FEBRUARY 1865 SOLDIER LETTER - PRIVATE DAVID D. KREPS, 77TH PENNSYLVANIA INFANTRY, TO HIS FATHER

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Item Code: 945-480

Dated “Huntsville Feb. 26th 1865. Addressed to father, J.F. Kreps. 3 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5 8”. Exhibits fold-marks, smudged blank rear page. Else VG. In protective sleeve.

In this letter David Dempsey Kreps writes of receiving a letter from brother Adam of the 67th U.S.C.T., comments on a new Brigade commander and tells of a court-martial for “running away” (cowardice in face of the enemy). Remarks that his brother Will with the 15th PA Cavalry had easy duty compared with his service {Battles of Franklin & Nashhville] with the 77th PA. Excerpt as follows:

“We have a new brigade commander his name is Bennet. He is colonel of the 15th Illinois regiment. It is not a permanent command. Whenever he gets in command at the Brigade he always has us out on Brigade drill or review. When ever it is nice weather he puts on to much style for me.

Jim Kyle and George Greer is going to be court=martialed when they come up to the regiment for running away from there post. They thought they saw the rebs a coming. It was after night the whole regement was out on picket. The Colonel was with us. He was examining the posts and they had left.

The colonel preferred charges against them. It will go pretty hard with them if the trial comes. Don’t tell this out of the family for I wouldn’’t want anyone to know that I wrote it home…

Will hasn’t had very hard times since he come out and I am glad of it for if he had of been with us he would of found it quite different to laying in camp…”

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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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