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George Washington Nelson Papers

 Collection — Box: 1, Folder: 1-16
Identifier: WLU-Coll-0643

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of letters primarily between George Washington "Wash" Nelson, Jr., of Hanover County, Virginia and his cousin and future wife Mary “Mollie” Nelson Scollay of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Nelson commanded the Hanover Light Artillery (Va.) and was a staff officer of General William Nelson Pendleton, the Chief of Artillery of the Confederacy’s Army Northern Virginia, during the American Civil War. Nelson was captured in October 1862 and spent the remainder of the war in Union prisons at Camp Chase, Johnson’s Island, Morris Island, Fort Delaware., and Point Lookout. Nelson’s final letter is sent on May 23, 1865 within weeks of his release from prison. The bulk of the collection are twenty letters between George and Mollie. Also included are seven wartime letters from George to “Charlotte” who we believe is Charlotte Cazenove Massie, wife of William O. Massie, and of Alexandria, Va. The wartime letters describe prison life, details of fellow prisoners, updates on home and family, and George and Mollie’s courtship.


  • Creation: 1863 - 1903
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1863 - 1865


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.


16 Item


The letters in this collection are arranged chronologically throughout. Folders including letters to "Charlotte" from George Nelson are noted in folder level description.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection is a gift to Washington and Lee University Special Collections from Rockbridge County, Virginia resident Peter O'Shaugnessey in 2016. Peter is a descendant of the correspondents.

Related Materials

This collection is related to Virginia Tech Special Collections Department's "Nelson Family Papers, 1783-1872, N.D.", with the collection number "MS1989-021." See: Finding Aid

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA