Todd-Dawson-046

Transcription: 

Selma, June 12, 1861

I received your letter and daguerreotype on Monday which were very welcome altho' not flattering. You are indeed changed if they are faithful resemblances of you now. I would not exchange the small and handsome one given me on your departure for a dozen taken as Officer-of-the-Day. It must be the regimentals that render them, may I say unpleasant for me to look at. I will send the best to Lizzie and think an opportunity will come next week, and now I will have the etiquette to thank you, not only for them but for thinking of me and the pleasure such a gift would afford. Nothing could have pleased me more except receiving the original, which would indeed be enjoyed, but I must content myself with anticipating that happiness no matter how far distant in the future it is to be and admire you the more because you have sacrificed so much in leaving home to go forth and battle for the rights and liberties of your country. It is a just and noble cause and now that you have gone, I am proud of you and would not have desired you to remain at home and idle in the hour of need when your country demanded your services for any consideration. Yet do not infer from this that I regard this profession as the one I would select for you, nor do I intend to be a Kentuckian and think for one moment of being neutral on that subject, else, after a while, when like that state I desire to act, it will then be too late, and, as you have asked me again to select a profession for you, I will make a few remarks but decline making the selection which I insist upon your doing yourself, even if we should disagree in our choice, for your happiness will be more immediately concerned than mine. So long as your country is really in need of your services to defend it from the invasion of an enemy then that profession will do, and I have no objection to it if there is no one to fill your place, tho' I sincerely hope there will never be another vacancy for you in the army. As to a political life, I think almost any choice preferable and more conducive to happiness. It is a life of trials, vexations, and cares, and in the end a grand disappointment to all the views of the politicians himself and those of his friends. What are a few empty honors, and do they compensate when gained for the trouble of a laborious life to please the world, which does, indeed, turn every day--your friends today, your foes tomorrow, ready to tarnish your fair name with any untruth that will serve to promote party purposes? I know my father's life was embittered after the selection of a political life was made by his friends for him and he accepted it, and after all the sacrifices he made for them and to acquire for himself fame and name which lived only a few years after he slumbered in his grave, and it was well he did not live longer to plunge deeper in, for every other life had lost its charm and there was but the one that added, he thought, to his happiness. Yet I am wrong, I expect, to judge all by the few I have known to be otherwise than happy in such a choice as much depends upon disposition, and any life may have proved to have had the same effect. It may be that you would be far happier engaged in this pursuit than any other. You know best. I do not know much on this subject and speak from a little amount of observation and the opinion of friends in whom I place confidence and will only ask you not to laugh and to tell you also that I can like you no matter what profession you follow--’tis not that I love. Why is it that you are always drawing me out, making me render myself ridiculous and exposing my ignorance on subjects fit for your mental faculties? If I were you I would laugh myself over this letter, but you asked me to say, and I did my best and I hope have convinced you of my anxiety to do as you wished for me, for I do not desire else than to be successful in this undertaking and feel myself quite out of my element in assisting you in the choice of a profession which I think is your exclusive right.

Thursday, June 13th.

I have risen an hour or two earlier this morning to finish my letter. Mother would not allow me to sit up last night as I am not well yet and for two or three nights have been compelled to be up until small hours, and you must look upon my early rising as the greatest compliment I could pay you. I was astonished at the information contained in your last letter about myself. Perhaps the writer of that letter to Harper's Ferry has not seen much of me, but circumstances have been such that, with the exception of a few days when indisposition kept me in the house, I have visited daily with my mother or sister and assure you that I am not a recluse, and you need not let this idle rumor trouble you longer, and I am not weak enough to give way to grief in this public manner and when I know it would delight some to be aware that I suffered. The writer must have been one of my good, kind, and knowing friends who always have more knowledge of my own actions than myself and are so interested in me, and I would really like to know who it was and is spying in our camp. Our concert I fear and hope will prove a failure as already there has been two or three difficulties among the troops. Ella Watts and I have concluded to have as little to do with it as possible and nothing if we can avoid it and to keep clear of trouble, do our practicing at home and not with the entire company which have not met but once when they did not quarrel or have some misunderstanding. On Sunday last a large box which contained capes and caps that had been sent on to the Guards and Cadets was returned with the word that it could not go, so all the sewing hurry and etc. was for naught. Mr. Woodson, Mrs. Henden, and Mrs. Woodson left a few days since for Virginia after hearing of the death of their father. I hear it is Mr. W's intention to take the place of a brother in the army who has a large family and will return to them and take charge of his mother's affairs. Selma is constantly losing someone and when a few more families leave for their summer residences will be quite deserted. Mother is beginning to grow impatient and anxious to return to Ky., but we beg her to remain just a little longer as a very short time will decide for that state now, and from all accounts fighting will soon commence there. I tell her that I am not going until Kentucky secedes and am beginning to think now I will never return if I do indeed wait for that event to transpire. No, drooping flags for Ellsworth's death, inviting Major Anderson on, and giving him a public reception in Linville are almost enough to convince one that their sympathy is with the North. I have no desire to have anything more to do with them, for I never can forgive that state for behaving in such a shameful manner. I am one of the most unforgiving creatures you ever knew in my disposition, and if a wrong is done me and I am angered, I can never again be reconciled to the offender, altho' that person may have been my dearest friend. My confidence could never be placed again there, and I could not be persuaded to do anything more than speak to them. Does this not astonish you or did you know me well enough to find it out? I tried to show only the good traits of my character and will only allow you to see by degrees the unpleasant ones if I can keep them sufficiently under my control.

