A Soldier's Letters to Charming Nellie
The Correspondence of Joseph B. Polley, Hood's Texas Brigade
One of the most cited collections of letters by a Civil War soldier, A Soldier’s Letters to Charming Nellie was originally published in 1908. A unit history of the 4th Texas Infantry in epistolary form, Joseph B. Polley’s letters make available the correspondence of a soldier who participated in virtually all military action in the Eastern Theater. Polley was an unusually gifted writer, with a talent for satire and humor unmatched by most Civil War diarists.
While the collection met with an enthusiastic audience upon its appearance, it has not been without controversy. Scholars have debated some of the letters’ authenticity; many appeared in the Confederate Veteran long after the end of the war, and questions remain about whether they were all written during the Civil War or if some were composed at the turn of the century or later.
In this definitive, annotated edition, Richard B. McCaslin has prepared new transcriptions of the letters and compared variant versions of them, resolving many of the historiographical puzzles that surround this wonderful collection. McCaslin also includes an analysis of when, how, and why Polley wrote the letters.
The volume will aid historians interested in the activities of the Army of Northern Virginia and its commanders, and especially students of Hood’s Texas Brigade.