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Union Occupation Cover
Alexandria, Va./Gettysburg Campaign

postal cover

In June 1863, the US capitol was in an uproar. The Union Army of the Potomac had suffered another humiliating defeat at the hands of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia (ANVa) at Chancellorsville the month before. No one knew what Lee would do next. One of the many regiments that guarded Washington, DC, from attack was the 12th Vermont, a nine month regiment.

One of the Vermonters who wrote home in June was Corporal Joseph K. Darling of Corinth, a tiny village in Vermont. Darling thought his enlistment term had almost expired, but then the ANVa invaded Pennsylvania in late June 1863. The defenses of Washington were stripped to help stop the Confederates. The 12th Vermont was assigned to the Reynolds' 1st Army Corps, even though their enlistment had almost run out. The 1st Corps was battered badly on the first day of the three day battle (July 1, 1863), but Reynolds' men successfully held back the surging Confederates until reinforcements could come. In that fierce firefight, Major Gen. Reynolds was killed by a stray bullet. The 12th Vermont was assigned the task of guarding the supply train, in the rear of the 1st Corps. Thus, Corporal Darling apparently never came under direct enemy fire and so escaped unharmed from that bloody battle.


Joseph K. Darling resided in Corinth, Vermont, prior to the war. He enlisted on August 16, 1862, as a private in the 12th Vermont Infantry. He was mustered into Company H two months later on October 4, 1862. One month later to the day he was promoted to Corporal. He was mustered out with his regiment unharmed on July 14, 1863, ten days beyond his term of enlistment. (From Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers and Lists of Vermonters Who Served in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion, 1861- 1865. Montpelier, Vt: Press of the Watchman, 1892, vii ---courtesy Erie County Library System in Erie, PA)


Type: Union occupation cover (Alexandria, Va)/ Gettysburg campaign

Cancel: Socked-on-the-nose Alexandria, VA; June 6, 1863 handstamp

Condition: buff cover: VF; stamp (Scot #65): VF


Mrs. J. K. Darling
East Corinth, (Corinth County), Vermont

Procured: 1996 VPHS auction

Cover, background and technical details courtesy of Jim Bennetch.

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