Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, May 10, 1862


Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, May 10, 1862


Capers, writing from Cole's Island, says that they are now the sole occupants of the island and that they remain there because it is healthy with convenient quarters and that they can easily fall back to James Island if needed. He says that they are expected to hold the island against small boats but he does not agree with the general's plans since the enemy could cut off their retreat. They are working on a road across the creeks to James Island and are close to finishing it. He tells her that he has drawn a diagram to give her an idea of their position and that he has nothing with him except a change of under clothing. He writes again on Sunday morning concerning some furniture as well as a description of the Iron Clad steamer, Mississippi, that was burned in New Orleans.


A1961.1, Box 2, Folder 42


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Ellison Capers Collection









Date Valid


[Page 1]
Coles Island, May 10th ‘62
Saturday Night

My Precious Lottie

I looked for a letter from you yesterday, but none came, & this afternoon, when the mail was opened to meet a similar disappointment. I believe I told you that we were now the sole occupants of this island, the Battalion of Regulars, commanded by Maj. Lucas, and the Eutaw Battalion, Col. Simonton, having both gone to Secessionville. Genl. Pemberton says in a official communication to Genl. Ripley, that he retains us here for the following reasons: viz, because it is a healthy place, and the houses on the island furnish convenient quarters and secondly, because we are on hand here to fall back, “by way of a good

[Page 2]
road to the lines” across James Island. He further says that as the guns have been removed he does not expect us to hold the island against gun boats, but he does expect us to hold it against small boats. All this is in my view, and in the Cols, is ridiculous & without good generalship, for while the island is healthy and the houses comfortable, the “good road” that he talks about runs along the brink Stono River for 3½ miles and while we were pulling back to man the lines, the enemy’s boat could run by us, lay to and infiltrate us and cut off our retreat. It is not more than four miles from the [illegible] to the back of this island and our [illegible] not to move until the boats

[Page 3]
actually come in, so that they will be right on the mouth of the river before we start. However the Col. & I are hard at work on our road across the marsh and over the creeks to James Island. The last creek will be bridged by day after tomorrow, & the causeways have all been completed, so that by the time you get this, I will be out of the danger of being ignominiously captured.

[Drawing on original letter]

[Page 4]
The diagram on the 3rd page will give you an idea of our position and [illegible] roads. The present road, which Pemberton calls a good one, is marked and Col. and mine is marked thus XXXX. You will see that our crosses thru little creeks, each of which is navigable and could carry a gun boat, but we are stopping up their mouths with piles, indicated by the road marks. It is about 2 miles and a half from A to B. That is from our position to safety. We have sent everything to the rear except a very few things. I have sent my overcoat and packed my valise and sent it to Lady to await my order. Keeping a change of under clothing only which I expect to lose. I will send my horse off tomorrow as our bridges are only built for infantry. You must continue to write to

[Page 5 – written over page 4]
me, as before, until I direct otherwise. I wrote to Dr. [illegible] some time since & got the enclosed from him today. Did you ask mama to receive your furniture? I did not. I also send the receipt of the express company for the [illegible words]. And I trust, my dear Lottie, that both my [illegible words]. Good night, my darling, & may angels watch over your sleep. Kiss my boy for me & love to Mrs R. Ellison. Sunday Morning Before this starts my business here, I will add a few lines. You have not an idea how I am longing to see you and Frank. When you write me again tell me of your views in reference to the letter I wrote you concerning the Aiken boarding house. I have no answer to it yet, but as soon as it comes will let you know it.

[Page 6 – written on top of page 2]
Don’t mistake the paragraph of Dr. Palmer’s [illegible] which references my having offered him any furniture. I purposed, only, that he should use such articles in his house as might be serviceable to him and so doing, he would accomplish my wish to have the property cared for. I have no stamps and therefore write you without paying for my letters. Cousin Sam Capers has resigned from the Q.M.’s place and come home. He says that the Calvary men made requisitions on him for forage and he makes requisition on the Brigade Q.M. who fails to get it and then he is abused because the horses do not get enough to eat. It is funny, then, that I neglected to tell you that Naval Officers say that the iron clad steamer, Mississippi

[Page 7 – written over page 1]
which was burned on the stocks at N. O. was one of the most splendid vessels the war ever conceived. She had three propellers & sixteen boilers, & the plates of iron on her were five inches thick. She was sea worthy, & could have destroyed the whole blockade! Our best Navy Officers so say. Had they worked with Yankee energy on her night as well as day, she would have been finished a month before she was burned. Good bye, darling. God bless you, my ever precious angel. Ellie


Capers, Ellison, 1837-1908, “Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, May 10, 1862,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/479.