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(CIVIL WAR--CONFEDERATE--DIPLOMACY.) De Voss, P.J. Letter describing the fall and occupation of Petersburg for the French consul. Pair of Autograph Letters Signed to Alfred Paul, consul of France in Richmond, VA. Each one page, 12 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches, with integral stamped address panels; folds, minimal wear. Petersburg, VA, 7 and 20 April 1865
P.J. de Voss (born 1817) was a German-born merchant in Petersburg who was tasked with protecting the French-owned tobacco warehouses in town. These two letters report on his work--and incidentally offer interesting details on the dramatic events of early April when the city was burned and abandoned by Confederate troops. The first letter reports that "our city was evacuated by the Confed'te army on the night of the 2nd inst., and the Army of the Potomac entered it 1/2 past five a.m. on the 3rd. All the warehouses containing tobacco belonging to private individuals were destroyed by fire, totally, on Sunday at 10 o'clock, by order of the Confederate government. The tobacco belonging to the French government was not destroyed. Early on Sunday morning I hoisted the French flag." Upon the arrival of Union troops, de Voss requested military guards for the French warehouses, "which were cheerfully granted . . . the Army of the Potomac treats citizens with much leniency." The letter was sent with a United States stamp to Richmond, which had also been occupied on 2 April, but is not postmarked. The second letter advises that de Voss is "required to hand in to the authorities the number of hogsheads of tobacco stored here and belonging to the government which you represent." This letter was also sent to Paul in Richmond, and then forwarded to the "Consulat General de France, New-Yorck"; it was stamped twice and postmarked 4 times on its journey.