Will Fisher to his cousin Julia Whelden
Elk River, Tennessee, Camp of 123rd NY Vols.
March 28, 1864

Dear Cousin Julia,

Your very welcome letter of Feb. 21st and March 4th came to hand but a few days since. By some unaccountable delay it was detained a great while.
I think you must have been very busy while getting up that performance for the Sanitary Commission. I believe that it is one of the noblest institutions of American benevolence. Some soldiers who are habitual grumblers have a great deal to say against the Sanitary Commission merely because they don’t get its goods distributed among them (who are well) while in fact the goods of the San. Com. are intended for hospitals.
Although I have received none of the goods yet, but oh, if I had ten thousand tongues I could not speak too much in favor of the San. Com. and the Christian Commission.
In regard to your letter I will say that a good deportment of yourself this time will make amends for all past offenses. Remember that in the future I shall not make so much allowance for you as when you were getting up the exhibition. No sir. I won’t. But enough for this I trust you will be a punctual correspondent this summer and I will guarantee you always a speedy reply unless should have to “go to the front” for then I might not find none too much time for writing.
I have seen a schedule or program of your exhibition that was sent to Lem. I should like to have seen the performance well, but as I could not it was quite a privilege to see the “order of exercises.” The program was very prettily printed and of itself was quite a success. Much of the success of an exhibition is in a neat, tidy well pointed schedule or program. I suppose you had some exquisitely nice music, and the “Sea Foam” was gay I presume.
It makes me feel very much antiquated to read letters from my old school mates and associates giving accounts of their school exercises, while I am so far from any such thing. It seems just as though I was there myself, but I am not and think it is all for the best. For you know with my disposition I could never be contented to stay quietly at home while one of the most inexcusable and stupendous rebellions, the magnitude of which I tell you Julia, you have no idea. No sir, I would forever condemn myself for it and come to the fine thing I could not put so much cheek in sticking up for this most blessed country if I had not done what was plain to me as my duty at the time I enlisted.
One of the principle arguments against my enlisting was my unfitness to stand the fatigues common to a soldier, because so young. Well I will admit I was young, but was large of my age, and had a very strong constitution. Now I thought I knew all this myself, friends thought contrary, too young. Which has proved to be right in this matter? Why I have, because I have never been any more healthy and have grown just as much as I would at home. There is no one in this camp stood the hardships better than I have, and now I would not be deprived of that consolation. From serving my country 19 months and besides all this I have got some experience that never could have been gained at home.
I expect you would hardly know me now. I have grown to be quite a boy, weight 170 lb, am dreadfully tanned up, have been blacker than a contraband cow since I came out.
Enclosed you will find a little relic of Ala. It is made out of a muscle shell which abounds in the Tenn. River. We got them when we was at Bridgeport. There is a fellow in the co. who makes a great many trinkets out of these shells. They are a good deal like a clam shell. They sell rapidly at from one to five dollars according to height of color. If it is not too large for you, keep it, if too large, give it away.
I have been hearing considerable news lately, i.e. that John R. Fisher and James McFarland had both been presented with heirs to their enormous estates. There still seems to be a great amount of marriages in old Wash. Co.
How is Aunt M. Uncle N. and all the younger portion of the family? You can’t have any idea how much I would like to get home and see all the folks and friends. It would seem so natural to see the familiar countenances, and, now I am afraid all my little pets will have forgotten me.
I am now at a strife with a fellow tent mate to see which will do without tobacco the longest. For that reason, I can’t collect my thoughts today and am very nervous.
Give my respects to Uncle Lemuel’s folks & tell them if they ain’t going to write again to tell me why. Love to all, write very soon to your every loving cousin.