Todd-Dawson-040

Transcription: 

Selma, June 2, 1861

Saturday Bro. Clem handed me three letters from you dated 24th, 25th, 26th, which gratified me exceedingly as I was beginning to despair of ever hearing from you again, these being the first letters for a week. I suppose this delay and all coming together was owing to the new mail arrangements, yet newspapers came from everywhere it seems to me to confirm the news of the battle at Harper's Ferry and Hampton, and your silence or I should say the non arrival of your letters made me think perhaps there was some truth in the telegram, and there were many who felt as sad as I did until we found the news false. I really think that to publish such a dispatch without knowing that it is reliable should be punishable. I am glad you are at last receiving your letters and hope all I write will fall into your own hands as I do not write for any other eyes, and I know my letters would not be read as well to anyone else as they do to you. Besides if they give you pleasure I do not wish you to be without them, and I thought if you never received them you might doubt whether they were written as you seem to possess the idea that I may flirt [with] you and marry someone else during your absence. Well I suppose you had better be on your guard for you know what Mr. Dennis says of me, and perhaps it is true that I am very tricky, but this much I promise that when I marry you shall be present to know more about it than any other person. Will this do? But of course I know you are only jesting when you give expression to such fears for did I believe you thought otherwise after what I have told you, I would never write you another line, for there can never come a period when we should have more confidence in each other than at this time, nor could I be possessed of more than I have now in you, and I know you feel the same way with regard to myself. If you do not, you may place confidence in me with perfect safety, if you take my word for it, for I shall not love anybody else, and, if you are not permitted to return, I will live a cross, spiteful, old maid to the discomfort of all who know me and make it my chief aim in life to annoy and worry as much as I can all who come near me. I imagine that would be the only thing I would take any pleasure in.

You will see from this that I did not go as I anticipated to Summerfield, having heard there was an indisposition in the family I proposed visiting, and I may not go for a week yet. I would prefer staying in Selma as I do not feel as tho' I would enjoy the visit and only go to comply with a promise made some time ago, tho' were you to see me visiting here sometimes you would think I enjoyed it exceedingly but to tell the truth if I do not go out and have a very smiling face at home, I am teased and tormented most unmercifully by the household who threaten to write and tell you how mean you were to say anything to me before going to Va. I often tell them I think they are interfering and meddling, and I fear I am not grateful enough for the interest they manifest, and I want to be let alone. I think myself a martyr, but how foolishly I have rattled on. I feel ashamed of myself and since I have found it out, I am puzzled to know what else is left me to add for Selma is as Kittie says the dullest, most quiet, out of the way place in the world. I told [her] the attraction left before she came, but I do not blame her for thinking as she does for there is very little visiting done among the ladies and still less by the few young gentlemen left here, and there is nothing for her to do but read a little and dine in the evening. I take interest in going thro [illegible] to get work for the poor soldiers and am happy to say most of the ladies are aiding in sewing and a day or two since there was complete 183 oil cloth caps, more than a hundred of those caps and a box of goods being cut out, so you will soon receive some boxes, and from the lint and bandages I believe they intend all Guards and Cadets to be wounded twice over.

