Fascinating “Siege of Port Hudson” Confederate Scrip Note to be offered in Stack’s Bowers ANA Currency Auction

Collectors of both Confederate and Louisiana paper
money will be drawn to a historically significant lot in the Stack’s Bowers
Galleries Official Currency Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money in
Anaheim, California. In the Obsolete Currency section of the auction is lot
#10048, a tiny scrip note for 50 Cents dated May 24, 1863. This simple note,
printed on pink banknote paper similar to some Confederate Treasury Notes of
1862 and 1863, was issued by Major J.L. Stockdale who signed the note with a
bold, flowing signature that dominates nearly half the note. Below his
signature is printed his rank of Major and the title A.C.S. which stands for
Assistant Commissary of Subsistence.

John Lark Stockdale was born in Edgefield, South
Carolina in 1831. He later moved to Alabama where he made his home. Stockdale
originally entered service as a member of the Alabama Mountain Rangers, who
merged into the 8th Confederate cavalry. In 1862 he was commissioned a Major
and made a brigade commissary. The note bears no place of issue but through
research Major Stockdale’s location at the time of this note’s issue can be
traced to the Confederate Military post at Port Hudson, Louisiana. There he was
carrying out his duties as A.C.S. as well as putting his civilian training to
use as an assistant surgeon at the nearby Confederate hospital.

What makes this note so interesting is that the
issuing date is just two days after Port Hudson fell under a Union siege, with
attacks coming from naval ships on the Mississippi River and infantry over
ground. Failed Union charges caused the siege to last 48 days, a U.S. military
record. Confederate commander General Franklin Gardner refused to surrender his
outpost until he received word of the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi to Union
forces on July 4, 1863. Gardner finally surrendered the post on July 9. The
surrender of Port Hudson handed complete control of the Mississippi River to
the Union and essentially split the Confederacy in two making trade and
communication with the western states extremely difficult.

The Union granted parole to enlisted Confederates at
Port Hudson and sent them home. Around 400 Confederate officers, including
Major Stockdale, were taken north as prisoners of war. Stockdale was held at
Johnson’s Island, Ohio until the war’s end in 1865. After the war he returned to
his home in Talladega, Alabama where he taught and practiced medicine. He died
there in 1912.

This note was likely used in Stockdale’s commissary
store at Port Hudson by soldiers as a form of currency to buy goods and
supplies. It bears a penned serial number 40. Given the situation and
environment in which this note came to be, it is likely that few were issued
and even fewer survived. The presently offered note is the only example of this
issue we can trace.

Considering what this note endured, the condition is solid
Very Fine, with bold inks and no real damage or impairment. A penciled
inscription reading “Confederate States of America Army Money” is seen on the
back, perhaps written by a Union soldier who saved it as a souvenir. The note
carries a pre-auction estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the
ANA World’s Fair of Money is now online and open for bidding. The live paper
money session of the auction will be held on August 10 with the internet only
session taking place August 15. We are currently
accepting consignments to our November Official Auction of the Whitman Coin
& Collectibles Winter Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. If you are interested in
consigning, or have a currency related question please contact Currency
Specialist Brad Ciociola at 
[email protected] or Director of Currency Peter Treglia
[email protected].

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