MARCH 1864 SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE ADAM KREPS, CO. A, 67TH US COLORED TROOPS, TO HIS FATHER

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Item Code: 945-416

Dated “On Steamer Julia, March 14th, 1864.” 2 pp. in ink on unlined paper, 7.75 x 9.75. Addressed to father, J.F. Kreps. Exhibits fold-marks, w/ slightly soiled fold-lines second page. Else VG. In protective sleeve.

Note: Adam Kreps served in three regiments, first mustering as private in Co. “F”, 15th PA Cavalry, 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 letters to family, primarily to his father.

In this letter to his father, his first while serving with the 67th Regt. U.S.C.T., Adam Kreps comments on condition aboard the boat, and about black troops and rebels left in St. Louis. Excerpts as follows:

“The two regiments had about 1500 to 1600 men and just as fine and hearty set of men that  could be raised, at least they looked to be. For my part I do not think they can stand the fatigue the whites can. They give up to easily when there is something the matter with them. We had an awful of of sickness at Benton Barracks…

When we left the darkies were coming in at the rate of 50 per day. I think there are a great many rebels in St. Louis. I could see it in their countenance a we passed to the boat. There was a perfect scowl on a great many of their faces. The reason of it was that a great many of the boys had belonged to them at one time or another…”

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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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