FEBRUARY 1865 SOLDIER LETTER - PRIVATE DAVID D. KREPS, 77TH PENNSYLVANIA INFANTRY, TO HIS BROTHER "ADD" [ADAM]

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Item Code: 945-479

Dated “Huntsville, Feb. 18th 1865. Addressed to “Brother Add.” 3 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5 x 8.” Exhibits fold-marks & light soiling of rear blank page. Else VG. In protective sleeve.

In this letter Private Kreps write about the shrinking numbers of the 77th PA and comments on the Battle of Franklin and Nashville. Excerpts as follows:

“You wanted to know how large the 77 is. She is only about 150. It is getting pretty small ain’t it. There is only about 24 men in the company. There is a good many commissioned officers resigning and going home..”

“Since I have out here I have been in two pretty hard fights. The one at Franklin the other Nashville…Lieut. Baldwin was of Company was killed he was shot through the head with a canister shot. At Franklin the rebs lost about 4500 killed. At Nashville they lost between 8 and 10 thousand in killed and wounded and prisoners. Today is just six month and one day since I enlisted. It was one the 18th day of August…I must bring my letter to a close. I am well and all the rest of the West Newton Boys.

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David D. Kreps enlisted on 8/18/64 as a private; on that date he mustered in to Co. B, 77th PA Infantry. He was discharged on 6/16/65.  Member of GAR Post # 433 (Sergeant John C. Dickey) in Greenville, PA. Kreps died on 11/7/1920 in Indianapolis, IN and is buried there in Crown Hill Cemetery.

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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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