How Effective Were The Union Counterfeit Operations Against The South?

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I've often heard or read the same thing but really I don't see much activity in the counterfeiting of Southern Currency. It was an interesting idea but I don't think it was too widespread other than a guy named Upham from Philadelphia selling souvenir notes out of his candy store. I've seen an article about how these notes could be used to purchase cotton in the South, but were they really?
 
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Joined
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South Texas
There must have been some counterfeiting going on since the Confederate Congress did (I think) impose the death sentence on convicted counterfeiters. This guy Upham later boasted that the Confederacy put a $10,000 reward on him..dead or alive. But this was probably just bragging on his part.But Senator Foote is on record as saying that Upham's fake notes "had done more to injure the Confederate cause than General McClellan and his army."
 

ucvrelics

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The north flooded the CS with counterfeit money. The CS treasury had to in act several changes in CS paper money to try and combat it. Original CS counterfeit is highly collectable, so much so there are collector books on the subject.
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I read that some in the Lincoln Administration didn't like the idea of copying Confederate currency. They were worried the South might retaliate and print up some "Northern Greenbacks". But Upham or any other individual were within their legal rights because the Lincoln Administration did not recognize the Confederate States of America.
 
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covers

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PS to previous, in December 1863 a paper $1 was worth 66c in silver. As the US postal contract with Great Britain required settlements to be calculated in silver, the different values caused by depreciated currency caused real problems.

I have an exhibit entitled “Paying the Postage” which examines many of those issues. See page of links here

An 1862 page shows a cover with 66c coin rate could be paid with the new $1 note shown in previous.
 
Joined
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Almost every article about the printing up of bogus bills mentions cotton smugglers possibly using these bills for their trade and to flood the Confederate economy. But from what few articles I've read on cotton smuggling it never mentions these bills. Contraband cotton was usually paid for in specie wasn't it?
Also Samuel Upham was investigated by administration officials because he was alleged to be printing up Northern currency in addition to over a million Confederate notes. Secretary of War Stanton personally intervened and had the case dismissed. Some historians allege that Stanton was the source of genuine banknote paper. If true, it did show that he put forth some effort to destabalize the economy. But this is more of a conspiracy theory than historic fact.
 

covers

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The March 16, 1862 Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch notice of SC Upham (which is the earliest I find quickly for currency is shown below). It is typical - he was a snake-oil salesman primarily. Pimple remover, etc. His numerous stamp productions are well documented on my website.

Please show me something that would support a theory that he was making anything that could be construed as a genuine U.S. paper scrip of currency.

Sunday_Dispatch_1862-03-16_2.jpg
 

Rhea Cole

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I am not so sure that there was any real necessity for printing counterfeit Confederate bills. Local merchant John Spence in Murfreesboro TN kept a journal during the war. In November 1862, Bragg ordered what was left of the Army of Tennessee after the retreat from Kentucky to concentrate in Middle Tennessee. Bragg's HQ was in Murfreesboro, only thirty two miles from Rosecrans' HQ in Nashville.

November 1st, 1862
Confederate Soldiers Make Their Appearance

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The Courthouse Square, Murfreesboro TN where John Spence had his store.

By November 1, 1862, the confederate soldiers are making their appearance, in small forces from different points. A regiment or two, said from North Carolina, have the appearance of being healthy, stout men.

Also, a portion of Bragg's forces from their return trip from Kentucky. Every train from the South brings quite a number in -- are setting up their tenets round the suburbs of town.

A brisk business is now commenced, collecting army stores -- such as Bacon, Flour, wheat, & corn. This shipped south for safety.

Things are moving on in a quiet & easy manner, considering the war times. No one is molested in doing business of any sort.


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The soldiers, when they made purchase of any article, were disposed to pay & were liberal undoing so. They had quteia variety of more amongst them. Very little of it was of much value but appeared to answer the purpose with them. Some of the money had not much better look than a picture out of a newspaper & then all kind of promises to pay some way.

John C. Spence, page 55, A Diary of the Civil War, Rutherford County Historical Society, Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1993
 
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hoosier

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The first Greenback did not appear until August 1862. Money and currency in US included an ever decreasing supply of silver as bad money, such as scrip, fractional currency, tokens, etc drove away good money (silver and gold). It is a fascinating subject.

View attachment 381631
Interesting to note that Salmon P. Chase, who as Secretary of the Treasury was given the responsibility for designing the new one dollar bill, cheerfully adorned it with his own picture.
 
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