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.
January 18, 18652
[this letter is badly stained and damaged] PetersBurg V.A. January 18th 1865 Dear Wife and Children I Seat my self this morning to Rite you afew lines to let you now that I am well as to health but my knees and hips hurts me so bad that I dont now what to doo I dident sleepe one hour last night with them but I hope that these lines may Reach your kind hands and find you all well and dooing well [illegible] you a letter the 15 but I [illegible] it would not git [this entire line is illegible] [illegible] Rite another [illegible] [illegible] Henry Green [illegible] [illegible] home and a furlow [illegible] [illegible] you would git [illegible] I received your kind letter that was dated the 3 I was pleased to hear from you all and hear that you was all well
[page 2] I Rote to you for you to Rite to me whether tha would bee any chance for a man to Stay at home are not now I feel like that I could not stay with them mutch longer I cant be Satisfide I dremp last night that you come down hear to see me I thought that I was the gladest fellow that ever was in the world I thought that I seen my littel sweete baby I thought it was the [illegible] Child that we had I am afraid that I never will git [illegible] [illegible] still live to [illegible] [illegible] the balanse of them [illegible] [illegible] I would Rather see you now than to have A bushel of gold [illegible] I want you to pray to God to Spare my life to live to git home and See you all again
[page 3] Camp haint never come back yet I dont now what happened so this is 5 days over his time and I am afraid that if you started a box by him I am afraid Sum of the things will Spoyl before he gits hear with them but I never get a box yet but what sum of it was spoyled I hope this [illegible] it wont be so you can tell Washington Mooney that I want him to come back so if we come home so we can have [illegible] our company I [illegible] [illegible] kiss my littel [illegible] [illegible] have to close [illegible] saying Rite soon [illegible] F. M. Poteet to Martha Poteet
- 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. ↩