Troops Guarding Train
8¢ -
Violet brown or dark violet brown
Scott #289 - 1898

Used: $5-$17
No postmark with gum (MH): $25-$70
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $80-$300

289a Scotts - US Postage Stamps

8¢ - Violet brown or dark violet brown
2,900,000 - Scott #289a Imperf. horiz. - 1898
Only 25 pairs exist
Spring 2002: MH $18,000
Spring 2005 Auction: MH $12,000
Fall 2008 Auction: MH $23,000
Spring 2009 Auction: MH $19,000 MNH $31,250


Issued: Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use, a first day cover from June 17th 1898

Plate Size: Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)

289 pane US Postage Stamp
A full pane of #289

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued: 2,900,000

What you should look for


Patriotic covers were extremely popular during the civil war, as a result they were produced for the Spanish American War. They are as common as the Civil War covers.

289 Spanish-American War Patriotic Cancel
The most common cover - $50-$200

289 Patriotic Cover US Postage cover
Another example - $300

289 Patriotic Cover from the Civil War - Camp Alger, VA - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

There are many different designs, prices range from $50-$750

The Inspiration for the Design

Despite the fact that the Trans-Mississippi became known as the first attempt to showcase the first americans, it was really a showcase for the west. So the 'other' side was depicted. This being the US Cavalry. The US government had no use for the masses of commissioned Union troops after the civil war and so they were sent out to protect the white immigrants from the 'heathen's' and 'savages'. Conversly the first americans saw trespassers on their land, who at some later date, they knew would occupy it and take it away from them.

The vignette is a copy of a Frederic Remington painting titled 'Protecting a Wagon Train'. The choice of this artist is appropriate as he more than any other is associated with wild wild west as we imagine it today. Many of his works portrayed fictious stories and scenes and the painting below is no exception.

The Union recruits quickly left and it was extremely difficult to find recruits for this difficult, hazardous and sometimes fatal duty. The Plains Cavalry became the equivalent of the French Foriegn Legion, where men could dissapear, and many had arrest warrants on them. he ranks of the enlisted were filled with criminals, adventurers and many ex-confederate officers now serving as corporals and sergeants.

Due to the fact that the cavalry was stretched thin it would have been rare to have as many cavaly as you see protecting a wagon train in the stamp. A troop consisted of 98 men, of which only a large portion would be garrisoned at the fort and patrols were split between protecting wagon trains, search and destroy missions.

Wagon Train
A 1862 photograph of a wagon train showing typical coverage

A couple of things do ring true. The horses look to be in a fine condition in the painting, and the cavalry were particular about their horses (no cavalry walked with a wagon train). Also notice the faithful depiction of the Cavalry uniform, along with the .45/70 Springfield Carbines. You will notice that the soldier to the right of the horse is carrying a sabre, which were in fact, never carried on campaigns or patrols.

289 Sabre carrying soldiier Scotts - US Postage Stamps

For the first Americans part, they saw the white man as invadors and tried all means to stamp them out, it became a mean and nasty war. The US Cavalry artillery and the white mans killing of the buffalo being too much for them. The Apache nation was particularly vicious, they hoped by scalping, slowly torturing and doing all manner of horrific things on the settlers it would discourage them.

And as a last mention, two of the Cavalry regiments, the 9th and 10th (the 7th by the way were wiped out at the Battle of Little Big Horn), were comprised of African Americans commanded by white officers, these soldiers were known as 'The Buffalo Soldiers'

289 Remington Scotts - US Postage Stamps
Protecting a Wagon Train
By Frederic Remington was the inspiration for this design

'Troops Guarding the Supply Train'
By Frederic Remington, notice the repeat use of the kneeling
soldier second to the right.

289-buffalo-soldiers-US Postage Stamps

Buffalo Soldiers

289 Springfield Rifle - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The Springfield, single shot, trapdoor breech-loading .45/70 rifle, shown in the stamps design

Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #289

The Essay's and Proofs

289-E1 United States Postage Stamps

#289 E1
Large Die Essay on India
Die sunk on card
"Cheyanne Warrior'
Unadopted design

286-E5 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#289 E4
Small Die Essay
Die sunk on card
The original bi-color design.
The bi-color design had to be dropped as the bi-color printing process
was taxed to the max printing revenue stamps for the Spanish-American
war that had broken out.

289-E8 United States Postage Stamps Essay

Small Die Essay
Die sunk on card

289 P2 US Proof Stamp

289 P2
Small Die Proof

289 Indian Wars Letter

Black Hawk War, Ft. Armstrong] letter by Maj. Morrill Marston, commander of Fort Armstrong, Illinois, to Sabrina Marston in Hampton, NH, September 25, 1820.

