Todd-Dawson-052

Transcription: 

Winchester, Virginia, June 19, 1861

I wrote you from Harper’s Ferry, my dear Elodie, that I had written to Mr. and Mrs. Matthews of our engagement. Yesterday I received a reply which has gratified me very much, and I extract so much of his letter as refers to the subject for your perusal. He writes:

“We appreciate fully your kind and respectful attention in making known to us the fact of your expected marriage. You may rest assured that we will have every disposition to love anyone whom you do and that we will make every endeavor to gain her love. You are certainly correct when you say that in taking this step you exhibit no want of respect for the memory of any one dead or for any one living. I have no doubt that it will not only increase your happiness in life, but, I think, it is necessary to your having any at all. As you know, I have no acquaintance with the young lady but should your arrangements go on to consummation, I think that we shall love her and be able to obtain her love and respect also. Certainly nothing shall be wanting on our part to attain an end so much to be desired by us.”

This is what I expected of them, and I know you will love them next to your own family as long as we may live. You will find no better friends than this noble pair.

We are still at our encampment but expect to move nearer to the city as soon as gen. quarters are prepared for our division. I have been resting and am much refreshed this morning.

I have read over your letter of 7th frequently, and if you knew how much pleasure your letters always give you would not threaten to curtail them. I do not agree with you in opinion as to their style. I like you to be egotistical as you can speaking of nothing to me so interesting as yourself. Indeed, I want your letters to be a reflex of your own dear self. Speak to me of all your cares, and if you have sorrows and troubles divide them with one whose love for you is sincere and earnest. But, dearest, I would have your pathway thro; life strewed with roses, no thorns to remind you even of the liability of our nature to pain and disease. I have met with an old friend, Captain M. Gueder, of one of the Georgia Regiments. He once lived in Selma as a private tutor for Maj. Haden. He told me that he was married to his wife one day and left with his company the next, but he is fortunate in having his father in this state, at whose house he left her.

I hope circumstances will yet allow us before the expiration of a year to be married as it is very trying to both of us to be separated so long. I hope that Mr. Lincoln’s congress will have more wisdom than he has shown and will agree to let us alone. Our preparations are so rapidly developing that we will then be able to cope with them on equal terms, and they will certainly see the impossibility of subjugating us. I got a letter from Mr. Wetmore yesterday dated 12 in which he tells me of the delivery of my message for Mr. White and says you will claim the photograph as a remembrance of one who was once a friend. He thinks you were glad to hear of the likeness, tho he says no person believes the report of our engagement, tho he evidently thinks I am smitten with so fair and striking a lady. He has often told me that you were the star of Selma and that he advised me to address you.

You certainly should not object to my sharing the love of your friends, for I want you to have all of mine to love you, and nothing will give me more pleasure than to see you loved by all of them. You are also mistaken is supposing that you have fewer friends than I have. I never heard any one speak except in the kindest terms of you, and I know if you try you can win the love of all where appreciation is desirable. If my friends don’t love you, they must cease to love me.

Mrs. Mabry sent me recently a package of papers with her friendly regards. You must not be surprised to hear from Miss Gertrude that I had written a note to her mother returning my thanks. Have you ever settled with Miss Gertrude whether she should be allowed to look over the way to my place? That was a most politic strategy and would have recommended you in the age of Louis XIV to his great Minister Richelieu.

I have just heard that one half of our force has been sent to [] at the terminus of the railroad to Manassas Junction. I do not know what this indicates unless the Confederates intend to concentrate at that point. If we move, I will inform you immediately, though I hardly think it probable. Gen. Johnston seems determined to keep us on the alert and moving all the time. The walking is very fatiguing to me, and if we are to have so much of it I will have to get a discharge and then I will walk home rapidly to see you. You have no idea how much I am troubled by our separation. I feel it as visibly as if you were Mrs. Dawson and I your liege lord. But hereafter when these trials have passed, we will know how fortunate we are in being with each other. You know trials draw persons nearer to each other, and the farther we are separated the nearer and closer we are drawn to each other. This is the case, I think, for I know circumstances have made me love you more than I dreamed that I was capable of. I will say nothing more about your controlling me as it seems that you doubt my sincerity but will await the []. A man whose wife has no control over him is in my opinion a worthless fellow. I do not mean certainly that he should be subject to a despotic rule but a rule of love and of reason. Such an influence I will desire you to have on me. But all these points of diplomatic arrangements had better be left to time and circumstances. You no doubt think me a singular man. But this you will say, that I am a very loving one and if I keep my promises will make an excellent husband. You most certainly have been entirely immersed in the concert not to have written since the 7th inst. I received no letter this morning but will expect one tomorrow with the proceedings of the concert.

And now, my dearest, I will say goodbye. May God keep and protect you and soon restore us to each other.

Every sincerely and affecionately yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

Date: 
June 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: 
Virginia
From Municipality: 
From County: 
Frederick

To

To State: 
Alabama
To Municipality: 
To County: 
Dallas

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