Dalton, April 30, 1861

Mr. Averitt [1] brought me last night, my own dear Elodie, your beautiful and acceptable present with your sweet note accompanying it. The merest trifle from you is valuable, but how much more is one which testifies how much you are interested in my welfare.

Is it painful for you to think of me? I so much regret that you should feel badly on my account, and yet it is flattering to know that there is one heart where I am enthroned, which responds to its pulsations and beats in unison with mine. You say that I am thoughtful of you to the last. How could I be less selfish in thinking of you? I was doing a kindness to myself. I have just left my encampment and had to turn away to suppress my feelings. A party in one of the tents were singing the Southern Cross to the air of the Star Spangle Banner, accompanied by the violins. The music reminded me of the last evening I saw you. I lingered at the gate and heard you play on the piano, and I was almost overpowered. The world gives me credit for having no feelings but those of selfishness. I am so happy that you know better, that you have seen into the chambers of my heart and have recognized feelings there that have won your affections. I have been requested on all sides to run for colonel and lieutenant colonel of the regiment. The latter position I could easily get, but though the temptation has been strong, I have resisted it and, at the solicitation of my company, have declined either position. I was anxious to accept as I thought it would please my Elodie to see me and have me so highly honored, but a sense of duty to the young men who have been attracted to me has required me to make this sacrifice. What do you think of it?

I wish you could peep into my quarters, a room with trunks, boxes, and blankets all over, without a chair or convenience of any kind. I sleep on the floor with two blanks and a piece of wood as a pillow. Yet I am as well as I ever was and eat with great relish the rations of bread and bacon which comprise our food.

Mr. A. [2] will act as the correspondent of the cadets and will keep you advised thro' the pen of this camp life, which will save me the necessity of telling you subsequently, but I do not feel satisfied unless I write you as often as I can.

I hear that your brother [3] has an idea of coming on and joining the guards. If he does come on, will he not take a place in my company and in my mess, but I would advise him not to join the ranks as a private. The duties are very tedious, he would not like them. A gentleman must feel the position irksome. We will not leave here for several days yet as the companies are not prepared fully.

Write me at once to Lynchburg Va. Fear not to write me as you feel. It will be flattering to hear from your own lips the words and cares of your heart. I would give all the world to be safely returned and the husband of your affections. Do you know I see thro' the darkness of the present the bright star of future happiness. Good bye. God bless and protect you always is the constant prayer of you own


N. H. R. Dawson

  1. James Battle Avirett (1835-1912) was the son of Serana Thomas and John Alfred Averitt. Avirett (who adopted a different spelling of his name, though Nathaniel always used the original) graduated from North Carolina University in 1852 and practiced law until 1858, when he began to study for the ministry. During the war, he became chaplain of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry. Afterward, he conducted an Episcopal seminary for young ladies, served as rector for multiple churches, and authored four published works. In 1862 he married Mary Louise Dunbar Williams, of Winchester, Virginia; they had two sons before his death on February 16, 1912. Tucker Reed Littleton, "James Battle Avirett," in Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 1, A-C, ed. William S. Powell (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979).
  2. Mr. A. is James Averitt.
  3. Most probably Nathaniel is referring to Elodie's brother David, who was the most anxious to get into the Confederate army.
April 30, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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