DECEMBER 1863 SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE ADAM KREPS, CO. “F”, 15TH PA CAVALRY, TO HIS COUSIN

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Item Code: 945-409

Dated “Chattanooga December 27th, 1863.” Addressed to “Dear Cousin.” 4 pp. in ink on unlined paper, 5 x 8.” Exhibits fold-marks and some smudging of rear page. Else VG and entirely legible. In protective sleeve.

Note: Adam Kreps served in three regiments, first mustering as private in Co. “F”, 15th PA Cavalry, 8/22/1862, then transferring with Lieutenant’s commission into Co. “A”, 67th Regt. U.S.C.T., 2/24/1864, then transferring again into Co. “E”, 92nd Regt. U.S.C.T., 7/12/1865, mustering out of service, 12/31/1865. He served exclusively in the western theater and with the U.S.C.T. regiments mostly in Louisiana. His correspondence consists of letter to family, primarily to his father.

In this letter Kreps writes about guarding a spy, makes disparaging insinuations concerning home-front shirkers who ought to be in the army. And about a victory over a regiment of Rebel Indians. Excerpts as follow:

“I am now in the officer of the provost Marshall…and each orderly has to take his turn guarding a man who is supposed to be a spy…He came into our lines and says he is a spy sent out by General Banks to go all through the Confederacy and see all he could and report to him…but the officials want to see if it is true…He says well and good if not he is pretty sure to stretch hemp…

I suppose you seen the letter from me stating that our regiment had gone to Knoxville. I heard from them that had a fight near Seversville, Tenn. With a regiment of rebel Indians. They whipped the Indians and took their equipment and horses. Captain Butts commanding was wounded in the leg. The only other man wounded in the regiment was Sergeant White…”

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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]  [ph:L]

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