Prison Pens presents the memoir of a captured Confederate soldier in northern Virginia and the letters he exchanged with his fiancée during the Civil War. Wash Nelson and Mollie Scollay’s letters, as well as Nelson’s own manuscript memoir, provide rare insight into a world of intimacy, despair, loss, and reunion in the Civil War South. The tender voices in the letters combined with Nelson’s account of his time as a prisoner of war provide a story that is personal and political, revealing the daily life of those living in the Confederacy and the harsh realities of being an imprisoned soldier. Ultimately, through the juxtaposition of the letters and memoir, Prison Pens provides an opportunity for students and scholars to consider the role of memory and incarceration in retelling the Confederate past and incubating Lost Cause mythology.
This book will be accompanied by a digital component: a website that allows students and scholars to interact with the volume’s content and sources via an interactive map, digitized letters, and special lesson plans.