According to Jess McLean’s book, Minutemen Private Nimrod Newton Nash wrote the following letters to his sister Camilla on Sunday, Feb. 8th, 1862:
Camp Forrest Near Leesburg, Va.
Mrs. Camilla Davis
I received your very kind letter by the immortal Capt. [Lorenzo D.] Fletcher [lately returned from a sick furlough] written Jan. 26. Was glad to get one from you even at this late date, but think it might have come sooner. Had given out receiving one from you. Hope it will not be the last.
My health is very good. My weight is 160 lbs, 25 lbs more than when I left home. I have had every disease except smallpox that man in heir to and think another twelve months campaign would not go so hard with me as this has. The health of the army at this place was never better since we came out. The friends of this regiment won’t know half of them if they were to surprise them at home. I never saw as fat and saucy [a] set of fellow[s] in my life.
You want to know how we get along without Capt. [Anderson, assistant surgeon]. In short, better without than such an one as we have had or, any such stock. He is the poorest excuse for a Captain in the Confederate Army. He has been here four days now, after an absence of three months, and has not been in the quarters or seen more than half the men. His wages is all that keeps him here, not his country.
[Her brother-in-law] Will is in fine health and spirits. Are our friends going to stay at home and see all the twelves months troops pressed in for another year, which is likely to bee done[?] It seems so from the way they are doing. Well we have held our own thus far and will do it again or die in the attempt before we will leave our country and all that is near and dear at the mercy of a set of hirelings and robbers.
Any man with one spark of patriotism will flock to our support. Many made a big fuss in the out set and said come on and drive the invader from our soil. Where are they now[?] In the chimney corner at home, saying What a people we are, and there they will remain until they are forced into the service. They ought to know that thirty thousand of Miss. [‘s] best are watching them and will always remember them to. I console myself with the thought that if we have the fighting to do, and with God’s aid are successful, can exclaim what a great people we are to and that we have performed a duty that we owe to our country.
It still remains cold here. There has been and is now snow on the ground ever since before new year and is snowing now. The most pleasant weather in camps is when coldest, then there is no mud which keeps it unpleasant. I have no war news, everything quiet. No duty. My love to all. Write to, and pray for your brother.
[P.S.] Mat [her husband], you must stir up the natives down there.
As the mail did not leave our camp this morning, it being Sunday, I concluded to write some more and enclose in the same envelope. Everything is quiet today as usual on the Sabbath. A goodly number went to town to preaching to day and have not returned yet. The Episcopalian minister was to preach, who is very popular with the soldiers and said to be very talented as well as a good strong Southern man. Some of his sermons will be published soon. I have heard but three sermons since we came to this state.
I took dinner with [her brother-in-law] Will Davis and mess today. They had a fine chicken pie which is the most popular way to do up chicken fixings. We get plenty to eat now with the exception of sugar and molasses. The roads are so bad they can’t get heavy produce here with the number of wagons they have in use. Everything is enormously high here. Butter 3790 cts [sic] and everything in proportion.
The boys are having their fun with a negro man about using the word [indeed], which is the commonest word with Virginians. [Her husband] Mat can tell you something about the word.
This is the most pleasant day we have had this winter. Well what do you think about my going in for the war. I know some of you will bee down on me for even harboring such an idea. I would like to know if you will take care of my old woman in case I do go in for the war. I intend going home if it is possible for me to do so.
Tell Mat if he can make arrangements with anyone to take one of my mules for the feed he will confer a favor on me. I am willing for anyone to take one of them if they are responsible and will be likely to take care of it. I had much rather sell on if it is possible to do so at any thing like a fair valuation. I will sell either of them for cash or credit to a responsible [person]. I have too many horses to feed for one in my circumstances.
The last letter I received from Mollie she wrote like she was very much discouraged with the way things were going on at home but I hope she will get along better than she thinks she will. Well I reckon you all were a forlorn looking set while your husbands were all away from home. Now you all know how to sympathize with those whose husband [has] been gone for nine months and some of them will know how to appreciate the service of their husbands when they return.
Ed Harmon told me today that there would be an effort made in a few days to get this Regt. to go home and enlist for the war, but I think he must bee mistaken. Nothing more. Write soon and write about every thing and everybody. Tell Mat to write.
I remain your brother Newton Nash