Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, September 7, 1864


Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, September 7, 1864


Capers describes the siege and aftermath of the fall of Atlanta in detail. At the end of the letter, he asks Lottie about her health and tells her that she needs to take care of herself. He also tells her that God will watch over her and that they should live for the future.


A1961.1, Box 3, Folder 28


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Ellison Capers Collection









Date Valid


[Page 1]
Bivouac near Jonesboro
Macon R.R.
Sept. 7th 64

My precious wife

On yesterday morning our skirmishers advanced from our front near Lovejoy and found the enemy withdrawn. Our Division was immediately put in march on a reconnaissance & came up to the enemy’s rear guard at Jonesboro. The information given us by the citizens, & the indications, generally, seem to indicate that Sherman has determined to rest and recruit his army to East Point & Atlanta. We are all very much surprised at this retrograde of our powerful & victorious foe. There can be but one real reason for it: that deeming the capture of the objective point

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(Atlanta) of his splendid campaign, a decisive result, & the capture of Richmond only now necessary to complete the military success of the north, Sherman has retired to the former city that he may reinforce the northern army now investing the latter. This being so, our campaign is over, & we, too, must reinforce our noble Army at Richmond. But Sherman is a strategist, & may now be making a great [illegible] move on Macon, though every indication points to the retirement of his army to Atlanta. You & I, my own cherished wife, are brought under renewed obligations, to Almighty God

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for His protection of me on the 31st [illegible] & the 1st Inst. I was particularly exposed to a rain of death on the first, as I wrote you, & yet while my major fell near me, & my men yielded their lives, it pleased God to spare me! Praised be His blessed name & Providence. My Regt. distinguished itself on the first by gallantly obeying my call to retake the portion of our immediate line lost, & capturing & killing our foes in our very works. Our superiors have all spoken well of us. Hardee was attacked on the first by a superior force, & repelled him everywhere, but along the front of two Brigades:

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Govan’s, of Cleburn’s Division, & Lewis’ Kentucky Brigade of Bates Division. The latter Brigade was immediately to our left, & when it gave way, caused the giving way of the Battalion of our Brigade on the extreme left of our Brigade & the left of my Regt. which came next. But I soon rallied my noble men, & assisted by Holmes & Smith (B.B.) & my officers, I retook my lost ground, & the line of the Battalion on my left, who then came up & reoccupied their works. But the enemy had accomplished his purpose. Failing, as we did, (Hardee & Lee) to drive him from the R.R. on the 31st of August, he occupied it

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in large force & strongly fortified his position on the night of the 31st & the morning of the 1st, and the afternoon of the latter day, Lee’s Corps having gone back towards Atlanta, he attacked us (Hardee). It would not have altered the results, however, if Govan & Lewis had done as all the other Brigades did, viz. repelled the enemy. For he was already across the R.R. and we had already failed on the 31st to dislodge him. I do not see why we were attacked on the afternoon of the first! The day before the fate of Atlanta was decided in our failure to drive the enemy from his strong works, & we were only

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holding on at Jonesboro to give Hood time to get away. Lee marched back to assist him if he should be attacked. I suppose that the enemy knowing that Lee had gone toward Atlanta, and thinking that he could route our single corps, determined to assault us. He failed in this. It was after sunset when Govan & Lewis gave way, & the success thus gained could not be improved. These two Brigades were soon rallied (we lost eight guns and about 20 [illegible] prisoners on this line) & formed just in rear these lost works, while at all other points our corps held its line. We remained in this position till midnight

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when we withdrew, & took up the Lovejoy line: Hood joining us on the morning of the 3rd, having marched out by way of McDonough. Our men take the fall of Atlanta more philosophically than I expected, though it is a great blow to the army. Sherman began to make his grand move on the Macon Road, on the night of the 25th of August, & it was the 30th, before Hood [illegible] his intentions. The fatal result was that the large force sent for the purpose actually fortified their position near Jonesboro (a position most admirably selected ) before our two corps (Hardee’s and Lee’s) got up to Jonesboro ready to attack them! Instead of

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assaulting this force in open ground, or on their march to Jonesboro, our troops were led against fortifications which they had been educated to believe could not be carried by quadruple lines of battle, & they all knew we had but a single line. This army has opposed a superior force (whose numbers were properly estimated only by Johnston) by interposing just such works as we were called on to carry on the 31st. The enemy was perfectly aware of all of this, & seemed elated at the prospect of our storming his position. Sherman had won his point. He got to Jonesboro & fortified, and now to be at-

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Tacked, in his works, was just what he wanted. As our troops approached to the assault, his men mounted the breast works & waved their hats to us to come on! Oh many a noble fellow went to certain death. So much for the fall of Atlanta.

My darling wife, I read your long letter over & over again. I am very uneasy about the condition of your health. Anything you can do to relieve your bowels, my own dear Lottie, must be done. By all means, my darling wife, ask Aunt V. for the light bread, or anything that you need, which your Aunt has. Guard a disposition of mind

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to be morbid [illegible words] most carefully. Nothing makes us more unhappy. I know of no one, except my own angel mother, who always endeavors to act as conscientiously as you do. Let your constant satisfaction be found in an approving conscience, my darling. Your own dear heart assures you of your sincerity when you complain; let it be of breeze on bread; of nerves on stomach. Your Ellie knows that you suffer, my angel, & would take your ills, every one of them, if he could. He humbly presents his Lottie to the throne of Grace, & with all the faith & favours of his heart, asks the blessings

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of Heaven to be given his Lottie. Keep a stout heart, my own wife, and a cheerful spirit. This you can not do, but in the strength of Grace. Ask it of Him, who covered my defenseless head in Battle and He will grant it, darling. Let this thought be ever before you - the future! Let us live for the future of this life, as well as for the great future. We can’t remedy our condition, except by my resigning my position in the army. This I can not do while my health continues firm.

I trust, oh how I trust, that the time is not far distant when God will give us peace & rest. Let us, my precious wife, do our duty

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as true Christians [illegible words], & all will be well with us. I sent you on yesterday a letter by Hill, containing $150. I send this to be mailed in the So. Ga. R.R. by Farley, who has been ordered to work in Government shops, & detached from my Regt. I learn we have a large mail in Macon. You must buy what liquor you need, my Lottie, & take it as you need it. We have none now, darling. I hope our little ones are better. Don’t be uneasy about [illegible] (dear angel!) May’s sleeping. Pa used to say, it was always best for young babies to sleep. Don’t worry & try your back, Lottie, my precious wife, by fatiguing yourself with May. Let

[Side of page 12]
Lize hold her sometimes. It will be a relief to you, and a great pleasure to them. Don’t be over careful of her. I am delighted to hear of

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your becoming [illegible]! How delightful it will be, my Lottie dear, to be caressed by you! It is as natural as breathing that you should cling to me [illegible] & may more [illegible]

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than ever. I am away & in danger & you hold your darlings to your heart only the more fondly. Kiss them for Pa. May God keep & bless you all, for your own dear



Capers, Ellison, 1837-1908, “Letter from Ellison Capers to his wife Lottie, September 7, 1864,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/501.