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.
October 4, 18642
PetersBurg V.A. October 4th 1864 My 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 only I am very week in my legs and hips I cant git Along A walking like I once could I cant Run if it was to Save my life 50 yards but I hope and pray to god that these few lines may Reach your kind hands and find you all in good health you Rote in your letter that you and Mary wasant well that went hard with me you Rote that you had to cry about that I could not git to come home I would all most give my life to bee with you this night I hope and pray to god that this war will close before long that all of the men can come home if higgins will fetch it and this letter comes to hand I want you to send me sum cabetch potatoes and peper and sum of our homade tobacco send what you can you maby can think About what I want you to sent me sum unions again it seems like that I have had bad luck with what you send me I am Stationed all most in the edg of PetersBurg and I want you to tell Mother if She pleases to send me sum apels tell her that I would Rite to her but I haint got paper to Rite and I haint got no money that I haint Drawn no Money sence I left home you can tell her that I git About half anuff to eat that I git the of apound of Meat for a day Rashing and about 3/4 of apound of flower per day and if I live I dont expect git half that mutch before long tha Say that
[page 2] Lee Says that he cant hold Petersburg that he will have to vack awate it and make his lines [evacuate] Shorter tha have bin fighting three are fore days just on our Right I haint heard our loss but I expect that it tis heavy you Rote that tha Say that peace will be made before white frost god sent it I dont see no sign of peace hear tha are fighting every day hear on picket you Rote to me that the <C??> was dead I was sory to hear that you Rote to me about the hefor and I Rote to you to kille her <???> never anything A bout the sheepe I would like to now how your <Ruffiness?> held out for the Mare you Rote that it nearly broke your heart it hurt me when I could not git to come home I dont now how you are agoing to save your fodder but I am in hopes that god will provide sum way to save it you Rote that you thought that you would git to see me one time more I think if nothing hapines us that you will git to see me again you and talk with you I would like to talk with you you very Bad but I cant now but if we both live we will talk to gether again Dear wife you dont now how mutch I Study about you and my littel Children I would love to kiss that littel one that I haint never seen you Rote that it had taken astart to grow and it was very purty and smart god bless it and speare its life and mine to both till I can git to see it I hope and pray to god that he will Spear All of our lives to live to see one another again in this life so I will Close by saying Rite soon F. M. Poteet to M. A. E. Poteet god bless and save you Fare well Martha god Bless [added at top of page] if you send me a box I want you to bore sum holes in the sids of hit and then the things wont spoyle
- 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. ↩