You asked me who Dr. Rodman was: Why he is just one of the noblest and best of men and my friend. He has been for several years our physician and is partial to our family, especially your honorable writer whom I am proud to say is his favorite and values and appreciates his friendship. I have no relation interested in my future welfare and many not so much so.

I have just received your letter of June 4th in which you mention having received from me but nine letters. I know of twelve and think I have written more but will not positively assert the fact of having sent more than twelve. They have always been so long that you should count each one as two. I will make with pleasurable willingness a cap for you but cannot understand from the mention of [the] hood how I am to make it. If you will take a newspaper [and] your scissors and cut me a pattern and tell me what to make it of--silk, merino, or velvet--I will do so and think I can send it on without trouble. If you are unable to send me the pattern, a drawing will do with as good a description as you are capable of giving. What is your favorite color, or what color would you prefer for this cap?

You mention my reading you such a lecture in my letter of the 23rd. Please return the letter to me so that I may see what I did write. I have no copy and have a poor memory and have puzzled my brain trying in vain to recall any portion of that letter, which indicates the Todd. What will you think of this? I have been engaged for two or three hours practicing for the concert. My fingers and throat fairly ache. Mrs. Lumpte and I have a duet (instrumental) together and I have a vocal duet. I have refused to sing alone or do anything more than to take part in these two duets, and if I could well avoid doing so would take no part. I wish as it is for the benefit of the absent soldiers, you could be here to attend. I think I would take some interest then. Today was appointed by our president for fasting and prayer. My intention was to attend church, but as the morning was warm concluded to go this evening, and just as I was ready to start company came in and prevented me doing so. Mother promised to do my share tonight while I remained at home to write to you. Willie today heard me say I was going to church this evening to pray for the soldiers and came and put his arms around me and begged to go with me. I promised provided he would add his prayers and tell me what he intended to say. He replied immediately, Aunt Dee I'll pray to God to give Mr. Averitt Bread every day and Captain Dawson Butter. It was the best thing he knew of to pray for. He often speaks of you and Mr. A. also, whom he imagines is my sweetheart and tells persons so who ask him questions pertaining to that subject the same thing. I am much obliged to you for all your promises, but am terribly afraid of promising people. Just do, without the former, what you have already said, and I'll ask no more. I will make no promises myself but try to do what is right and my duty and hope I may add to your happiness. Mr. Wetmore has not sent your photograph yet. He told me a night or two since it was not completed. I told him to hurry it up for I was very anxious to have it in my possession, that I intended having it myself, not Mrs. White. He looked surprised and remarked, "Are you in earnest?," but did not seem to believe me. You see when I begin a letter to you I never know when to stop. All ask me what on earth I find to say, and they feel so sorry for you that it must be a task, between the writing and length, not very pleasant. I feel sorry for you too and will prove it by stopping my pen, and before doing so want to know what is the matter with my signature that you quote it on so many occasions. I am going to avoid putting any if your offence is again repeated, but indeed I must stop. Hoping soon to hear again from you and that God will spare you granting a safe and speedy return to your,

Attached,

Elodie

Date: 
June 12, 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: 

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