Harper's Ferry, June 1, 1861

I have just returned to my tent from duty since yesterday morning at 8 o'clock--28 hours, during which time I have been acting as officer of the day and have either been in the saddle or on foot. We are now threatened with the enemy who are in considerable force at Louisville, distant about thirteen miles. Orders have just been issues for all the ladies to leave, with those who are too sick to do duty. Ammunition is also distributed to the different commands. I cannot go to sleep under such circumstances but must write to my loved Elodie to convince her that she has no rival and to tell her, in reply to the question she asks in her letter of 23rd, that my heart is free from any apprehension that I have one. I have too much confidence, my dearest, to doubt for one moment the sincerity and devotion of your feelings for one so little worthy of them as my humble self. I will die, if die I must, thinking of you as one true in all your promises and willing to give my memory a small chamber in your heart. So much upon this subject, and if you are provoked, I hope you will be satisfied that I at least have no idea that I have a rival and further that I flatter myself that I can have no one so formidable as to make me apprehensive.

In my rambling yesterday, I came upon an itinerant ambrotype gallery, and, fancying that you would like to see me an officer of the day in my uniform, I had two likenesses taken. I will send them both to you by Mr. Fiquet, [1] a gentleman of Marion, who will leave the package at Selma with Mr. White. Select the one you like best and please have the other directed to Miss E. M. Dawson, [2] Cahaba, care of Judge Pettus [3] and sent to him by some safe hand. I wish Lizzie to have it as it may be valuable to her in case of any accident to me. You must excuse the common cases, but they were the best he had.

When this letter reaches you, my dearest, the writer, with all his faults, may have fallen. If so remember me as one who loved you more than all the world, who was willing to sacrifice all that you would have him sacrifice to serve you, and who wished to live to make you happy. You must not grieve too much in that event but look forward in time to the bright sun that will be unveiled by the clouds, to the time when you can find in another one worthy of your affections. But you must do what I wish you to do, which will be made known by Judge Pettus.

If no battle takes place, and I live to return to you, this letter will be regarded by you probably as foolish, but if I do not, you will then appreciate it. I write as I feel for you, my dear angel, and I cannot upon the eve of an attack suppress my feelings. They will convince you that I have no rival and that I am as true as a knight errant. The Baltimore Sun of yesterday is full of war news. After reading it, I think a battle will take place at Manassas Junction or at [illegible] before we have one. I think we will beat them in either event, and their defeat at one place will defeat their general plan of operations. But why trouble myself with these reflections. All is involved in uncertainty. I trust in the mercy and goodness of our all-wise God, and I will commend myself to His keeping. In your prayers, my dearest, I know that I am remembered, and it is a source of happiness.

I must not write you more in this strain as it will make you sad to read such a letter, but it is pleasant to breathe into your ear the soft feelings of melancholy which now prevail in my mind. I turn always to you for sympathy. You will always be an angel of hope and happiness.

Now, dearest, goodbye. May God bless and preserve you and make you happy. Believe that I love you so well that none can remove your image from my mind or your love from my heart. Adieu.

Sincerely and affty yours,

N. H. R. Dawson

Evening, June 1.

Our outposts have been driven in. We expect an attack tonight. I pray god to let me go through safely and return me to my own loved Elodie.

Goodbye. God preserve you,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. William Fiquet was born in New York but moved to Marion, Alabama, with his family before the war. Twenty-one years old when the war broke out, Fiquet joined Company G of the Fourth Alabama and died of wounds sustained at the Battle of First Manassas. Alabama Civil War Soldiers Database, Alabama Department of Archives and History.
  2. His daughter, Elizabeth.
  3. Edmund Winston Pettus (1821-1907) was the senior partner in the law firm of Pettus, Pegues, and Dawson. A Mexican-American War veteran, he helped organize the Twentieth Alabama Infantry and ultimately rose to the level of brigadier general, participating in most of the major action of the Western theater, including Stones River, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and the Atlanta and Carolinas campaigns. After the war, Pettus resumed the practice of law in Selma and was named grand dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan in 1877. Partly as a result of his success in organizing the Klan, he was elected U.S. senator in 1897 and 1903. The Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" civil rights engagement, was named for him. Robert W. Dubay, John Jones Pettus, Mississippi Fire-Eater: His Life and Times, 1813-1867 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1975).
June 1, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


From State: 
From Municipality: 


To State: 
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