Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, February 26, 1863


Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, February 26, 1863


Capers writes to Lottie about choosing which of her letters to save and writes how upset he is to destroy even one. He then relates an account of a truce between the Confederate and Yankee soldiers so that letters could be exchanged.


A1961.1, Box 3, Folder 5


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Ellison Capers Collection









Date Valid


[Page 1]
In camp Thursday morning
Feb. 26th 1863

My own darling wife

I have just finished a supervision of the company drills. It is quite warm, & almost a summer’s sun. I was looking over some of your recent letters just now to select such as I thought proper to preserve, & I found it almost impossible to select. Every one had some particular feature which made it dear, and I selected all but one. I can not bear the idea of destroying one of your letters, in which you tell me of little Frank or Sue, or how earnestly you love me. I send you in this [illegible] receipt, & a copy of the bill of your Nassau things. Yesterday was quite an interesting day with me. Lieut. Beauregard had ordered a flag of truce to be sent to the enemy, with letters to some of our men held as prisoners, & letters from Yankee officers, held by us, to their families. The Col. & I had asked permission to ride down toward Port Royal Ferry, so that Lieut. Walker availed himself of our going to send the flag by us. We were first met by a sentinel to whom we communicated our errand, following across the ferry, and after an hour’s waiting Lieut. Col. Sleeper, 4th New Hampshire Vol. with his adjt. made his appearance, & shortly after, Mrs. Sleeper walked down the end of the causeway, escorted by a Yankee Lieut. After two hours waiting, Sleeper got a boat to us, (we had none) a miserable, old leaky thing, paddled by two Yankees of the 4th N.H.V. They bailed out the greater part of the water, & we got in & went over.

[Page 2 – written on top of page 1]
My end of the boat touched the wharf first, & I stepped in to it. Then when Col. Sleeper walked up to me, pulled off his gauntlet & offered me his hand, I thought of his being an enemy, with threats of destruction to my family in his business, & I refused to take his hand, to which he replied, “Ah! You won’t take the hand, Eh? Very well then!” I answered in a polite, but firm tone, “No, Sir.” We then delivered our communications, took his receipt & left. He asked me if we had any news, to which I replied: “No Sir, nothing of special interest.” Mrs. Sleeper sat down about two steps off & held her parasol over her with as much grace as if she properly belonged there. The men who paddled us over were very respectful, & quite communicative. They cursed the war, & their officers, & said they were heartily sick of it. They said Mrs. Sleeper had been on for three weeks. The whole party were regular Easterners. On our way back I found the jasmines in bloom, & in one place the [illegible] trees looking lovely. There are some most lovely flowers in this section. But, alas!, most of them have been desecrated, & are exposed to the ruin of the enemy. You & I, Lottie, have felt but the pain of the heat, which our uncertainty absences impairs, but we have not been called on to witness the flowers & fruits of a life time, [illegible] & ruined by war! We have yet to make our home, and the same blessed Providence which has sustained & blessed us in the past, will bless & keep us in the future. My faith is in God.


Capers, Ellison, 1837-1908, “Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, February 26, 1863,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/485.