Todd-Dawson-038

Transcription: 

Harper’s Ferry, May 30, 1861

[written at the top margin: Write, write, write often and very long letters, longer than any you have written.]

It is night, and the camp is quiet and still. An occasional peal of laughter, with the music of a violin, ascend upon the air and awakens in many bosoms the sweet recollections of home and absent friends. The hour of nine is just reached, and you miniature is before me recalling, it memory had not left their features too strongly impressed to be forgotten, the sweetness of that face which has made the future an Elysium of hope and happiness to me, dearest. It is well, as you write, to build castles in the air, even if they are to fall, and I love to imagine the sky of the future gilded with the tints of happiness. I love to create a picture where you are enthroned as the principal personage. I love to see myself seated at your feet, listening to your sweet voice as it discourses of love and home. These are pleasures even in anticipation, and I will not deny myself the pleasure of indulging in their contemplation.

Although I wrote you this morning, I do not think you will object to reading a second letter as I may not have time to write tomorrow. I am officer of the day at Bolivar tomorrow and will be on duty from 8 o’clock a.m. to some time next day.

I wrote to Mr. Matthews this evening telling him of our engagement. I did not wait for you permission as I remember that you once gave it to me on the evening of the moonlight walk. Have you any reason for supposing that Maj. Haden suspects our engagement? If so, what is the reason? I hope you will not be worried by it. I now take you in preference to all the world and would surmount all obstacles to secure your hand. If they have any prudence or sense, they will hardly do anything to wound my feelings, and I have too good an opinion of Maj. H. to think that he would do anything of the kind. I hope I am not mistaken, but at all events you would not wish upon me the sins of others. But why should I ask my loved Elodie such a favor?

I have not received a letter since the 19th—over ten days—and am now getting very impatient to hear. I have papers to the 24th. We are glad to see that the ladies intend to have cloaks for our companies. They are very much needed. I have fifty-three men this evening on the sick and absent lists. Most of them are only slightly unwell with colds, some few with measles. I make it a rule to go round to see all of my sick men. It would please you to see me seated on the straw under a tent with one of these men. It seems to touch and gratify them so much that I am doubly compensated. If I were sick, no soft hand would be near to nurse and to press upon my feverish temples.

I will bid you goodnight and finish tomorrow. Adieu. May pleasant dreams visit your slumbers, dearest Elodie.

Every affectionately yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

May 31.

I write in the early morning to tell my loved Elodie that my first waking thoughts are always of her and that they give color to every object that passes in view before my mind. Unlike the colors of the chameleon, my thoughts never change but are always pleasantly of you. My only anxiety arises from the uncertainty of this war which intervenes like an ominous wedge between our marriage. If it continues ten years, are you still going to tell me that you will postpone our union for fear of trouble to me? No, dearest, you must not. I will insist upon our marriage at the earliest possible time if peace is made, but if the war is to continue indefinitely, I can see no reason why we should not be married during the summer. You will know that as far as trouble and anxiety are concerned, they are as feathers in the scales when compared with my willingness and desire and determination to assume all responsibilities of that kind. Will you be willing to become a soldier’s bride, to share with him the fortunes of war and the anxieties and privations of camp life? I do not ask you unless we are to have war for an indefinite period, to make these sacrifices. And now goodbye. God bless and keep my own dear and affectionate Elodie.

Ever and affty yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

Date: 
May 31, 1861

Author(s)

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

Recipient(s)

Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

From

From State: 
Virginia
From Municipality: 

To

To State: 
Alabama
To Municipality: 
To County: 
Dallas

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • history@uga.edu

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory