Minutemen Private Nimrod Newton Nash wrote his wife Mollie from the 13th’s Camp of Instruction in Tennessee:
Camp Union City May 26, 1861
I am now far away from you my darling. We were ordered to leave Corinth yesterday morning at nine AM, and after a great deal of excitement got one thousand in number on one train. Arrived at Jackson [TN] about 8 PM where we spent the night [—] every man for themselves.
Col. Barksdale was cautious enough to stay there and not run at night for fear of being thrown off of the track or for fear some of the bridges were out. We left Jackson this morning and arrived here about one. I have finished my dinner.
This is the prettiest country I ever saw. I am surprised at the quantity of cotton raised here. The land is the richest in the world. I think it is verry…and covered oer with the largest kind of swamp growth.
There is lots of union men here. We have been here about two hours and have advise[d] one man to have bought all his chickens. The officers have taken possession of his school house for their individual comfort. There are other men in the country that will not find this a very healthy climate if found out.
The people in this part of Tennessee were not making any preparation for self [defense] hardly. They are the gladest people you ever saw as they will be better protected. Sam Young came up here day before yesterd to select a place for a camp and says that a great many who were neutral before are now strong secessionists.
We were greeted with shouts and applause by every one all the way up here. There was a very large crowd assembled at Jackson last night. Quite a number of ladies, in fact they were assembled at every station along the route. Sometimes an old woman and her children would come out clapping their hands and spouting to us to protect them poor things. I have no doubt they felt releived when assured by us that they would be or we would die in the attempt.
I am glad you are so far from danger, although far from me, my love. It is about 300 miles by rail to where my darling is, and I can assure you that you seem nearer to me than ever.
Oh darling I got so tired coming up here. They put us in box cars with six inch plank for seats & you know that was not comfortable. We came very near suffocating when we first started, but soon relived ourselves by knocking off the plank off the cars with our muskets and billets of wood in spite of the threats of the officers. Some of the cars were entirely stripped of the weatherboarding, the road on both sides covered with plank. 1000 men are hard to manage…
This paper is verry dirty. As you can see we are camped five miles from the Kentucky line, sixteen from the Mississippi River in Obion county. It is believed we will have some fighting too, soon, especially if the secessionists in Kentucky call for it. There is a great effort on the part of Kentucky to remain neutral but that is impossible. She will have to speak one way or the other.
This dont look much like sunday. The boys are busy engaged cleaning off the camp ground. They have it laid off 1/2 mile square. That is our stomping ground. Quit a small place for one thousand men.
I have not read my bible any in the last three days. Must read some this evening if I have time. I am glad you are getting along so well at home. Hope you will make a good crop. There is another Regiment just now arriving from Mississippi.
Oh my darling how I wish I could see myou but it is not worth telling when I think you know it already and it will do no good to wish. Give my love to all the family and neighbors and rem-
—two hours later. I have just received a letter from you written the 19th. I am glad to hear of your good health. You ask a good many questions which I will proseed to answer. I have one of my blankets and quilt. I have gotten use to sleeping on the ground but never will with the men.
I have three pair of pants but they are thin. I gave my carpet sack to J.C. Nash to carry his clothes home in. I have three pair of woolen socks yet. Tell Betty I will write to her soon and try and interest her in the way of news from the boys.
Tell the folks it is not because I am separated from you that I am fattening for there are plenty of women here and good looking ones to. The boys tell bad tales on us at union City, but there is nothing of it or you would have written me about it I know. But we will make a rise when I come home or be found trying.
The boys are as gay as larks tonight, playing, swinging, and dancing. All seem to bee happy and I try to bee so as much as possible. It is nearly bedtime and quite cool but by spooning we can keep warm. [Her brother] Charles and myself sleep together every night and splice our blankets.
Mr. [Chaplain J.R.] Farrish is in the tent sitting with us to night. I think he wants to get him a woman for the ballance of his life. That [Sam] Jennings is verry proud of [his] expected heir. He is very much in hopes it will be a male. Capt. Fletcher and Lieut. Obrien have not been with the Co for some time. I think the Capt wants to go home.
Well my love I must go to bed. Good bye my sweet wife.
God bless you. Your Newton