Selma, May 26, 1861

I was very busily engaged sewing on an oilcloth cloak for the Cadets yesterday when your letter was handed me. Altho’ I was thinking of you at the moment, it had not occurred to me that the mail had arrived. Today upon my return from church I received another. You do not know how relieved and comparatively happy I feel whenever I am the recipient of a letter from you. Rumors were afloat yesterday here that fighting had commenced, and altho’ I tried to banish such thoughts, I could not and felt sad all day and your letter was not calculated to improve my feeling as you wrote so much of your dying. Do pray cease that strain. I think often enough of the worst and that I shall never see you again, yet I cannot regard it as you do, calmly and am far from being prepared for it, and I hope god will never call upon me to bear it for I believe myself to be perfectly incapable of doing so for it is a hard trial to bear your absence even connected with the though and hope of meeting again and bright anticipations of future happiness. In the past month I have awakened to the reality that I am living a life which like other girls I had dreamed and thought of perhaps but far in the future with no definite time for the realization of such fancies, yet the difference is that then all was sunshine without a cloud to overshadow or pang to mar my happiness. Now the sky is clouded and but a faint ray of sunshine occasionally relieving the darkened aspect. However with other things to write you of and time passing so rapidly this evening I must not allow longer indulgence in such a strain to myself.

I am just at this time very much interested in the sewing now being done for the Guards and Cadets and often am indignant when I hear a lady say. “I do not think all this is necessary for so and so received a letter from a Guard or Cadet saying they were very comfortable,” when I know it was no fault of their if the two companies have a few comforts and were I a citizen of Selma would be ashamed to say that soldiers had to go elsewhere to have things provided for their comfort. Now I wish you to write to Major H. or some gentleman and say what you do need and how much for it you and Capt. G. hesitate they will commence immediately to sew for the Blues, and they are less deserving of this consideration and notice according to opinion than any company I know of. Yesterday there was 111 caps of merino for a company from Perryville. I do not know the use of them but will make some for your company if they are useful and you wish. It is thought they keep the sun off, but from the style I think it impossible and doubtful as those made here are like smoking caps and without capes, but the Blues had them and one gentleman in that company had I heard 21 sent to him. Fortunate man, but a Blue. He would never have received but one if I had had my control over matters, for the twenty would have been taken from him and put in a box for one of the other companies. When Capt. Kent arrived in Montgomery he was so angry at finding himself placed in a regiment of regulars that very serious ideas of returning entertained the head of our insulated and chivalrous Blues. What think you of that? But I forget myself when writing spitefully of them that you were their first captain and owe their training to you do they not? But I don’t like them anyhow.

Saturday we received a letter from my Bro. [1] at Pensacola. He writes everything is very quiet there and that they know nothing of what is going on in their midst and are forbidden to give what information they possess. Today a letter came from my Bro. David who is in Raleigh, N.C. but gives us no intelligence more than we are apprized of by the papers. Another from my sister Mary [2] to whom I had written informing her of my engagement. She receives the news seriously and writes me a long letter on the subject of matrimony and adjoins me that I am a great deal better off as I am. She ought to know as she committed the fatal step years ago, and I believe another such letter would almost make me abandon the idea. Do you believe it? Mother says, "do tell your captain I have no intention of writing to him again nor will I make any more objections seeing you are determined and there is no chance of persuading you from it as he has filled your head with ideas that I have been all my life trying to keep you from possessing." I am much obliged to you capt. for suggesting the thoughts.

This morning before going to church Miss Truitt sent me with her love a magnolia, the first I ever saw and I think it so beautiful that I have been in raptures over it. A day or two since Mrs. Mabry sent me a bouquet. I cannot account for their kindness but nevertheless am I grateful for it is pleasant to be thought of and remembered. I ought to recollect how little it takes to give pleasure and that often I have it in my power to do so but am too selfish to trouble myself but will try and profit by Miss T's example. I think she must be in every respect one of the most lovely and gentle of girls, and I regret I do not see more of her as her presence might influence me to do better. Indeed Capt. Dawson when you write to me expressing your belief that I am faultless, good, and etc. I really feel hurt because I cannot bring myself to believing you really think so yet am far from thinking you untruthful, only I am afraid that absent from me you think of me as I should be rather than what I am, and surely if you do entertain at all times the thoughts you express you will be sadly, sadly disappointed in very many respects. You need not think I am modest and do not appreciate myself because such is not the case, and I wish you knew something of me. I would not like all faults to be seen, only wish you to be aware that I am human but not on the lookout for what you will see. I am thinking of going to Summerfield [3] and vicinity for a visit of perhaps two weeks. I may go Saturday but will write again before I depart. Your letters will be sent to me, but I don't know that you will hear often from me as I imagine I will have a poor opportunity of writing while absent. I do not know why my letters did not reach you unless they went to Washington for I declare I have written three times a week ever since you left. I am much obliged for the flowers you send and will put them away, also for you description of Harper's Ferry which must satisfy me as I would neither venture to send for your views or take advantage of your kind invitation to possess myself of the quiet of your library to write you nicer and more entertaining letters. I am but a poor scribe at best, and you must content yourself with what I send, knowing I would be delighted to do better. I must now finish this letter for I am obliged to write another this evening but will promise you a long one again day after tomorrow and add all I have forgotten this time. Now goodbye. Write to me soon a long letter and believe me ever yrs affectionately,


  1. Samuel Brown Todd (1830-1862) attended Centre College and then moved to New Orleans after his father's death in 1849. There he married Clelie Cecile Royer and clerked for her father, a French gardener. Sam joined the Confederate army as a private and was sent to Pensacola. He was later killed at the Battle of Shiloh. See Berry, House of Abraham, 115-117.
  2. Neither letter to or from Mary Lincoln survives in any known collection.
  3. Summerfield, Alabama, is a town eight miles due north of Selma, also in Dallas County. In the Civil War era, it was most noted for its Centenary Institute, a school operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Anson West, A History of Methodism in Alabama (Nashville: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1893), 726.
May 26, 1861


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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


From State: 
From Municipality: 
From County: 


To State: 
To Municipality: 

Transcription/Proofing Info

Transcription Date: 
Proof Date: 

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory