These letters were written by William Glen “Capers” Dickson (1845-1914) who served in Co. I (“Richmond Hussars”), Cobb’s Legion (Cavalry) Battalion [later renamed 9th Georgia Cavalry]. He addressed the letter to his mother, Eveline F. (Sandefer) Dickson (1813-1876), the wife of cotton grower David Dickson (1802-1875) of Oxford, Newton county, Georgia. His brother, Eugene J. Dickson (1843-1863) served as a corporal in Co. F., 42nd Georgia Infantry and died on 18 October 1862 in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
William “Capers” Dickson was captured at Stafford County, Virginia, on 15 May 1864. He survived the war and went on to a successful career as author, lawyer, and educator. He was at one time the dean of the law department at Emory College. Over time — as memories of the Civil War faded, Dickson rose in rank to “Major” and then to “Colonel” as did many of the old veterans.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Anna C. Dickson, Oxford, Georgia
Postmarked Culpepper Court House, Virginia
[Docketed on envelope — “C. Dickson, 2nd Squadron, Cobb’s Ga. Legion]
Camp near The Rapid Ann [Rapidan river]
December 12th 1862
I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines as I may not have another one soon for we are liable to move camps at any hour in the day or night. I wrote to Mother a day or two ago in answer to the letter I received containing the sad, sad tidings of our dear brother’s death. I cannot find words to express how miserable I was when on opening it I beheld what it contained. I could hardly realize that my dear brother was indeed dead. But I can dwell on the subject no longer. It makes me miserable.
The weather is very pleasant at present though there has been snow on the ground for five or six days and it was so cold part of the time that some of the men’s whiskers froze where they breathed on them. There was heavy firing going on yesterday some miles from here, supposed to be at Fredericksburg, and the report has just come in that it was Gen. [J. E. B.] Stuart and that he had blown up the pontoon bridges there and taken three companies of Yankees. I think there is to be an awful battle fought at Fredericksburg and I pray that God may prosper our side. The Yankee force there is suppose to be about two hundred and forty thousand and our force one hundred and twenty thousand. They have the advantage in numbers but God will defend the right.
We passed by the White Sulphur Springs some weeks ago. It is a place that has been beautiful in time past but now it is a scene of ruin and desolation. The Yankees have destroyed all the largest buildings and torn everything to pieces. I must now close. Give my love to all.
Your affectionate brother, — Capers
Camp near the Rapid Ann [Rapidan] River
December 14th 1862
There is heavy firing still going on this morning. Gen. [J. E. B.] Stuart captured (day before yesterday) twenty sutler wagons, 40 government wagons, and about fifty prisoners. ¹ Three of the sutler wagons were brought into our camp last night and they are now dividing out the things among the companies.
I commenced writing about two hours ago. The things have been divided out and they are now crying them off at auction. Everything is selling from sixty to seventy-five dollars — pocket books at four and five dollars, envelopes at $1 and $2 by the pack, letter paper $2 a quire, black pepper $1.10 for a very small package, sardines $1.25 a box, and a great many other things are selling at the same high prices.
I think the Yankee sutlers had better bring their things over into our army if they want to get high prices for them. They could make their fortunes in a very short time. I bought half quire of paper and paid one dollar for it and was very glad to get it at that. I have plenty of paper — the same I brought from home — but it is too large and unhandy that I can’t carry it well. The kind I bought is a great deal smaller and I like it better on that account.
You or Mother will do me a great favor by sending me a few postage stamps as it is impossible to get them out here and I do not like to frank all my letters. Give my love to all and tell Mother I am anxious to hear from her.
Your affectionate brother, — Capers
¹ In his book, Riding in Circles, J.E.B. Stuart and the Confederate Cavalry (page 532) Arnold Pavlovsky wrote, “On December 12 , [Wade] Hampton and five hundred and twenty men raided Dumfries, which was located north of Fredericksburg. This time the rebels captured fifty blue coats and twenty-four sutler’s wagons.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
[courtesy of Keith Bohannon, University of West Georgia]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mrs. E. F. Dickson, Covington [Newton county], Georgia
March 22, 1864
My dear mother,
I am still in Fredericksburg fishing. We got reinforcements a few days ago and now have a detail of ten men from each regiment in the brigade, & a lieutenant in charge of each detachment. We have a fine time of it — nothing to do but fish, which you know I delight in. I have just so many fish as I can eat and plenty of fun.
I received a letter from you about a week ago & also one from sister Annie, both of which I answered. I have not got a letter from any of the family since then but I want you to hear from me as often as possible and therefore I write again. I will continue to write once a week if not oftener. I suppose there are letters for me at the regiment and I guess they will be forwarded soon. If I thought we would stay here any length of time, I would have my letters directed to this place.
I have a good room to stay in and a lady cooks my meals for me. The brigade left yesterday ad have gone out to reconnaissance — I don’t know exactly where. Tell Pa if Ozburn comes on the cars to send my boots by him as I need them. I am separated from the regiment and have no opportunity of drawing shoes from the government. Direct your letters as before and I will write to some person at the company to forward them to me.
I hope we will remain here all summer but I can’t tell yet how long we will stay. It depends entirely on the way we catch fish. You must write soon & write often. Love to all, your affectionate son.