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LT: December 31, 1864 Francis Marion Poteet

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 31, 18642

Peters Burg V.A. December 31 1864 Dear wife and children I Seat my Self this morning to write you afew lines to let you now that I am well hoping that these lines may Reach your kind hands & find you all well I hope and trust to the Lord that I may live to see you all again it seems like that will bee along time yet if I live I hope it wont I have agrate desire to see you all Once more in this life I think that I could stay with you the balans of my

[page 2] Days I haint Received no letter from you in all most three weeks I would like to hear from you if I cant git to see you I want you to still pray for me and all the balans of the soldiers and tell all of my friends to pray for me and to pray to god to spare my life to live to git home to raise my littel Children I have agrait desire to see you all one more I have heard Sum of the Soldiers Say that the pople thot tha Saw hards times at home but

[page 3] that tha dident not now what hard times was thare I dont now how times is thare times is as hard thare as tha are hear I dont now how you all stand thare we only git five littel Crackers for one day Rations we dont git no meat now but about twist aweek if that aint hard times I dont now what hard times is the mud is shoes mouth deep hear now and it tis A snowing now as hard as it can Rip my Shoes very bad but I dont now how long it will bee till I git apare I want you to Rite me all the newse and I want you to tell Mooney to come badly

[page 4] and stay till the war ends are stay till the crowd comes home tha all Say that tha Hear say that tha are agoing to give us adiner the 2 day of next year I dont now I cant <rite?> tha <doo?> keepe so mutch <fuss?> O lord look down on me and spare my life to live to git home and have mursy on my famly and save them from all harm and Spare there lives to live to Give I want you to send me sumth- ing to eat by Mooney are Camp I Sent all of the letters that I had but the too last ones that you sent dont forgit to pray for me F. M. Poteet to M. A. E. Poteet


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
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