Todd-Dawson-023

Transcription: 

Selma, May 19, 1861

I have been sitting for some moments, your daguerreotype in hand, gazing upon the face which I would be so overjoyed to behold this very morning, thinking until I am so sad that I imagine that nothing can do me the same amount of good as writing to you and giving expression to some of the thoughts and dark forebodings which haunt so continually my mind in the three weeks past which have placed so many long and intervening miles between us, surrounding you with perhaps imminent danger. I feel that I have lived in thought and feeling a long and dreary year so slowly does the wheel of time turn, and those days calculated to impress one with gloom and dread and thereby biding the longer from our view the others which may be for us fraught with much happiness for the future. It is well occasionally to indulge in bright anticipations and rear beautiful air castles altho' we see them the next moment totter on their base and fall to the ground a ruin of hopes dashed for at the time we are happy and sadness springing from the disappointment is pleasurable, but I hope mine may all yet be realized. Tho' the sky be hung with lowering clouds, soon the silver lining may appear and the sun's bright beams illumine them.

I am impatiently waiting for Bro. Clem each moment to bring me a letter from you and will be sadly disappointed if he does not for I have not heard for two days and wish to know of your safe arrival at Harper's Ferry and what you are going to do next, whether there is any probability of our engagement soon at that point or if you are safe a little longer and not going to be sent to Washington. I have no idea of your being ordered to that place and would be more opposed to your going there than I was to Virginia, to which place I would have prevented your journeying if I could and which shows how I may try to guide and direct you. It does well enough for you to write about such things, but you must remember I have brothers-in-law and possess a wee portion of knowledge about gentlemen. They always take advice when it suits what their minds are bent on doing, and no doubt if you had not intended going and I advised you not you would have stayed at home.

We had a very unexpected visit yesterday from Capt. No Major Gee (for that is now his title) who had been to Montgomery on business. He looks very badly, has been quite sick he told me, expects he may be ordered to Va. So you may meet with him. I have a fine photograph of his standing, dressed in his regimentals, and you have no idea what a handsome picture he makes. [illegible] H. [1] informed me last night when I showed it to him that he had one of himself for me rather in the same way. I shall have quite a picture gallery soon. Don't you think you could add yours to the number [even] if you are not as handsome? I will prize it quite as much as either of theirs.

I have just rec'd your last letter dated the 17th from Port Royal which gave me a great deal of pleasure to know you were well at the time of writing, but I do not see how you can undergo so many privations and hardships after the life you have been leading without being made sick and hope you may continue to get along all the time as now. By this you must be quite at home at Harper's Ferry. I wish you really were at home in Selma, but if the War continues as long as some think it will, many months will elapse before I can have the pleasure of seeing you back for I hear it is thought if War begins it will in all probability last two years, and the horrible pictures sometimes drawn make me shudder. Have you gone in for the war or for a year? I am under the impression for the latter, am I not correct? I read the article you enclosed but do not agree with you in thinking it so beautiful. I think two or three paragraphs worthy of admiration but suppose I do not appreciate it. I don't want you to be filling up your letters with paper. I have no objection to reading any article which you are good enough to send me, but they must not curtail your letters which are so much shorter than mine that I shall soon follow your example thinking they are intended for that purpose.

Last night we had an alarm of fire between 12 and 1 o'clock which created quite an excitement. The steamboat Selma caught fire just as it landed, but owing to the promptness of the fire company was saved with little difficulty. It was quite a relief to know that it was the boat and nothing serious for other fears generally enter our minds at first owing to the plots discovered some months ago, tho' I apprehend no danger myself. We have another company, or two indeed, organized since you left--the "Selma Grays," Mr. Wetmore, Capt., also the "Dallas Rangers." Mr. Wetmore [2] has declined going with the Blues for the war but is perfectly willing to go for a year. The Blues really start Tuesday night on the Republic. Mrs. Kent [3] accompanies the Dr. It is well poor Mrs. Hardie is not here or else another of her ridiculous scenes would be gone over with to the amusement of some of those she considers her best friends.

In looking over this I find it looks miserable and were I to read it I suppose a few moments would suffice to destroy it. I do not intend to apologize for it because were I to copy or take pains I do not know that I would succeed better. The truth is I cannot write to you. All the time I feel as if I could talk tho' and expect when next we meet I will talk so much you will beg me to stop. What I have done will not even be a sample. Do you not dread it? But here I am again as usual filling up so many pages and think for your comfort I will stop. Do take good care of yourself and don't get any bullets or on the sick list unless you can come home to be nursed by your friends.

I feel so blue and disconsolate this evening I am going to try and shut my troubles up in my eyes just as tight as I can for two or three hours.

My Bro. Mr. Helm [4] from Louisville was in Montgomery a few days ago for the purpose of enlisting in the Confederate Army. He was educated at W[est] P[oint] and served for three or four years in the regular army. I hope he may succeed as it's a life he prefers to all others and would willingly give up law for it. Now goodbye. If my prayers ever ascend and will be answered, you will be spared from harm and return once more to your own affectionate,

Dee

Footnotes: 
  1. Robert Hagood.
  2. Possibly Thomas B. Wetmore, who mustered in as a provost marshal and eventually became an acting assistant quartermaster famous for composing a little ditty about collecting women's urine to produce ammonium nitrate for use in gunpowder: "We thought the girls had work enough making shirts and kissing / But you have put the pretty dears to patriotic pissing." See Cameron C. Nickels, Civil War Humor (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 70-71.
  3. M. G. Kent was the twenty-three-year-old wife of Dr. James Kent. 1860 Census: Selma.
  4. Benjamin Hardin Helm (see May 15, 1861).
Date: 
May 19, 1861

Author(s)

Unit: 
4th Alabama Infantry
Rank: 
Captain
Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

Recipient(s)

Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

From

From State: 
Alabama
From Municipality: 
From County: 
Dallas

To

To State: 
Virginia
To Municipality: 

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