Harper’s Ferry, May 15, 1861

I hardly feel well enough to write two lines to my dear Elodie this morning, but as I am in my room alone, I will attempt it as a panacea and relief. My cold has not improved much since yesterday, and I am suffering from the effects of a large dose of [] powders. When the feeling wears away, I hope nature will resume her power, and I will rapidly recuperate.

We are quartered in one of the government buildings, and I have one room for the officers. We sleep upon our blankets on the floor. Really the comforts of home seem to be creations of a diseased imagination and are perfectly fabulous. Oh for an hour in my cozy library, and how much do I pray for that hour soon to arrive when you will be there to soothe and comfort my burdened spirit. At such an hour as this, when an invalid, the true want of woman is felt. You remember the lines of [ ]: Oh woman in an hour of care / When pain and anguish wring the brow / A ministering angel thou. [1] For one touch of your soft hand upon my feverish what would I not give, to be near you, to see your gentle smile, to hear your voice in accents of kindness and of love, to feel that there was one present whose heart was wholly mine, would be the greatest of all earthly blessings.

Just here I was interrupted by Col. Law, Capt. Tracy, and Capt. Geldily coming in to see me. I have no reason to complain of my comrades as they all seem to like me.

The mail has just been received but no letter from my loved Elodie to cheer the weary moments. Next to seeing you, your letters are the greatest source of comfort to me, and I hope you will not fear to trouble me too frequently. I feel upon this subject as you do, and we must follow the golden rule.

I have seen nothing yet of Harper’s Ferry. As soon as our tents come in we will be removed up on one of the mountains. Several spies have been arrested and are to be tried this evening. One of them acknowledged his guilt and will be hung. A large number of troops came last night and this morning. All sorts of rumors are afloat. I do not anticipate an attack soon. We have today 10,000 men who can hold the place against twice the number, and it would be folly to attempt it.

It seems from all I can hear that the people of Selma are terribly and unnecessarily frightened. While thinking so much of their own safely, they might turn their thoughts to those who are in danger and who are exposed to all kinds of privations. Some of their sympathy might be well spent in furnishing necessary articles of clothing to the Guards and Cadets, but I presume that the Blues engage all of their attention at this time. They certainly have not deserved it and will never recover from their conduct. But you will think me querulous if I persist in this strain, but out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.

I must now conclude, my own loved and dearest Elodie and tell you goodbye. How frequently are you the vision of my dreams, how seldom does a moment pass that your image is not near. Do you value such devotion and love from one whom the world might say was incapable of loving, whose heart is said to be never opened to any but selfish ends? Oh dearest, I hope you will not discover too late that you have misplaced your confidence. Goodbye. May God bless and reward you for all your virtues. Pray for me in all of your meditations.

Ever and sincerely yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

  1. He is quoting from Walter Scott’s poem Marmion (1808).
May 15, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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