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 11, 18642
PetersBurg Va July 11th 1864 Dear wife and children I seat my Self this morning to Rite you afew lines to let you now that I am well at this time hoping that these lines may Reach your kind hands and find you all injoy ing the same blessings I haint Recieved no letter from you since the one that you Rote in June it was dated the 16 it gave me grate Satsfaction to hear that you was as well as what you was you Rote that three are fore of you had the bowel complaint and you Rote that you had a mes of potatoes I would like to bin thare to eat with you but I could not I think that if god spares my life that I will eat with you all once more I have Rote every week sence I hav bin with the company I dont now whether you git them are not but I do hope and pray to god that you git them so you can hear from me and hear how I am gitting along I would like to git your letters so I could hear from you and my littel children and hear how you are gitting
[page 2] along I want you Rite to me whether you got your wheat cut are not I could not come if I could have come I would you now I have bin in the intrenchments about two month I haint bin Releaved In 12 days we git very Durty in the intrenchments we cant git to wash our clothes I saw Bill West he come to our company and staid there two are three hours he is well he Said that Wm Walker was well but he could not see in the night I want you to pray for me and all of the people to spear my life to git home I think that god has heard your prayers and I hope and pray to god that he will continu hearing and ancern your prayers I pray day and night that god will spear my life and yours and our littel Children grate god hear my friends prayers and ancer them may the god of heaven bless you all I heard that the Yankeys had tuck camp vance and Robed the Bank and kiled Avry F.M. Poteet to his lovin Wife Martha A.E. Poteet god bless and save you all is the prayer of your unworthy <????????>
- 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. ↩