AUGUST 1865 CIVIL WAR LETTER FROM LEBANON, PA RESIDENT JACOB FORNEY KREPS TO SOLDIER SON SERVING IN 92ND REGT. USCT

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J.F. KREPS TO SON LIEUT. ADAM KREPS, CO. “E”, 92ND REGT. U.S.C.T., serving in Louisiana. Dated “West Newton” / Aug. 8th 1865.” [Includes orange cover, post-dated “West Newton, PA / Aug…”, addressed to “Lieut. Adam Kreps / 67th Regt. U.S.C.T./ Port Hudson / Aug. 8th 1865.” 2 pp. in ink on lined paper, 8 x   10” Exhibits fold-marks, else VG. In protective sleeve.

In this letter Kreps retails home news & gossip, news of son Frank, whose 77th PA Infantry is still in the field, all the while complaining of receiving no letters from Lieut. Adam. Excerpts as follow:

“I see that by a late order Gen. Sheridan has been instructed to muster out in his department. I hope the 77th will be amongst their numbers…Frank’s last letter was dated July 11 and part of the troop had embarked and they were waiting to embark, but I understand the order to go to Texas was countermanded and they are still in the old camp. Why he has not written I cannot tell…

Aug 9th…disappointed again as no letter has arrived, rec’d one form Frank, they are still in camp below New Orleans. He has the ague &and says a great many of the men are sick, hoping to hear from you soon. I subscribe myself your affectionate father, J.F. Kreps”

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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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