Harper’s Ferry, June 8, 1861

Your long and welcome letter of 26 and 27th ulto. was received this morning. I thank you, my dear Elodie, for the assurances you give of your continued and abiding affection, and I wish it was in my power to express in befitting language the deep emotions of my heart and that it may come into my power to give you in return something beside the poor homage of my love. I look forward, with so much consolation, to my return, when it is associated with the knowledge that your eye will beam upon me and your love reward me and all the trials of a year.

I am surprised that you do not hear from me more regularly as I have never allowed more than two days to pass without writing and most frequently have sent you a letter daily. You must really be in love to derive any pleasures from my letters as they are written hurriedly and at random, but I make no apologies as you desired me to write you, and I assure you your letters need none, for without flattering you, you write with a grace and ease that are charming, but you must judge me by the same rule that you apply to my letters. I am in love—see through my friendly spectacles.

I am glad that John had not forgotten my injunctions, and as he must suspect that there is some meaning in his errands, I expect he will be very careful to make you his friend in advance. He is an excellent servant, and I have ever found him honest and trustworthy. His attentions to you will make me think more of him. I have on my place in Selma some very choice apples and pears, and I hope he will not forget to supply you with the fruit. How many pleasant thoughts will be associated in the future with our engagement, my dearest, when we [] to fruit and flowers, how my love was told in flowers, and how my love was weekly repeated in my absence, by the presence of flowers.

Night. June 8, 1861.

The arrival of Dr. Vaughn interrupted my letter this morning. At evening drill, just as we formed for dress parade, we were ordered to return to camp and prepare for sticking tents, preparatory to moving. Our regiment returned at the double quick step and in a very few moments our knapsacks were packed, and I gave the order to strike tents, which was executed promptly. The wagon was hardly loaded when a very hard rain commenced to pour down in torrents. The order was the countermanded, and we were left uncovered in the tempest. Luckily my tent was not down, and we were sheltered under it. The Cadets were the only co. who had their tents struck, which speaks for their readiness and alacrity. I have got quarters in the vacant tents of a Va. regiment for my men tonight, and I am singly [] in mine writing to you. The enemy have appeared in front and on our flank, and we were to remove farther out, about a mile, on the range of hills from the Potomac to the Shenandoah river, which will be our link of battle.

As soon as the order was given to strike our tents, I knew that something of the kind was intended, and turned to you at once, my dearest, and now at the hour of nine, directed to us to a communion with each other, I am writing you, probably for the last time, perhaps on the eve of battle tomorrow. If so, it only proves my devotion and constancy to that dear one whose love is more to me than life. I feel calm and prepared for anything, being confident that I am in the keeping of an all-wise Creator and an all-wise God, who doeth all things well. I am willing to fall for the cause of Liberty and Independence, but I wish to live for you and for my two little girls. You must notice them for my sake if you should ever meet them, my dearest, in the event that anything occurs to me.

In this hour of peril and uncertainty, I feel sensibly how much you are to me and how fortunate I am in having won your affections as, in such an hour, it is pleasant to know that the prayers of so good and gentle a being are ascending for my safety. I have no fear of being shot or killed, and you must have no misgivings on the subject. You will be informed by telegraph at the earliest time of the result of every conflict that may take place as I agree with you that suspense is more than the reality of evil. I am much obliged to you for your having interested yourself for me at the Federal headquarters but hope not to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Lincoln as a prisoner of war. I still think that we will drive them from Washington. I did not imagine that I would be so calm and self-possessed on the eve of battle. We will certainly defeat the enemy, tho’ their force is said to be much larger than ours.

You must not be uneasy if you do not hear from me regularly. If the campaign opens in earnest, it may be difficult to obtain mail facilities, and you must rest assured that I will never cease to love and adore you, my dearest, as long as the blood courses thro’ my veins. I have told Mr. Averitt of our engagement since writing you last. He was so importunate that I could not avoid it. He is bound to confidence.

And now, dearest, Taps have sounded, and all lights have to be extinguished. Goodbye. May angels guard you while sweet slumbers visit you and may God in his wisdom and mercy preserve us to love each other and to be reunited, here or in a better land.

Ever affty and sincerely yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

June 9, 1861.

No attack last night. Wagons ready to move us to new position as soon as breakfast is over. I am quite well. I have just kissed your miniature. Goodbye.

Ever and affty,


We are now moving to a post two miles in advance. All arrangements are making for a battle. I have sent my trunk to Winchester in care of Mr. Averitt. I have put all of your letters to me in three envelopes directed to you in my trunk, and Mr. Averitt will see that you get them in I am killed.

I have no time for more.

Ever and affectionate,

N.H.R. Dawson

June 8, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


From State: 
From Municipality: 


To State: 
To Municipality: 
To County: 

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