Prison Pens
Gender, Memory, and Imprisonment in the Writings of Mollie Scollay and Wash Nelson, 1863–1866

Edited by Timothy J. Williams and Evan A. Kutzler

A poignant exchange that reveals the role of memory in Civil War histories


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 generating Lost Cause mythology.

This book is 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.

New Perspectives on the Civil War Era

Page count: 136
10 b&w images, 1 diagram, 2 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $64.95

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List price: $24.95

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Timothy J. Williams is an assistant professor of history at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Intellectual Manhood: University, Self, and Society in the Antebellum South.
Evan A. Kutzler is an assistant professor of history at Georgia Southwestern University. He is the author (with photographer Jill Stuckey) of Ossabaw Island: A Sense of Place.