Harper's Ferry, May 22, 1861

It seems an age since one of your cheering letters has reached me, and I feel much anxiety to hear from your own pen, my own loved Elodie, that it has not been occasioned by indisposition. You last was forwarded from Lynchburg, and I fear from your long silence that something has occurred to interfere with your correspondence. I wrote you from Lynchburg directing you how to address me and as some letters have been received directed here, I am at a loss to know why I am so unfortunate especially as you promised to write me daily.

But I will not permit any views to prevail upon me not to write to you as I know the fault is not yours.

We have a beautiful spring day, and it has been well-employed mid daylight in our various duties. My time is now so much engaged, actively and in study, that I fear it will not be in my power to write you daily, but I will write as frequently as possible, as it is to me an inexpressible pleasure, and I know it gives you pleasure to hear from me. Please tell me whether you have been embarrassed by any requests made of you. If so, I will recall them and leave you to decide upon them at your leisure. I think generally our early marriage preferable to a long engagement, but I will wait for you my dearest to name the time even at the end of seven long, weary years. I ventured to broach the subject, but you reproved me and I held my peace. So you will find me, my loved angel, ever ready to yield my own wishes to yours, and I will always wish you candidly to express them, but I must object to your giving me a dismissal during my absence. I begin to apprehend that you were married on the 18th, as was reported. If you were you should have invited me by telegraph. But joking aside, I do feel very badly about your long silence. I hope that a letter from you will soon solve the mystery.

I took a long walk on the banks of the Potomac this morning. The sun had not long risen and the morning was balmy and beautiful, and I thought of the harmony between the beautiful and placid scenery and the character of my distant but loved angel, Elodie. The river is very shallow and is a continual rapid to Georgetown. The falls here are pretty, and you are all the while within hearing of the murmuring waters. I send you a piece of the mountain pine which is a beautiful tree.

It is touching to see the members of the Cadets singing at night. Last evening at roll call I went out. The moon was shining brightly, and the white tents of the [illegible] Miss. troops with their camp fires presented a picture that I had never seen. A dozen of the young men were grouped together singing "Home Again." The effect upon me was electrical. I realized the fact that I was a thousand miles from you, my own loved Elodie, and my heart felt sick. I have just here received your letter of the 15th inst. You cannot imagine how happy it has made me. I take back all of my querulousness for which I pray your forgiveness.

You must not insist upon your letters being destroyed. I much prefer that they should be returned to you to be kept safely for me, but I am not willing to have such evidences of your love and affection for me consigned to the flames. If anything occurs to me a friend here will see that your letters are returned to you in a packet, but I hope to keep them myself to hold them safely. Mr. Averitt does not know of our engagement, but he knows, from having seen some of your letters delivered, that we correspond, and I have told him that I have obtained your permission to correspond with you. I assure you if the mere compliment of telling you how much your letters are admired by me would induce you to write oftener, I would deal in much more of the article, but I tell you what I think when I say that you are dearer to me than life and that your letters are sweeter far than Madame Sevigne [1] or any other person. For your own sake I think it well for the present that you decline to be married now, but will you tell me that when it can be done with prudence on your part that you will grant my request? You are an angel of love to me, and I hope it will be my privilege to prove how grateful I am to you for having given me your love. There is nothing in my power that I would not do for you and to die for you would be a pleasure. I have pity and contempt both for some of the valiant Blues. Their captain [2] is a double-dealing man for whom I have had a friendship, but it is all forfeited by his recent conduct. Beware of his smiles; they wreathe a hidden poison.

Tomorrow Va. votes upon the ordinance of secession. The troops are waiting here today as many anticipate an attack tomorrow by the Federal troops, probably tonight. I do not fear it, however, as we are now too strong to be easily whipped. We have near 15,000 troops here now, and they come in daily. Col. Duncan and Col. Harmon of Va. had a difficulty today. Col. D. commands the Kentuckians. From what we hear, Ky. will certainly secede. If she does not, I will be very much surprised. Tell Miss Kittie you will claim her and that she must live in Ala. but that I will not promise to let her throw herself away on Col. Ellsworth as she must have a Confederate Col. for her beau. I am anxious for your sake and your family that you should have peace for it must be unpleasant to have them divided.

I am much gratified that your feelings did not let you dance when you heard the rumors of battle at this point. I was much gratified at your mother's letter but did not regard it as a consent and replied to it under that impression, but I do not think she will long hold out against your persuasions for who could resist them.

You must excuse the rambling letters I send you. I will one of these days when I can find a better desk than my trunk endeavor to prepare one at least that will draw from you a compliment. You are indeed chary of compliments. Several very pretty ladies visited us this morning and gave me a basket of cakes. God bless the ladies, they are so kind, but I always tell them that a fair young girl in Ala., far away but much loved, has stolen my heart and that I have nothing to lose here. But they will not believe my candor and call me a flirt. What say you to such an impeachment? The drums are now beating ½ for drill & I must obey. Goodbye sweet angel. May God bless you and soon restore me to my "own affectionate Elodie."

Ever & affectionately yours,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the Marquise de Sévigné, was renowned throughout Western culture as a famed writer of letters.
  2. T. C. Daniels had been a cashier of the Selma Commercial Bank before becoming captain of the "Selma Blues." He was killed at the Battle of Second Manassas. D. M. Scott, "Selma and Dallas County, Ala.," Confederate Veteran 24 (1916): 214-224.
May 22, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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