1863: Ellison Summerfield Keitt to Milledge Luke Bonham

Ellison S. Keitt

This letter was written by Ellison Summerfield Keitt (1831-1911), captain in the 29th Regiment of S.C. Troops and later the 19th South Carolina Cavalry Battalion (Keitt’s Mounted Rifles).

Keitt’s obituary states that he “raised and commanded Keitt’s Mounted Rifles, made up of men of this county. Since the war he has engaged in farming on a large scale, and has been very successful. He served two terms in the State legislature. He was a man of high character, well educated [South Carolina College, 1852], always interested in the welfare of the State. He took part in one or two national campaigns for the national Democracy, speaking in New York and other Northern States. He was a man of fine appearance and a most attractive and eloquent speaker.”

His brother was Col. Lawrence Massillon Keitt (1824-1864) of the 20th South Carolina Infantry, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor in June 1864 while commanding Kershaw’s Brigade.


Enoree Place [Spartanburg, South Carolina]
October 5, 1863

Dear Sir,

You will excuse the sheet upon which I write as I am here a few days on furlough and it is all I have, and i think the matter upon which I write of the greatest importance to a large portion of the people of the State. In my passage through Columbia, I found all articles of provision selling at enormous prices. Since my arrival here, I think I have learned possibly the true cause. No one pretends to send anything to market because the impressing officers block every avenue to the city. If action is not taken in the matter, you will soon find the people of Columbia without provisions.

There is the greatest abundance of all the cereals here but with the present condition of things, they will remain except so much as the government may seize. Too, the people will become careless about gathering if all the highways are to be blockaded. Instead of the government agents receiving one-tenth which all the planters are anxious to turn in — and more if needs be — they house themselves upon all the avenues to the cities and stop and plunder all wagons they can. Sir, if some remedy in not applied, we must expect fearful results.

I have the honor to be with high respect, your obedient servant, — Ellison S. Keitt, Capt. Commanding Mounted Rifles


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