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.
December 3, 18642
Peters Burg V.A. December 3th 1864 My Dear Wife and children I Seat my self this morning to Rite you afew lines to let you now that I am still in the land of the living yet I am well and I hope and pray to god that these few lines May Reach your kind hands and find you all Well I cant Rite without crying it seems to me that I never will git to come home again I want you to tell all of my littel children houdy for me and kiss them for me and tell them that I want to see them the worst that I ever did I hope that the Lord will spare my life to git home and see them once more in this life Albert hufstutler got shot through
[page 2] his neck the other day the last time I heard from him he was still alive I rote to you about John Wadkins got killed on the 16 Day of last month you Rote that Sidney got wounded in his elbow I am sory to hear that you Rote that Joathan Walker was in the gard house you dident Rite what it was for and you Rote that tha give Henry Dale a good beating that was good and you Rote that your Brother had to start Back I am sory to hear of that tho I hope that the lord will Bless him you Rote that you sent me a box and you Rote that you sent me as good as you could git at that time What you sent me is as good as I wanted I Did not think of making you mad Dear Wife I would not put any thing to trouble you if I can help it I just thot that Mother was abler to send me a box than you was and I Did not think any harm I Rote to her to not let my children suffer [added at top of page] that is the last sent of money that I have
[page 3] you Rote like that I tride to blitel you I never thought of any thing you Rote that she never giv them any thing I dont want you to think hard of me for it Dear Wife I now that you love me and I now that god nows that I love you and I will as long as I live you Rote that it had bin along time sence you seen me and it would not surprise me if it dident be longer than it has bin before you see me yet tho I hope it wont bee long you Rote that you was all ways one that wasant thought you Rote that god was your helper he is all of our helpers if we put our trust in him you Rote that you had not got no letter sence the 31 days of oct I have Rote one are too ever week I Dont now what is the Reason that you dont git them I send this letter by James Duncon I hope that you will git it
[page 4] I have Rote for you to send me Sumthing more to eat of you could I wanted you to send me sum beens & cabetch and one posum & apeace of pork I dont want you to send me much pork just alittel peace if you can cend me any thing you now what to send as well as I can tell you I Dont want you to think hard of me I want you to keep your lamp trimed and burning and tell Thomas and Elizabeth to keep ther lamps trimed and burning you can tell them that I still pray For them and I expect too as long as I live I Dremp last night that I saw you and I Dremp that I got wounded in the hip and in the sholder I hope and pray to god that I never will git wounded as long as I live I send George Pinkney this Bill of money you can tell him Farewell that his paw sent it to him Dear wife F.M. Poteet to M.A.E. Poteet for this time I want to kiss you very bad
- 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. ↩