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

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Item Code: 945-433

Dated “Morganzia La. July 29th 1864. Addressed to father, J.F. Kreps. 4 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5 X 8.” Exhibits fold-marks and light foxing & soiling along rear age fold=lines. Else VG & legible. In protective sleeve. Accompanied by documentation.

Note: Adam Kreps served in three regiments, first mustering into Co. “F”, 15th PA Cavalry, 28/22/1863, then transferring with a Lieutenant’s commission in to Co. “A”, 67thth Regt. U.S.C.T., then transferring again into Co. “E”, 92nd Regt. U.S.C.T., 7/12/1864, mustering out of service, 12/31/1865. Kreps 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 he writes to complain bitterly against the continued use of negro troops as laborers, his comments on their losses by sickness and their bravery at Port Hudson. Excerpts as follow:

“We are in the same place…with no change for the better. The government is bound that the negro shall dig the trenches. For my part I cannot see the idea of negroes who are given nothing to do but fatigue duty…We did not expect to be a set of overseers which is what we are at the present time…

They are examining the officer of the LA regiments…there is not one officer out of five in the white regiments that would pass them and at the same time it is a perfect sham for as soon as they are organized they will be nothing more than laborers and not have a bit of time for drill…

In all the colored regiments raised in Missouri there was full one thousand men. Our regiment had eleven hundred in it. They will all not now number 700 apiece (losing three to four hundred apiece in six months}…The loss has been terrible but I say that no white regiments would have stood what they have had to endure…

There was ten thousand colored troops at the taking of Port Hudson and they made one of the hardest charges of the Siege and were praised for bravery…one of the regiments had their color bearers lying dead on their colors. That regiment was the LA Colored…”

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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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