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Commodore Decature Epps

Commodore Decature Epps was born in North Carolina in 1835. We know nothing of his childhood but in 1859, he married Catherine Selina Lentz, who was a widow. She came into the marriage with four children William (Pleasant), Henry Jacob, James Wyley and Alfred Burton Jr. The union of Commodore and Catherine produced twin daughters Lillie and Lola.

Commodore's story is different from the others in this collection because the only information we have comes from the letters that Commodore wrote to his wife while serving in the Civil War. He enlisted in the Army in June of 1862 and was given the rank of private and assigned to Company F of the 6th Georgia Calvary. While he was serving in the military, his wife lived in Murray County with her father, who owned a store in the section of the county known as Bull Pen.

Mr. Epps's letters all began the same way, "I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at this time." His letters gave Catherine advice on how to manage the affairs of the farm and instructed the boys on what to plant and who to hire when specific items needed to be repaired on the farm. It is unusual to note that he never in the course of the fifteen letters mentioned the twin daughters he left behind. The girls were only toddlers when Commodore left to fight. However, he often writes to his stepsons, calling them by name and asking them to do specific tasks for his wife. One thing in particular was to be good boys and mind their mother.

Commodore's letters were sent from three different military camps: Camp Smith, Tunnel Hill, Georgia; Loudon, Tennessee; and Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. His letters would sometimes ask for specific items. In his first letter dated August, 1862, he asked for his wife to send a substitute for him. This would entail paying someone a fee to come into the army and serve his time. He wanted to participate in a unit that rode horses instead of being in a foot company. Commodore asked Catherine to try and find someone to serve in his place. He ends the letter asking her to send a lock of her hair.

Other letters ask for basic items including his boots, a pair of pants, a comb and a hand towel. All the while, Commodore instructs Catherine on how to collect debts from those who owe him money and also trusts enough at times to send her money with his letters. In one letter, dated August 1862, he sends her twenty dollars and asked her to make him some clothes for cold weather. He closed every letter with the same phrase, "I remain truly yours till death, Commodore Epps."

Commodore saw action in two different battles. They were at the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky that occurred on the 8th of October, 1862. Also present at the conflict was young Thomas Polk Edmondson. Between the two battles, Commodore speaks of going AWOL in a letter dated July, 1863. There were ten to fifteen men who had left the regiment even though the regiment itself contained only seventy-five men. Commodore was the first one of those who had left without permission that came back.

The second battle where Commodore saw conflict was the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia which lasted three days from September 18th through the 20th in 1863. He was wounded in the battle on the second day of action. In his final letter to his beloved Catherine dated November 13, 1863, he is a patient at Polk Hospital in Rome. This is where he was sent after being wounded. He gives her specific instructions on coming to get him. She is to bring a wagon with one good straw bed and one feather bed and two pillows. It has been told that Catherine and her oldest son, William Pleasant went after Commodore and brought him home to Spring Place. He died at home on December 20th from his wounds. He is buried on the farm that belonged to his wife's family in the Bull Pen area.

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