Atlanta, April 28, 1861

I wrote you a few hurried lines, my own dear Elodie, from Newnan this morning, but you will not blame me for turning twice in the same day to the Mecca of all my hopes, again to convene with the gentle being whose life is a part of my own. [1]

The excitement and enthusiasm of the people is very great. At every station we have been cheered and bouquets of flowers and the smiles of fair women, maids and matrons, have bid us God speed. Many of the flowers have mottoes attached. I enclose you a piece of rosemary & the motto that accompanied it. [2] Our flag met with a serious accident this morning as we entered the city. The staff was broken, but I am glad to say that the flag is uninjured. [3]

After writing you at Newnan, a large band of citizens came down to the station and as the [illegible] train came in, called vociferously for myself and others. I made a speech, which I am vain enough to tell you was loudly cheered. Col. Keitt of So. Ca., Mr Howe of Miss, Mr Stone of the Cadets also replied in eloquent remarks. [4] We leave at 6 o'clock on train for Dalton, where we organize a regiment and elect our regimental officers.

You must excuse me for writing you so often, but it is a great pleasure to speak with you, and unless you command me otherwise, I will continue to do so until my duties will prevent me.

Please present me very kindly to Mr. and Mrs. White [5] and to your brother.

Have I sent you any flowers since my departure? Will you not write me at Lynchburg? Tell me how much I am missed? And now goodbye. God bless and protect you and give me a safe return to my own dear Elodie

Your attached,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia, is regarded as the holiest city in Islamic religion. As the birthplace of Muhammad and revelation site of the Quran, all able-bodied Muslims are encouraged to complete a pilgrimage to this city in their lifetime.
  2. Nathaniel routinely sent Elodie little tokens of his affection from camp and battlefield--pressed flowers, leaves, pebbles, scraps of material, a lock of hair, a bit of gold lace from his sword belt, and so on--most of which survive in the collection.
  3. The flag Elodie and her sister sewed still survives and is held by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Ala.
  4. Laurence Massillon Keitt (1824-1864) was a former U.S. congressman from South Carolina perhaps most famous for his role in the caning of Charles Sumner. When Preston Brooks began the attack, Keitt jumped in the aisle, drew a pistol, and announced, "Let them be!" He served as a delegate from South Carolina during the creation of the Confederate Constitution and was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864. For more, see Holt Merchant, South Carolina Fire-Eater: The Life of Laurence Massillion Keitt, 1824-1864 (Columbia: University of South Carolina), 2014. Mr. Howe is probably Chiliab Smith Howe (1809-1875), of Marengo County, Alabama, who married the daughter of U.S. congressman and Alabama governor Israel Pickens. For more, see the Chiliab Smith Howe Papers, 1814-1899, #3092, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Stone is possibly private John H. Stone, age thirty-four, though there are other Stones in the Magnolia Cadets (one of whom dies at Manassas). 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Marion, Perry, Ala.
  5. Nathaniel is referring to Elodie and her sister Martha, who made the flag. The "hostess of the White House" is Elodie's sister Mary Todd Lincoln.
April 28, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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