Todd-Dawson-075

Transcription: 

Selma, July 23, 1861

I wrote you a day or two since, but I cannot refrain from writing to tell, or try to do, my joy and happiness that you have escaped unhurt. Early this morning I sent to town a servant with orders not to return until he brought me news from the battle, which we received intelligence of late yesterday evening. He has just returned bringing me the telegram from yourself and Captain Goldsby relieving by it the anxiety of many hours. I was surprised and distressed when I heard of a battle being fought and you were engaged in it and could do nothing but grieve and anticipate the worst and trembled so violently that for several moments I was incapable of reading the dispatch until with a desperate effort I overcame it somewhat and opened it, my mind prepared to receive the worst. But imagine my joy if you can which possessed me when I read of your safety and the slight loss sustained by the Cadets and Guards. Would that you could now return and escape further exposure from such dangers, and this glorious victory, dearer to me because your noble heart and brave courageous arm helped to gain it, would satisfy our enemies and woo gentle peace to diffuse her gentle smiles again over our beloved country. Will they longer continue this terrible war, more so to them than us, even when they and we must believe god is one our side fighting for us against their wicked schemes and devices? Surely they have suffered enough and should be willing to cease hostilities.

As much as I thought I loved you, and you were dear to me yet, it was not until yesterday and today which has caused me to realize the devotedness and depth of the love that is in my heart for you and how crushed and torn it would have been had you been snatched from me by death's relentless hand or how darkened future anticipations which blessed by your love were adorned with the very tints of brightness and beauty, and it is with a thankful heart that I write and hear of your safety while too many others, more deserving of mercy than I, are sorrowing over their loved dead. Would I could see for a short time and hear from your lips all that has transpired I would indeed be happy. As it is, if the intelligence contained in your last letter be true, my face will brighten much sooner at your return than dared I hope for or thought of, and then you will never leave me again or go where I cannot with you. You ask me how I would like to travel in Europe. Why of course exceedingly, tho I could content myself with the idea very well that I would never see any country but America, which to enjoy all it affords is enough for anyone. Don't you think so?

I see from today's paper Mrs. Lincoln is indignant at my Bro. David's being in the Confederate service and declares "that by no word or act of hers should he escape punishment for his treason against her husband's government should he fall into their hands." I do not believe she ever said it and if she did and meant it she is no longer a sister of mine nor deserves to be called a woman of nobleness and truth and God grant my noble and brave-hearted brother will never fall into their hands and have to suffer death twice over, and he could do nothing which could make me prouder of him than he is doing now, fighting for his country. What would she do to me, do you suppose? I have as much to answer for.

Perhaps Mr. Averitt took my letter to him for a sample of the best I could do and wished you to see the contrast in letter writing and his lady love's superiority to your's, and you did not like to return the confidence or compliment, for I am ashamed of being so poor a scribe myself and certainly would not blame you for thinking so, but as you are satisfied I don't care what Mr. or Miss Anybody thinks of them or about them. No, I am not astonished that a gentleman of your delicacy and refinement would hesitate to read the letter of a lady, no matter if her lover had no hesitancy in urging you to do so and think the possession of such feeling should not only be appreciated but encouraged and admired as very proper. Speaking of lovers and etc. reminds me, Mr. T. Hall is to be married tomorrow night to Miss Coleman down on the river somewhere. Mr. Hagood and Hobbs, the attendants. Today I had sent me three baskets of fruit, two of which contained peaches and grapes, also two melons sent. Am I not in luck? But it has struck eleven, and I must say goodby and finish in the morning.

Wednesday morning, July 24, 1861

You ask among my list of friends your standing. Is it possible that I must tell that you are my friend and stand alone upon a list, receiving my love and admiration and esteem, while others I place together on another as friends, liking them with different degrees of affection and think of them in connection? Does my explanation of your position satisfy you?

Have you seen the speech of Vallandigham [1] of Ohio, and do you not like the courage, candor, and intellect of the man? I read some portions with interest and would have liked to have shaken him by the hand because he dared to speak his feelings openly and avowed his principles and even let them know that Mr. Lincoln had acted unconstitutionally. Many of the business houses were closed here yesterday. I understand after the news and deaths reached here also that Major Hayden and some other gentlemen had in their uneasiness gone on to Virginia. Mr. Hagood told me he came very near going, thinking his services would be acceptable as nurse, and I think perhaps if Bro. Clem had been at home he would have done so as Selma just at this time is misery to him. I wish he had and would have had to fight or run before he returned. Did I speak too hastily in regard to the flag? I was vexed at Mr. and not the young lady. I cannot govern my temper or tongue, and when I am angry say much that I am very sorry for afterwards and altho speak my feelings at the time, change them when I get a little cooler, but it is just the same next time. Mother has always predicted that my temper and tongue would get me into trouble, but I say no and if it does, I will stand up to what it utters. We heard from her yesterday. She was still in Nashville and must enjoy her visit among persons she has known for so many years. I am expecting Matt back today and will be glad to see her. I miss her so much as we are always together and more company for each other than for anyone else, and she thinks so much alike in disposition, but I think us totally unlike as any two sisters I ever saw in disposition but resemble each other somewhat in appearance. You should see me sitting up knitting in the evening. It would amuse you. I only need glasses and a cap to make me an old lady, and I have [tried] on mother's and imagine I will be a very nice one but could never keep a straight enough countenance to judge well. Be sure and pick me out some small somebody that won't require much work as I am terribly opposed to doing anything I can help and am sure nothing but great love of country and free speech could have induced me to do so much. It will be three months on Friday next since you left, and on the 19th we were engaged the same number. Don't you feel ashamed to forget and don't I feel bad that you did. What a poor compliment for a soldier. I think you had better seek the acquaintance of some lady, else I think your conduct by end of 12 months, if you continue to be so ungallant, will vex me considerably. But don't get too much interested, for I would not give you up to any one no matter how much later was their claim. You belong to me, and I mean to keep you. Please bear this in mind. But here I am without room for another word and think I had better try and finish. I shall expect a long letter soon giving me a glowing tho doubtless sad account of the battle at Manassas Junction. But goodbye. May God still bless and keep you is ever the prayer of your affectionate,

Elodie

Footnotes: 
  1. Clement Laird Vallandigham (1820-1871) was a congressman from Ohio and leader of the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party. On July 10 he delivered a speech titled "Executive Usurpation" in which he lambasted Lincoln for "the wicked and hazardous experiment of calling thirty millions of people into arms . . . without the counsel and authority of Congress." For more, see Dan Monroe and Bruce Tap, Shapers of the Great Debate on the Civil War: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2005), 301-320.
Date: 
July 23, 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: 
To County: 
Prince William

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