Francis Marion Poteet of the 49th North Carolina wrote a series of nine letters during the Siege of Petersburg, all available online as part of the North Carolina State Archive’s Digital Civil War Collection1. The descriptions of each letter indicate they are in public domain status and may be reproduced elsewhere. I also asked for written permission to use the transcriptions of the letters. Poteet’s letters convey the difficult decisions facing the men in Lee’s army in 1864-65 as the end of the war drew near. Stay and fight, or desert and return home to family? It was a tough question that all of Lee’s men faced in the trenches surrounding Petersburg and Richmond.
July 5, 18642
PetersBurg Va July 5th 1864 Dear Wife and Children I Seat my Self this evning to Rite you a few lines to let you now that I am well at this time hoping that these lines may Reach your kind hands and fine you injoying the same blessing you Rote to that you would like to hear from me and now whether I was killed are not I can in form you that I am spared yet by the good will of god we have bin in the brest works about one Month we are in them yet and I dont now when we will git out soon are not tha are fighting every day we have lost killed and
[page 2] wounded in this Company 6 men 2 killed 4 wounded it Seems like god is on our Side the balls tha whistle by our eares you Rote that it Rained Somutch that you Could not git to work your corn it haint Rained to say Rain in 6 weeks hear & gardens is Runing hear it tis mighty hot hear if this fight Comes of Soon and this Company lives and dont git wounded nor killed tha are coming home you Rote to me to Come home and save the wheat I cant Come I would like to Come home and See you all once more in this life and See my Sweete littel baby I doo hope and pray to god to live to
[page 3] git home to See it it seemes like god has blessed every thing that I have prayed for and I doo hope that he will bless me to live to git home to See that littel <Babe?> when I think of hit it seems like it will kill me are Brake my hart you Rote to me that you had a mess of potatoes the Sixteenth I want you to tell mother houdy for me and tell her that I am well I have to Rite so fast that I dont now whether you can Read this litter are not I haint Slep one good night Sleepe in two month I have to work are Stand gard are picket every night I am very nigh
[page 4] broken down it Seems like god has bin with me are I could not Stoo up to hit I want you to pray for me and tell all of my friends to pray for me I pray for you and my littel Children to Spare your lives and Sustain you and thim in this life I want you to Rite as soon as this Comes to hand and Rite me all of the newse I have Seen Corn as high as I could Reach you Rote that your Corn looked very well and your sweete potatoes looked very well you dident Rite whether you had planted any tobaco are not fare well Dear wife F.M. Poteet to his loving Wife M.A.E. Poteet god bless you is my prayer
- Poteet-Dickson Letters, 1861-1902, Local Call Number P.C. 1825, MARS ID 5209. Digital Civil War Collection, North Carolina State Archives, North Carolina. Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina. ↩
- Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina. The transcription of this letter may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. All rights reserved. ↩