with Andrew Jackson, Winfield Scott, and The Hermitage
- a 3¢ stamp honoring William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Philip Sheridan
- a 5¢ stamp featuring the United States Military Academy
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.
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
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.
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 afterward 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: 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
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!
© 2011 Brian Lokker