DECEMBER 1864 CIVIL WAR LETTER FROM LEBANON, PA RESIDENT JACOB FORNEY KREPS TO SOLDIER SON SERVING IN 67TH REGT. USCT

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Item Code: 945-504

FROM J.F. KREBS TO SON LIEUT. ADAM KREPS, CO. “A”, 67TH REGT. U.S.C.T., serving in Louisiana. Dated “West Newton, Dec. 13, 1864.” 2 pp. in ink on unlined paper, 8 x 9.75”. Exhibits fold=marks. Rear page fold-marks soiled and somewhat fragile. Else VG & entirely legible. In protective sleeve. Accompanied by documentation.

In this letter father Kreps relays news concerning younger sons David Dempsey and William Augustus, and Confederate prisoner Frank Kreps. Excerpts as follows:

“Since the Battle at Franklin we received a letter from Dempsey. He escaped unhurt but have not yet have word from Willy and do not know whether the 15th was in the fight or not. The last letter we had from Willy was from Chattanooga. The latest from Francis Oct. 6 dated at Charleston, but he said he was to be sent to Columbia the next day…

You four boys being in the Army and all so widely separated (and one in prison) causes us great anxiety about you all. Our family has got so small that we feel quite lonesome at family prayer and around our table…

It is now a month since Gen. Sherman started on his expedition, I hop he will accomplish great things…I have confidence in Gen. Thomas and trust that he will be so reinforced to annihilate Hood…”

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Born in 1806 in Lebanon, PA, J.F. Kreps established himself in Greencastle as an enterprising farmer and businessman, moving to West Newton/ Rostraver Township. An ardent Union patriot, Kreps raised troops and money, and served as a civilian Pennsylvania regimental commissioner, spending two months in that capacity visiting PA regiments serving with Gen. Rosecrans’ army at Stones River, TN, in late spring/early summer 1863; also visiting PA Army of the Potomac units in 1864.

He also contributed five sons to the Union army—John, Francis, Adam, William and David Dempsey (with John, Francis and Adam serving as officers), in five different regiments, all of whom would survive, though son John would be severely wounded at Liberty Gap, TN, and son Frank, captured at Chickamauga, would spend 14 months in various Confederate prisons before making an heroic and hair-raising escape from Columbia, S.C., in 1864.

The bulk of the letters in this first family grouping (27 letters dating from August 7, 1861 to July 1864) are from J.F. Kreps to son Adam (15th PA Cavalry, 67th Regt. U.S.C.T., 92nd Regt. U.S.C.T. Also letters to son Frank (77th PA Infy) and son George, and six to wife Eliza, most of which were written during J.F. Kreps tour of General Rosecrans’ army. Subsequent groups contain letters home from sons Adam, William, John and David Dempsey. Taken as a whole, the Kreps letters present a valuable and fascinating picture of the coming and goings of an American family at war.   [JP]

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