Harper’s Ferry, June 14, 1861

I wrote you a few hurried lines yesterday, my dear Elodie, that we had received orders to march at 2 o’clock. All of our preparations were made to leave but owing to circumstances only known at headquarters, we have remained up to this hour, 7 in the morning. The men slept upon their blankets under the blue canopy of Heaven.

I was so sick that the surgeon wished me to go to Winchester with the sick, but I would not and was put in a wagon upon the top of knapsacks, tents, and all manner of baggage. I slept very well last night and am much better this morning.

As the sun was shining this morning a terrible explosion was heard, and a column of white smoke, increasing as it rose, ascended from the gap between the Maryland and Va. heights. Soon the flashes were seen, and the noble rail road bridge across the Potomac river was in ruins. As I write, I can see from the position in the wagon where I am lying the smoke ascending from the handsome residence of Mr. Borbour, lately occupied as Gen. Johnston’s headquarters. All of the public buildings [are] in strife [and] it seems are doomed to destruction.

Such are some of the scenes of war, and I can truly say that I prefer the victories of Peace. We are all ready waiting the order to march. Our troops have been divided into two columns of the same number of men. We’ll go to Winchester by the town pike. We are marching to meet Gen. McClelland, who has invaded Western Va. and is coming down this valley. I hope we will give him a warm reception and teach the western Yankees that the South is willing and able to vindicate her liberties. Harper’s Ferry is a place of no importance in a military point of view, and we have only been kept here to deceive and mislead the enemy. All the machinery has been removed to Richmond, and we have no farther use for it. To keep it would require a much larger force than Mr. Davis has to spare, and I think it wise to leave it. I am so weak that I can hardly hold the paper on a book to write, but is such a pleasure, my dear Elodie, to commune with you that I have made the effort. Last night I dreamed so sweetly of you, saw you distinctly and heard you speaking to me. You are dearer to me than life, and I would give all the world to be with you never to be separated again. I hope this paramount wish of mine will be granted. I think I will make you an affectionate husband and that you will hardly die of a broken heart. Do you not think so? I have a high appreciation of the duties of a gentleman to his wife, and I wish to prove to you the sincerity of my love. Fine houses and apparel do not make home necessarily happy. A loving wife whose smile greets her lord and his delicate and affectionate regard to her wants and wishes will do much to sweeten the cup of life.

I have your last letter in my side pocket, and you do not know how much pleasure it gave me to read it over and over yesterday evening when my temper was sad and gloomy at the idea of being sick. I will not consent to leave my Co., especially when danger threatens, under any except the most imperative necessity.

Do you know dearest that there are few men worthy of the love of as pure and peerless a girl as yourself? Have you considered how much you are giving when you entrust to me the keeping of your affections and happiness? Your hopes are bright, and you anticipate their realization. But alas, how many women have lived to see themselves neglected and their love unreturned? I hope to live and to love on. Even should you lose the charms which are now so endearing, I think I would love you the more. I have not been attracted to you alone on account of your beauty. I have seen beauty of mind and wealth of heart among the qualities which you possess, and to make them mine has been my object. You will be a paragon of matronly virtues with all of these domestic qualities so essential to the practical duties, you have those other qualities that will make you loved and admired.

I am not afraid of what you call the Todd element in your character. I love decision of manner, coupled with affection and good sense. [] for the present.

One o’clock

I have just dined—a cup of coffee, sweetened with molasses, a biscuit, and a little rice. What a repast for a sick man!

The public buildings are all now fuming. As soon as they are destroyed, we will leave. Goodbye now dearest.

Your own affectionate and devoted,

N.H.R. Dawson

Bunker Hill, June 17, 1861

Dear Elodie, I have been sick for two days travelling in a wagon. Am better today and make for Martinsburg, when we expect to see the enemy.

Dearest, write to me at Winchester still. I love you devotedly.

Every your affty,

N.H.R. Dawson

June 14, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


From State: 
From Municipality: 


To State: 
To Municipality: 
To County: 

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