JANUARY 1864 SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE ADAM KREPS, CO. “F”, 15TH PA CAVALRY, TO HIS FATHER

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Item Code: 945-410

Dated “Chattanooga Jan 14 1864.” Addressed to his father, J.F. Kreps. 3 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5 x 8th. Exhibits fold-marks & light smudging of first page. Else VG & entirely legible. In protective sleeve.

Note: Adam Kreps served in three regiments, first mustering as private in Co. “A”, 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 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 letters to family, primarily to his father.

In this letter Adam Kreps mentions having spoken to his Lieutenant, who has not yet spoken to his captain, and with whom he will not speak again until he has a letter from his father. Presumably about his promotion to Lieutenant. He also mentions a pair of boots he needs as he is “almost barefooted.” Also a lengthy passage on Confederate deserters and refugees coming through the lines. To wit:

“There are a great number of refugees coming through our lines. (Refugees from Dixie). I cannot but pity the poor things. It is a daily occurrence to see little children with hardly enough clothes to cover their nakedness…the deserters coming into our lines are increasing instead of diminishing.

Some of them have had very narrow escapes as they have scouts and patrols out all the time hunting them. A man came in a day or so back. He had tried to desert once before but they caught him and all that are caught are shot. He was sentenced to be shot on the ninth of the month. He was handcuffed and had ball and chain on his leg. On the night of the eighth the guard took off his irons and let him run. He came in after three days and nights…”

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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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