Will Fisher to his mother
In my little shanty, Elk River
February 4, 1864

My dearest Mother,

Although but a short time has expired since I closed my last letter to you, yet I have almost forgotten what I wrote about. I think I wrote that the regt. or five companies of it were going off on a scout into Lincoln County. Well they went to the appointed (next morning) they have been gone about five days now and we have not heard from them yet, only by rumor.
Tonight we had quite a good old fashioned time at a prayer meeting held at the hospital. There is a minister from Putnam, Rev. Mr. Lawrence. He is to labor for five or six weeks for the Christian Commission and will preach for us occasionally. We had a prayer last night and also tonight too. He is a regular United Presbyterian. He belongs to the same church that John attended in Putnam. I never attended church, so to speak, when it seemed so good as this did. I had an introduction to this man today, he seems to be a very nice man.
I suppose Lem will go to Nashville tomorrow for examination for a colored commission. I almost wish sometimes that he won’t be successful, for if he does, it will be necessary for him to leave sooner or later and again I know it will be better for him. But I shall certainly be very lonely for awhile, and I know I shall miss him very much. Then I can’t go to him and say, “Lem I got a letter from home tonight, did you?” And we always, if proper, read each others letters. Lem is well liked in the company. The reason Lem and Inman Thomas were liked so well is because they never offended any of the rough ones by meddling with them or reproving them for swearing or anything of the kind. You may think that this would be their duty, but I can tell you that in most cases their influence would be destroyed in a moment. For instance if two men are engaged in a blow and get to using hard language and anyone say anything to them about it, he would be told to attend to his own affairs and let other people alone.
I think this is the worst company for quarreling, I ever knew. There is no fighting but all blowing. They are like a lot of brothers, who have their spats every five minutes, and the best of friends the next minute and they will resent an injury on one of the boys of the company as quick as brothers will when a stranger imposes on one of them. I tell you if a man touches one he touches all.
But I will close for tonight and, if I have time tomorrow night, I will finish it. So good night Mother and Aunt Sarah.
Saturday, Feb. 6th
I have not had any opportunity to write any since night before last, for I was on picket and had to stay at post all the time, without any relief.
Lem is now at Nashville. I suppose his fate was decided today. He will probably be back Monday and perhaps will then know his fate and maybe not, for they do not always tell them what the result is but send them back to the regt. and send after them when they need them. I think they will find him competent and accept him.
Well, I have had quite a good supper tonight. I had a pork potpie. I like the potpies so well that I would like to eat all of my flour boiled with meat. Fresh meat, of course, is the best but I make it out of salt pork. I can mix up some, boil the meat, and put the whole meal out of the way in just one hour from time I commence building the fire. We live on beans a good deal of the time, that is, when we can get them. Just learnt how to cook them. When you hear that I am on the way home I hardly know what I want you to get for dinner, but be sure and get some kind of fare that they don’t have in the army.
But hold on, I don’t know how I come to write so far without telling you that yesterday I got a letter from John. Just think of it! Three and a half sheets of paper all written over. Oh, how glad I was to get it for I had not heard from him in so long, several months. He seems to take things rather coolly for he says he don’t know as he has anything to offer except it be laziness, and don’t think that his affections for me has materially changed unless it be on the increase. He wrote me an interesting letter indeed, said you sent a letter to him which you had from me. He thought me rather severe on the conscript question, but I guess he knew I didn’t mean him. I guess he is very busy with all his boarders. He has a horse and wagon he tells me.
I also, at the same time received two papers from you. I think I have got them all and I also notice the “writing on the sly” which you know is very acceptable at all times. I, also, yesterday received the Waverley containing the Herricks Pills for box of L. S. Tripp, and a very nice lot of soda by Ed Knapp’s box, for which I thank you very much. The Pills are about the only kind of medicine a person needs here in the army. Tripp’s box has been on the road 22 days and it has been so warm that his provisions all spoiled except butter and such things.
The Waverly was a treat and I took particular notice of “Take notice” on “Smoke.” Think it is good, first rate. I was glad you saw some pieces that were good. At present there is a continued story in them entitled “Mary of Burgunda” which is the only continued story I ever saw in them. I have not read it and don’t know what it is like, only I know the rest of it is good, and is the largest paper I ever saw. If, after we get paid off, and you get the money, you should send for the paper be sure and have the editor’s photograph sent as it is free of charge.
Speaking of smoke, I think when I get home I will leave off the tobacco, and then I will be out of the “stimulus” line altogether, as I do not use either the “ardent” nor tea, nor coffee. I have not drunk any tea or coffee in a long while and shall not drink any more unless driven to it by short rations. I don’t think the army can get along without it when under some circumstances. It is the staff of life with a good many instead of bread, and I know of a great many times when I could not have marched all night without it. Often when I have been about tired out, and drink a strong cup of coffee, although I did not like it much, it would make me feel like a new man and I could stand it for quite awhile and this very thing is what convinced me that there was something stimulating about it.
While I think about it, I want to say a word about my bible. It is all to pieces and worn out. There is hardly two leaves together in it and I shall have to have a new one before long. I can get testaments of the USCC (Christian Commission) but not bibles complete. This old one has worn a long time considering what it has been through, two battles, and been wet through more than five hundred times. It has been hit once with a shell or piece of one. As we were on the retreat at Chancellorsville, there was a piece of shell struck my knapsack and that was about all I had in it at the time. The piece probably would not have injured me any if it had not been there.
We expect the five companies back now soon. Expect they will all come in mounted, for I hear that they have been taking lots of horses.
Has Lem’s box started yet?
There is a report now that Joe Skinner has been arrested for desertion and that was the reason he left town. How is it Lem don’t know anything about it? If there was any such thing talked of, before he went, he might have known that people would talk and accuse him of going for that purpose.
I have had a letter from Min, George, Aunt Julia, and Fan, all in one very good one too. You spoke of their having my letter, some of it, published. Well I don’t care, if they don’t put in any part of it which is flat. Fan said Aunt Sarah was quite lame and sore when she was there. I really am sorry. Afraid I never shall get home to see her, but hope so. Give her my love, always and keep lots for yourself. So I close hoping to hear from you soon.

I am your very affect. son,
Will Fisher

I send you a map of our location which I drew a few days ago. Just for amusement, but thought it might please you.