Todd-Dawson-049

Transcription: 

Selma, June 16, 1861

Altho but a day or two has passed since I wrote you last, I have become so accustomed to employ a part of my Sabbath writing to you that almost unconsciously I begin to collect my writing materials preparatory to commencing this letter. I have felt no compunction of conscience for all my Sunday letters to you yet, for I cannot think I am committing a sin when I just take a little quiet chat with you on paper, yet Mother cannot reconcile herself to seeing me do so, and I never remember to have seen her do such a thing in my life, and I always go away from her when I wish to indulge myself. Yesterday I received two letters from you and I did not expect any was pleasantly surprised and found one more agreeable than the other for two reasons. I refer to one in which you make choice of a profession, and speak cheerfully of the future losing sight of the battlefield. I had just written you a lengthy article on the subject of professions which will no doubt prove amusing to you, but as we agree in the selection I am satisfied and think you exhibit the fine intellect I have given you credit for. You have indeed proved yourself a wise, prudent, proper man in some things, but I can tell you better after a while whether I consider myself fortunate or not in entrapping you and escaping Mr. J. whom I never stood in danger of. I do not believe it is my Mr. J. but an elder brother who is I know very wild and has caused the family much trouble and unhappiness, a namesake of his Father's. Did I ever tell you anything concerning the gentleman? Or how did you know he and I were acquaintances? I have a most unfortunate memory and have no recollection of ever having to you mentioned his name.

Last evening Kittie, Matt, and myself spent at Mrs. Mabry's, who had a little musical soiree--Dr. and Mrs. LeComte, Mr. and Mrs. Wetmore, Bro. Clem and T. J. Smith making the party. I have spent an evening or two there very pleasantly but thought last night was one of the dullest and stiffest I ever spent in Selma. The company did not appear congenial, certainly not Mr. L. and myself, who were thrown together. His feelings are all with the North I am positive and can read him altho he thinks himself no doubt very smart in hiding up his sentiments, and I cannot meet him unless he commences on the subject of politics, and I do not forget to mention Mr. J. C. Breckenridge and have him my model for politicians and choice and hope for President of the Confederate States. This hurts a leetle as he does so greatly enjoy hating Mr. B., and his face tells what his tongue does not. I am not more partial to him than most of the young ladies and fear [I] do not treat him with the same politeness. Mr. Shortridge keeps him informed of affairs at Harper's Ferry, and he is always asking me when I heard, but surely I can find a more agreeable subject of conversation than this gentleman and will not entertain you longer with him.

Yesterday morning two large boxes were packed and sent on by a gentleman named Davidson for the Cadets and Guards, and I trust they will go safely. I cannot understand how they will be intercepted and such seems to be the fear here. Bro. Clem received your letter and will do as you desire. I am so glad that he did not go to Virginia as he is so unwell, quite thin and feeble, and I think he would have been sent back. His only Brother is now on a visit to him and has with him his wife, and as they have not met for some time they really enjoy each other's society and act as I imagine they did as children, so affectionate and kind in their manner to each other. I think to see an affectionate family one of the most beautiful sights in the world and yet one that is rare, tho' it seems strange that anything else should be, and I think it is a characteristic of many families never to know what they feel. We have always been happy together and never knew what the feeling was that prompted others to always seek happiness from home and to feel miserable when compelled to remain there. I love to visit sociably and think it is right to do so but believe I can content myself at home as well as most persons and have now a good opportunity to learn as soon Selma will be almost deserted and there will be so few places to visit when one is seized with the inclination.

