1937 Three-Cent Army Stamp: William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Philip Sheridan

Army and Navy Commemorative Stamp Series 1936-1937

Between December 1936 and May 1937, the U.S. Post Office issued a series of ten stamps commemorating war heroes from the Army and Navy.

The Army stamps honor 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 honor a comparable group of naval heroes.

These commemorative postage stamps provide a look back at the military history of the United States.

Facts about This Stamp

  • Date and Place Issued: February 18, 1937, in Washington, D.C.
  • Quantity issued: 87,741,150
  • Designer: Victor S. McCloskey, Jr.
  • Engravers: Frank Pauling (vignette), E. M. Weeks (lettering)
  • Scott Catalog No. 787

Three-Cent Army Stamp

The purple 3¢ Army stamp features portraits of Civil War Generals William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, and Philip Sheridan of the Union Army.

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

The corresponding three-cent purple Navy stamp, featuring Admirals David Farragut and David Porter, was issued on the same date as the three-cent Army stamp.

William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman | Source

General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891)

Sherman graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1840 and entered the Army as a second lieutenant. He saw action in Florida against the Seminoles but was assigned to administrative duties during the Mexican-American War. After spending most of the 1850s as a businessman and educator, he volunteered for military service in 1861 and was commissioned as a colonel.

For two years, Sherman served under Ulysses S. Grant in the West and gained his confidence, playing a significant role in the capture of Vicksburg in 1863. When Grant took over command of all the Union armies, he appointed Sherman to succeed him in the West. Sherman marched on Atlanta and captured and burned the city in September 1864; he then completed his famous “March to the Sea” through Georgia by capturing Savannah in December.

Sherman was widely recognized as a brilliant strategist. When Grant became President, Sherman succeeded Grant in the rank of General of the Army and was appointed Commanding General of the United States.

Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant | Source

General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)

An 1843 graduate of West Point, Grant began his army career as a quartermaster, despite a reputation for expert horsemanship that would have made him a natural cavalry officer. He fought in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, although he strongly believed that the war was unjust. Grant served in the West for a few years after the war, but resigned from the army in 1854.

When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union Army, and after early successes was promoted to the rank of major general. Grant earned a reputation as a courageous and determined leader at the bloody Battle of Shiloh in 1862. The following year, after a long and complex campaign and siege, Grant captured Vicksburg, gaining Union control of the Mississippi River and splitting the confederacy. Grant became Commanding General of the Union Army in 1864-1865 and coordinated the massive Overland Campaign that led to the defeat of the Confederacy and the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

Grant remained in command after the war and took charge of Reconstruction in the South. He was elected as the 18th President of the United States in 1868 and served two terms.

Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan | Source

General of the Army Philip Sheridan (1831-1888)

Sheridan served in the infantry in the Pacific Northwest following his graduation from West Point in 1853. After the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861, he was promoted to captain. First assigned as a staff officer, Sheridan was appointed colonel in the cavalry in May 1862. He distinguished himself and within six months was promoted to major general.

Sheridan continued to build a reputation for courage and aggressive battle throughout 1863, and in the spring of 1864 Grant placed him in charge of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan’s troops had mixed success in the Overland Campaign, but he was given command of the Army of the Shenandoah in August 1864 and neutralized the Confederate Army in the area with scorched earth tactics that became known as “The Burning.” Sheridan’s actions in the Shenandoah Valley culminated at Cedar Creek, where he rode for ten miles to rally his troops against a surprise attack that had occurred while he was away. “Sherman’s Ride” was celebrated in a famous poem by Thomas Buchanan Read, which was used successfully in President Lincoln’s reelection campaign. Sherman capped his Civil War service with a determined pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s army, leading to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

During Reconstruction, Sheridan served as military governor of Texas and Louisiana. Assigned to pacify the Great Plains during the Indian Wars, Sheridan employed scorched earth tactics similar to those he had used in the Shenandoah Valley — including allowing professional hunters to slaughter the bison, the Indians’ primary source of food. On the positive side of the environmental ledger, Sheridan successfully crusaded for protection of the Yellowstone area against the railroads and developers, even sending in the cavalry to control the park.

In 1883, Sheridan succeeded Sherman as Commanding General of the U.S. Army, and in 1888, shortly before his death, he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army of the United States.

Learn History by Collecting Stamps

You now know a little of the history represented by the three-cent Army stamp of 1937.

Starting a stamp collection is a great way to learn history, for both adults and children. There are hundreds of collectible U.S. commemorative postage stamps, and thousands of fascinating stamps from around the world.

Most of these stamps are available to collectors at low prices. If you give stamp collecting a try, you're sure to enjoy it!

© 2011 Brian Lokker

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