Ellison Capers was born October 14, 1837 in Charleston, South Carolina. Capers graduated from South Carolina Military Academy (The Citadel) in 1857 and spent the next year as a Resident Graduate and Assistant Professor of mathematics. In 1859 he married Charlotte Rebecca Palmer and later that year was appointed Assistant Professor with a rank of Second Lieutenant.
In December of 1860 the First Regiment of Rifles was organized in Charleston and Lieutenant Capers was unanimously elected Major. This regiment served at Castle Pinckney and on Morris, Sullivan's, James and John's Islands and constituted a part of the army under General Beauregard during the attack on Fort Sumter. In January of 1862 the Rifles was reorganized into the 24th Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers and placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Capers.
For the remainder of 1862 the 24th spent time on Coles' Island, James Island, Pocotaligo, participated in the Battle of Seccesionville, and manned a battery of siege guns at Clark's house. On December 15, 1862 the regiment was ordered to North Carolina for the relief of Wilmington. On February 13, 1863 the regiment was ordered back to South Carolina.
On May 6, 1863 Capers' Regiment was transferred to Jackson, Mississippi and assigned to Gist's Brigade. Eight days later in the battle of Jackson, Lieutenant-Colonel Capers was wounded. In August of that year Gist's Brigade was sent to General Bragg and participated in the battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. At the battle of Missionary Ridge Capers was wounded again.
On July 20, 1864 Capers was promoted to Colonel of the 24th Regiment and led the regiment in the Tennessee and Atlanta campaigns. In the Battle of Franklin, In November of 1864, General Gist was killed and Capers was wounded again. At this time Capers was given a field promotion to Brigadier General and was given command of Gist's Brigade He received his official promotion on March 1, 1865.
After the war, in December 1865, Capers was elected Secretary of State for South Carolina. In 1867 he entered the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church and was rector for eight years in Greenville, SC; one year in Selma, Alabama; 11 more years in Greenville and six years at Trinity in Columbia. Capers received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of South Carolina in 1889 and from the University of the South in 1893. On May 10, 1893 Capers was elected Bishop and was consecrated in this office on July 31 of that year.
Bishop Capers was elected Chancellor of the University of the South in June of 1904. He served as Bishop and Chancellor until his death.
Bishop Capers died April 22, 1908 and is buried at Trinity Episcopal Churchyard in Columbia.
Last updated 5-31-2008