I omitted in my last to answer a request you made and repeat in your letter of yesterday which is my permission to allow you to tell Mrs. Mathews of our engagement. If I am not mistaken it was granted before you left, and I supposed she had been informed long since. Of course I have no objection and hope I will be as kindly thought of by her as you seem to think, and I will endeavor to make myself agreeable to her as she has been so kind to you. I think it but right that she should have your confidence and hope I have not prevented your communicating the intelligence to her if an opportunity has presented itself. Nor am I selfish enough to wish you to love and think of no one else but me for I know there are others who have claims to your love and thoughts, and I would not wish to prevent them from being loved as I know and enjoy so much the pleasure it gives me to have someone to be loving and kind that I think it would be a happiness to divide with them my own feeling and your love. I hope I will not be happy when I rob others of their rights. Do you know that you have asked me to answer truthfully and candidly some questions I had rather not and have quite an inclination not to do and if I enjoyed being unkind to you as much as to others I would not, but with a desperate effort I proceed. After expressing my objections to you to going with you to Virginia which you attach no importance to, altho' you acknowledge that I will add to your anxiety and care and perhaps give you more trouble, yet you are or may be willing to take yourself the trouble. I am willing to make some sacrifices when I know that to do so would contribute both to your and my own happiness. I certainly would be far happier with you than so far away, yet think, when you were absent I would be surrounded with strangers and would have to hear from you just as I do now and then be separated from my family beside, but I do not hesitate to say that if I could be with you always that I would be happier and would prefer it, and [I am] willing to endure hardships and make sacrifices to be with you. I won't say near you. You ask would I be willing to risk all the trials and sorrows that your death would entail on me as your wife. I say yes and assure you that as such I could not feel your death more than I would now. Do you suppose for one moment that I could? But now that I have answered all the questions you asked me and candidly too, I will quit the subject for it does not add to my comfort to look on any but the bright side, and I will not think of your dying for I declare I am growing nervous since I began on this subject which indeed you may well say is serious.

Col. Ellsworth was only an acquaintance of Kittie's, but one with whom she was thrown much last winter and being agreeable I think they were excellent friends, nothing more. But had she then seen him in his true light, she could not surely have entertained even that feeling. Nothing but contempt and scorn would have been the emotion of a woman for such a man. I have been expecting your photograph but as yet have heard nothing of it. Kittie says she must claim one also. I wish you could see this sister and mother of mine for I think you would like them both. My mother is the dearest, best woman on earth and is the loveliest and most amiable of persons and so agreeable and I think pretty. Kittie is fatter and larger than myself with black hair and eyes, rosy cheeks, and, altho' with strangers too dignified, is just as lively as can be at home but is rather spoilt being the youngest. Once or twice I have been asked if she was not the eldest and when I told her what her dignity did for her, she said if I would behave as well for my age as she does for hers we would be properly placed. I sigh for dignity.

Of course Mr. Averitt is very fond of you and all unpleasant acts that he is guilty of should be attributed to a want of judgment and discretion on his part springing from a very affectionate disposition, and I suppose he has always been accustomed to show it and never conceal his real feelings. You are one of the few persons I ever saw that did not like to be loved and have it shown. Yet you admire Mrs. Hardie's affection for her husband if it does make her in my eyes ridiculous--not the affection but her way of expressing it I mean, for I like to see persons who are fond of each other show it. I have two gentlemen friends who if they meet twice a day will kiss, no matter who is present, and I think their devotion to each other was admired by all who knew them. I liked it, thought it was beautiful because it was unusual. Suppose Mr. A. was to kiss you, what would you do? Did he let you read my letter which was not long and written on small note paper? Matt received a letter of 12 pages I think yesterday giving her a description of the scenery. I told her she ought to have it published the description was so good. Bro. Clem says if her letter is published, he is determined all shall be and will call on me for mine, but we will see whether he gets them or not.

Gen. Johnston of Ky. married first a favorite cousin of my mother, Henrietta Preston, [1] and is I think the same one you speak of, but really I am forgetting myself and you will think only to end this letter which I believe is the worst I have written, but I am not well today and have written hurriedly in order to lie down when it is finished. I hope to get a letter very soon and must ask you to write as often as possible to me, and I will continue to write as frequently as heretofore. But now goodbye.

Ever and affectionately,

Elodie

Footnotes: 
  1. Henrietta Preston (1803-1835) was Albert Sidney Johnston's first wife. She died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-two. For more, see Charles P. Roland, Albert Sidney Johnston, Soldier of Three Republics (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001).
Date: 
June 2, 1861

Author(s)

Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL

Recipient(s)

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

From

From State: 
Alabama
From Municipality: 
From County: 
Dallas

To

To State: 
Virginia
To Municipality: 

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