Jim Capers, an American Hero

Jim Capers was born into slavery on September 23, 1742, on William Capers' Bull Bay plantation in Christ Church Parish, South Carolina. On June 15, 1775, William Capers allowed Jim to enlist as a drum major in the 4th Regiment of the South Carolina Militia, commanded by Francis Marion. Although the South Carolina General Assembly never passed a law to allow the use of African American troops, many militia officers in the South Carolina Lowcountry used both free and enslaved men.

Regimental drummers like Jim Capers played important roles on the battlefield and faced the same dangers as other soldiers. They went into battle without a musket or rifle, subjecting themselves to great peril.

Capers fought in the Siege of Savannah, the Siege of Charles Town, and the battles of St. Helena, Port Royal Island, Georgetown, Camden, Biggin Church, and Eutaw Springs. At the Battle of Eutaw Springs, he received four wounds: two on his face, one on his head by a sword, and one in his side by a musket ball. Although his wounds were severe, he traveled with his regiment a month later to Yorktown, Virginia, where he was present for the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Capers was discharged as a free man on October 1, 1782, having served for more than seven years. After the war, Capers moved to Alabama, seeking new opportunities in the west. He died in Pike County, Alabama on April 1, 1853, at the age of 110.