This letter from I (D) Company’s Pvt. Nimrod Newton Nash was undated. Headed only “Leesburg, Vir – Aug 1861.” McLean decided that its contents placed it on Aug. 10, the day the regiment left Centreville for their new camp near Carter’s Mill, a few miles southwest of Leesburg on the Oatlands Plantation. Must have been later in the month, though. The 10th was a Saturday; they didn’t arrive until the next evening. Nash tells his wife the day is Sunday, then mentions events that couldn’t have happened so soon after the march.
In this, and Nash’s other letters (and the diaries), I’m leaving the original spelling, while adding paragraphing, punctuation and capitalizing the first word of each sentence to make the reading easier. We laugh at their misspellings, but even the educated then had their peculiar choices and sometimes spelled words phonetically. Spelling was not standardized until public education was widespread in the late Nineteenth Century.
As it is Sunday and raining I will while away a few moments (excuse me for the expression) writing to you although it has been but a few days since I wrote you. Nothing in the world passes of the time better than when I am thinking of you and other dear ones farr farr away.
To know that I have your thoughts and progress [on the farm at home] is great consolation. There is nothing in camp to divert the attention of the soldiers, and they are nearly all busying themselves writing home.
From reports that come here today and yesterday, the federal forces have been all driven from our soil, except Alexandria and arlington hights. Wise and Lee have been victorious in north western Virginia.
When I wrote you last, the 17th and 18th [Miss. regiments] had started up the river to attack some federal troops about nineteen miles, in stead of seven as I wrote you. Well when they got there the rogues had fled to the other side of the river. They brought back nine of the nigger steelers who I suppose were scattered about over the country haveing a fine time I reckon; as most of the people in that locality are union men as they call themselves. One of the prisoners has a sweet heart up on the road, and when he came by as a prisoner she done some pretty loud squalling after her Johnny.
Gen [actually still colonel] Evans gave the Yankeys a chance for a fight, if they would cross back this side of the river, but they politely declined. There was ten thousand troops over there opposite a little place called [Lovettsville] that we will have to watch, I reckon, as part of our brigad, the eighth Virginia regiment, started up there this morning, and I suppose we will follow soon.
We hear from Centreville nearly every day. The boys are all doing very well at that place. [Brother-in-law] Mat Davis is still there waiting on the sick. He had better go home, I think, for fear he will get sick himself; although he is doing a great deal of good. I heard this morning that Mat was coming up here.
[I company’s] Mr. Neaves [Pvt. Marion Neves], [Pvt] John Williams, and [Pvt. M. Cicero] Doss have died since I wrote you last. They were all good soldiers. Died at Culpepper. Doss is a poor man and left a wife and two children. This family ought to bee attended too by the people of Attala. There has been seventy-five deaths in our regiment since we started from home.
…Well darling I want you to send me some good winter clothes. I want one good heavy coat, two pair pants, three pair socks, two pair drawers, [and] two good Hickory shirts. I want all heavy substantial woolen goods. I would like to have two flannel under shirts as it is much colder here than in Mississippi. We will have to be well clothed if we remain here during the winter, but I hope and pray that we will not have to remain in camp, but be more comfortably situated…
Well Darling, I have a letter to write to Pa and will therefore close by saying to you to tell [sister] Sallie that I intend to wear the piece of riband she sent me until I come home. Give my love to all the relatives and friends and receive my best love and wishes for your happiness.
Your devoted husband
(You can make photocopies of Newt’s letters to Mollie at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, MS.)