"My situation here...was rather unpleasant last spring, in consequence of the hostility of the Winebagoe Indians. Two of my men were shot & scalped by them a short distance from the fort; they passed out of the garrison with an axe for the purpose of cutting a gun rod & probably did not discover the Indians until they were fired upon. The murderers have been delivered up by the chiefs of their nation, and are now well ironed & in close confinement at this place. The only cause they assign for their conduct is, that some of their people were killed by the whites several years since...The (Sac and Fox) Indians in the vicinity of the garrison have always been friendly. It is only the Winebagoes who reside a considerable distance from this place that I have ever had any trouble with, & these Indians at present appear to be disposed to conduct themselves in a friendly manner."

The great war chief Black Hawk had been born on the very island where Ft. Armstrong stood. It would be at the same place that he signed the treaty ending the Black Hawk War, and ceding much of his people's land to white settlers.

289 Indian Wars Letter

The contents of the above letter is an eye witness account of the aftermath of the Indian Creek massacre, attributed to Black Hawk's warriors at the time, but in fact was Potawatomi warriors acting on a personal revenge mission (details below) and led by a white man, Mike Girty. The event was so sensationalized in the news that it became the rallying call in Congress to stamp out Blackhawk. The two young ladies taken hostage were portrayed as the sexual victims of savages, when in fact they were guarded by two aged warriors and respected.

At the house of a Wm. Davis on Indian Creek on the morning of the 22nd....we witnessed one of the most shocking sights that could possibly be presented to the human senses. There were three families assembled at Davis' house for security, consisting of seventeen persons men, women and children, fifteen of whom we found laying in the house and around it, all shot, speared, tomahawked and scalped with the exception of an infant and woman who were not scalped but were much mangled, and the cruelty perpetrated upon the bodies of the slain was enough to have shocked the senses of even a savage. Two were missing supposed to be prisoners both young girls. The massacre was committed on the evening of the 21st....We buried the dead in the best possible manner....this country is completely desolate the houses and farms abandoned and most of the houses broken open...and some of them burned."

The two girls mentioned above were the Hall sisters and they were eventually recovered from their first american captivity

hall sisters - indian creek massacre
The Hall Sisters (there was no third captive as shown) - [The sisters] state, that after being compelled to witness, not only the savage butchery of their beloved parents, but to hear the heart-piercing screeches and dying groans of their expiring friends and neighbors, and the hideous yells of the furious assaulting savages, they were seized and mounted upon horses, to which they were secured by ropes, when the savages with an exulting shout, took up their line of march in Indian file, bending their course west; the horses on which the females were mounted, being each led by one of their number, while two more walked on each side with their blood-stained scalping knives and tomahawks, to support and to guard them -- After 9 days in captivity, Indian agent Henry Gratiot paid a ransom of ten horses, wampum and corn, with the Ho-Chunk acting as mediators, and the Hall sisters were returned unhurt on June 1st, with the help of Black Hawk's Sauk nation. The head of the Hall household, earlier in 1832, had publicly whipped and humiliated a Potatwatomi warrior, and on May 21st this warrior returned to settle the score.

Chief Black Hawk
Chief Black Hawk

289 Fort Armstrong

On September 21, 1832, the Black Hawk War officially came to a close with a treaty approved at Fort Armstrong, on the site of present day Rock Island, Illinois. In this treaty the remaining Sac and Fox Indians agreed to cede the lands they occupied west of the Mississippi River to the United States. Black Hawk, two of his sons, and other Sac and Fox fighters had already been taken to the fort as prisoners after their captures in the wake of the Massacre at Bad Axe. After spending the winter imprisoned at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, the men were taken east. There they met with President Andrew Jackson and became subjects of great curiosity in the white population. After a brief period of imprisonment at Fortress Monroe at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Sac and Fox fighters were returned to the Iowa territory to occupy the small reservation allotted their people by the Treaty of Fort Armstrong. Black Hawk died there in 1838.

Ogala Lakota Scotts - US Postage Stamps

On June 18,1998, the U.S. Postal Service reissued the set of nine commemorative stamps originally released in 1898. For the 1998 reissue, the Trans-Mississippi stamps were issued bi-colored as originally intended. In one other change, the vignettes in the 2-cent and 2-dollar stamps were switched. First day of issue ceremonies were held at the American Stamp Dealers Association Postage Stamp Show in Anaheim, California.