My mother speaks of returning to Kentucky in two or three weeks. I really do not feel as tho' it will be safe for her to return and dread the summer here for her. I do not intend returning with her as I feel safe and secure in this portion of the world and Ky. has not yet seceded nor have I now any hope that she will. Having heard some gentlemen conversing on the never-ending subject of war a short time since, I was surprised that they spoke so freely of Col. Jones as being totally unfitted for the position he occupies and what a terrible thing it would be if they should have a fight at Harper's Ferry as was now daily expected, for no other fate but being cut to pieces awaited the 4th Regiment if he commanded or else they would disgrace themselves by running. Just imagine how I feel when so often persons speak in this manner before me and are watching my face all the time thinking I'll betray myself perhaps, and now since this conversation I have felt worse than before and am dreading to hear from a battle in which you must take part as your chances are worse than those who are well commanded, and I am so far from being a Spartan [1] that if you were here and I could influence you to remain at home, I would not hesitate to do so. I am getting selfish and do not see why some should be called upon to make so many more sacrifices than others. There are even some here who have all left to them that they possessed before these troubles began and whose mind or happiness is not disturbed by the absence of a very dear friend, and they think every man should go. Alla Parkman [2] remarked the same thing to me. I told her I noticed those whose relations remained behind generally spoke in that way, but when the time came that would cause her to part with a brother and those she loved then she could not say the same. I have passed thro' the ordeal and knew and would be willing to push the kin of others off to keep my own at home too. I really felt angry at her for speaking in that way and knew she was not sincere in doing so for when Johnny [3]cspoke of going, and you know he was not in earnest, Alla nearly wept herself away when war was mentioned in her presence. I miss you more now and feel worse than I did when you first left, and I am growing so impatient to have the question settled at once, one way or another, and if there must be fighting I want it over. Of course, if you had not mentioned the subject you did to me before leaving, I would have been spared all this anxiety, at least no other thoughts than those that I possess sometimes for acquaintances to whom I am not entirely indifferent would I ever have entertained for you, but I am willing & prefer to suffer suspense and anxiety as you tell me it adds to your happiness. Yet were you never permitted to return, I am afraid, indeed I know, I could not bear the trial as I should and bow my head to the decree of an all wise, just and merciful God without murmuring, and I hope no such trouble is in store for me, for if I find the thought unbearable, what would be the trial? I would be perfectly satisfied with life then, but I am writing to you this, altho you told me you liked sad letters and wished me to write as I felt, but were I to attempt to give expression to one half my thoughts, I would find it utterly impossible and give up the task in despair for I scarcely allow myself to think all I do feel.

I do not regret your having told Mr. Averitt all, for seldom have I ever met another for whom I formed a greater friendship, and there is no telling what the consequences might have been if I had not believed him engaged and you not made your appearance in the right time, as I liked him better every time I met him. He suspected so much that you could have had very little to have informed him of. He has never answered my letter, perhaps has never received it. I am spared some annoyance, as I would not like to have his letter remain unanswered, and yet would not answer them as you prefer my not doing so. I am glad that you find my letters pleasing and will be more anxious now than ever to write as you say you derive pleasure from them. You must indeed see thro' kindly glasses and make all due allowances for me, and I am so much obliged to you for I believe if I had plenty to relate I could do no better. I never liked to write and cannot take the trouble and pains to compose, and write just as I talk, running as rapidly from one subject to another as always. I have not made my trip to Summerfield yet but will do so after the concert which will take place Thursday or Friday night and will write you from there as here. I hope you have not taken any more naps over your Bible, but read it as I gave it to you for that purpose, thinking if you did your Company would imitate your example and that you would all be a pious, religious set and could offer up prayers for yourselves for I really believe they even pray more for the Blues than for the other companies. But I see my page is almost filled, and this will be a long enough letter this time, and I will stop, hoping to receive often long letters, that peace may be restored, and that you will return safely and speedily to your affectionate,

Elodie

Footnotes: 
  1. Spartans choose their brides for their physical sturdiness and warlike character.
  2. Alla Parkman, age nineteen, of Selma, was the daughter of M. R. Parkman, age fifty. Her twenty-three-year-old brother James M. Parkman is listed as head of the household. 1860 Census: Selma.
  3. John M. Parkman was the older brother of Alla Parkman. 1860 Census: Selma.
Date: 
June 16, 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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