1865 witnessed the Battle of the Five Forks of the Civil War take place in Virginia. The battle was fought to control the strategic South Side Railroad which at that point was a main supply route for the Confederates. The Union Army, commanded by Phillip Sheridan, soundly defeated Pickett’s Confederate force, which was outnumbered by more than two to one. This battle signaled the end to the Confederate offensive and the beginning of the Union’s Appomattox Campaign. This 1865 half dollar recalls this important Union victory that helped end the Civil War.
Although an attractive design, the Arrows and Rays Seated Half Dollar was very difficult to strike and resulted in excessive die breakage. The Mint, therefore, was faced with a quandry. On the one hand, it had to simplify the design in order to prolong working die life. On the other hand, Mint officials felt that a distinguishing mark was still needed in order to familiarize the public with the new weight standard authorized in early 1853. The decision was a compromise, with the reverse rays being dropped but the obverse arrows remaining at the date. The Arrows, No Rays Seated Half was produced in 1854 and 1855, the type including just five issues and a single overdate: 1854, 1854-O, 1855/4, 1855, 1855-O and 1855-S.