Will Fisher to his mother
Elk River, Tennessee
March 30, 1864

Ever dear Mother,

Do not think me negligent for not writing before and after all I don’t know but I am. But the fast time passes so swiftly that I am not aware of the flight of time till a period longer than I intend to allow flies away before I write again. The last welcome letter from you was dated the 15th, was dreadful glad to get it. I thank you for your sympathies about my embarrassed financial situation, and am very glad you are not disposed to find fault with me.
You spoke to me about that strong term which I used in my communication to the Post. I concur with you in our opinion of the term, but Mr. Crocker misrepresented it, for I intended the word to be a strong term, and to be printed in full, which would have been all right and the term in my opinion would have been none too strong, but he printed it H___l which gives it the sense of an oath. I was sorry it was so, and have determined not to make use of such terms, in any common case, for fear of misrepresentation.
I had a letter and a paper from my friend Shiland last night. The papers were copies of three noble speeches. Many thanks to him for his kindness. This you see is some of the profits of that hint that I threw out in the Post. In his letter he approached me on a subject which quite surprised me. He has been up to see Cousin Min. He says that he thinks from his conversation with her, that they (Uncle Lemuel’s folks) infer from my letter that I am living a different life from formerly. Now I am aware that I need religion very much, but if I have written anything that such an inference can be drawn from it, I am perfectly ignorant of it. In my last letter to Min and George while speaking of you, I said that of all my past errors there was no one I regretted more than disobedience to such a good mother, but I had no intention of making any wrong impressions nor carrying any such idea.
I left off tobacco for two days this week but have a sweet morsel under my tongue at present. I would abandon the use of it, but physicians or doctors say that it is a good preventive against disease and advise those who have the habit, not to break it off.
Enclosed you will find a piece of poetry written on Jenny Wade, a young lady who remained in the city of Gettysburg during the battle and was shot through the heart with her hands in the dough, making bread for the soldiers. Anyone who was at the battle of Gettysburg can understand what danger there would be in remaining in the town during the battle, for the village was directly between both the armies, in the bloody assault upon our left center on the PM of 2nd July. They are very pretty indeed and I want them saved for my scrap book.
If I live to be a hundred years old I shall always be interested in anything pertaining to that battle. If every man in the North could witness one such battle, as G-g they would then appreciate our services. The fact is, no one can form the least possible idea of a battle until he sees one, yea more, participates in one. At G-g, for instance, on the 2nd, about 4 PM the skirmishers began to fire a little more rapid and we could see that the enemy were pressing them. (The skirmishers are constantly firing, night and day, in time of battle, whether they can see anything or not. These skirmishers are a line of men, who, scatter out five paces apart, and are sent ahead of the main line of battle, to discover the strength of the enemy and their position.) In this case we were on a rise of ground on the right of the line, and not being engaged at the time, we had a good view of all the action. As I said the skirmishers began to be pretty active and in a few moments the solid ranks of the enemy could be seen, forming in the woods, on the heights away across the plain, beyond the town, and then they began to move on, on, on with a firm heavy tread. I will say here, as a comparison, that our position was about like our being on Fenton’s Hill back of the Academy and the Rebs way across by Dr. Grey’s Hills east of the town, and on they came tearing all fences flat as they marched.
On the line of their march was a large seminary and church or two with all the splendid grounds usually around such buildings, laying them in waste, driving the skirmishers in before them and finally came up near enough to pour a volley into our noble fellows, who were concealed behind the stone wall, which enclosed the cemetery. At this time, the whole line rose up from behind the wall, pouring volley after volley into, and the artillery opened on them from all points. Then was the time I wanted some men I knew in Wash. Co. to be present and see the excitement and even take part in. I tell you it is terrible, terrible, to hear constantly the peal after peal, roll along the lines, like the very heaviest kind of thunder and continual, and after a little to see the wounded begin to go to the rear all bloody and some with arms off and to think of those killed and unable to get away. It is terrible.
I tell you a general who can witness all the scenes of the battle field, see the wounded and dying by thousands and the awful thunder of arms is in a fearfully responsible place, and must have nerves as strong as adamant.
We rec’d the 3rd number of the C.I. last night, they come quite regular.
The news you told me of the arrival of Cousin Fannie’s little son surprised me quite as much as the announcement from John that I had become an Uncle William.
In regard to my watch as to its being useful enough to pay its way. I think so, for I have to carry a watch every time I go on duty and so does Lem. He has decided to send home for his. It is very inconvenient to get them fixed and that is the worst objection to them.
You speak of Jim Sherman running for collector, I wish he had got it.
You wondered if I had used all the tobacco that came in the barrel last winter. No I did not, for I had to divide with my tent mates but will get that returned when they get some from home.
Remember when you get a chance send that diarrhea medicine, watch, bible and I don’t care if you send me another pack of envelopes by mail.
Lots of love to Aunt S. Lem is well, sends love also, write soon to your boy.