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

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Item Code: 945-515

FROM J.F. KREPS TO SON LIEUT. ADAM KREPS, CO. “E”, 92ND REGT. U.S.C.T., serving in Louisiana. Dated “Rostraver Township / November 17th 1865.” 4 pp. in ink on unlined paper, 8 x 9.75”. Exhibits fold-marks, else VG. In protective sleeve. Accompanied by documentation.

In this letter father Kreps writes mainly of local gossip but has much to say about the state of affairs in the conquered south. As follows:

“It was stated in the paper that Gen. Canby had orders to muster out all the colored troops that he could spare. If he has any to spare it may be that your regiment will be one of them, but I have serious doubts  about the propriety of withdrawing the Union troops from the rebel states for I think they are as imperious and arrogant as ever and are now in rebellion against the authority of the government for the same indications exist now that existed before the rebellion. They still hold and vindicate the doctrine of states rights, the very thing that brought about the late rebellion, and I very much fear that unless more stringent measures are adopted we will have great difficulty and trouble in the not distant future.

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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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