Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie. January 26, 1862


Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie. January 26, 1862


Capers writes to Lottie about a sermon that was given in camp by a Mr. Wightman. He uses a quote from Cicero to describe how Wightman won over his audience. Mr. Wightman warned the men of the dangers of camp life including profanity and drinking. Capers also questions stabling his horse with an acquaintance when he goes to the city. Note: this letter has a page missing.


A1961.1, Box 2, Folder 16


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Ellison Capers Collection









Date Valid


[Page 1]
Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26, ‘62

Well, Lottie, darling, the beautiful Sabbath is nearly over and I sit down at ¼ to 4 P.M. to give you the promised history of the 1st sermon in camp. Mr. Wightman came up & preached an excellent sermon for us from Solomon’s advice to young men; “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”. The men listened very attentively and in his introductory remarks he brought tears to many eyes. Cicero somewhere says, that a public speaker, to be effective, must render his audience attentos dociles & benevolos; that is they must be attentive, and to make them so, he must render them benevolent, docile, well disposed towards him. This is good advice and Mr. Wightman followed it today. He was a stranger & knew that his audience felt no especial interest in him, so he rendered them “dociles” by the following course of ingenious remarks: “I am a stranger to you, said he, you are not to me, for my religion and calling make me love you & call you brothers. I come to talk

[Page 2]
to you of the absent father, mother, wife! To remind you of the little boy that clambered up to your knees & pressed your cheek with a gentle kiss. I bid you, for their sakes, to be men,- true soldiers & to call you for Jesus sake to worship at the foot stool of God. The allusion to home was too much for many stout hearts & at once the tears of love showed that the minister had touched the tender cords, and had made his audience well acquainted with him & then he told them of the heart of the fact that religion was of the heart, was inward, not outward. The [illegible] doctrine of conversion, of a change of heart, was beautifully set forth and the men were warned of the dangers of camp life - gambling, drinking, profanity and a want of chastity, and urged to place the sentinels of prayer & faith over the heart, that it might be kept safe & provided against the great issues before it. I omitted to mention that Mr. W. related an interesting fact connected with the Psalm which he read as the 1st lesson. When the Revolutionary Congress assembled in Philadelphia in 1775 a Reverend Episcopal Minister was invited to open the Congress with religious services & he read the Psalm which is said to have had no small influence on the minds of the determined patriots of that- (sheet missing)

[Page 3 – written over page 2]
affair. She has never been the same to you, though she always, when your name is mentioned, approvingly joins in. She did, by the by say at breakfast that she offered me “some of Sister Lottie’s Sausages”. I will, Lottie, have less & less respect for the poor creature every time I am with her. What do you think of the propriety of my putting my horse up at Uncle [illegible] when I go to the city? I have never been invited to do so, but the old gentleman has given me several very warm invitations to find a resting place at his house. It costs me so much to put him up at the public stables.

I got a letter from Richie tonight. He says that [illegible] had reported; looked well, & had gone with the Col. on an expedition to Edisto Isld. A dispatch from Genl. Evans to Genl. Ripley, today, announces their return & their success, having caught upwards of 75 negroes, 25 of whom have recently been firing upon our pickets and will, probably, be hanged. I send you a beautiful piece of poetry, dedicated, to Maryland, which

[Page 4 – written over page 1]
I cut from the morning’s Courier. I invited Mr. Wightman to preach for my command tomorrow & he will do so at 11 ¼ A.M. I will give you tomorrow night D. V. an account of the Sermon. Let me close this, my darling, with an incident of the day - A young man, private, of fine face made an application for a furlough to go home & visit his wife, who expects to be confined about the last of this month or the first of next. He wanted to go right away, so as to be sure of being with her. How true to my very heart thought I. But this could not be granted. He said his wife was very ill last time, & he was exceedingly anxious about her. She was alone & leaned only on him. It was all true; I saw it in his full eye, & quivering lip, & my own soul felt for him. Well sir, you shall go on Wednesday, to be gone two weeks. “Col., I want four weeks, for my wife has no one to mind her but me & if she was sick very much, I would not leave her no matter what I had to suffer when I came back”. Little did the poor fellow think how his Col. struggled to keep back a tear for he thought of his wife & maybe he would have just such a trial to undergo. He was dismissed with the leave of two

[Page 5 – written on the side of pages 1 and 4] weeks, & the remark that his case was one of the many evils & pains which war entails. Good night, my good, my beautiful angel & my Heaven, bless you & Frank.


Capers, Ellison, 1837-1908, “Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie. January 26, 1862,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/484.