Winchester, Virginia, June 17, 1861

I sent a letter to you this morning, written on the eve of the evacuation of Harper’s Ferry, with a line from Bunker’s Hill this morning.

I have been sick until today, since we left the Ferry, and have ridden in the top of a wagon most uncomfortably. This morning I took my place at the head of the Cadets for the first time since yesterday week and marched them upon the battlefield, selected to meet Gen. Patterson’s alarm. Gen. Johnston, however, deemed it best not to give battle as the enemy had from 18 to 25,000 while our force was not over 9,000. We began the retreat at one o’clock and have taken post 4 miles from Winchester and nine miles from Bunker’s Hill. I had to march about all the way on foot and am very much jaded this evening, but, tired as I am, it is a pleasure sweeter far than an Epicurean feast to a hungry man to write to you once more to assure you that I am better and that you are still, dear Elodie, the idol of my soul, that I love and adore you.

I have no idea what our movements will be, but I think Winchester will be our base of operations for concentrating a large army for the defence of this part of Virginia. You will please, therefore, continue to write me to that place.

Since last Sunday we have been in a constant state of excitement and uncertainty. Our baggage has been reduced to mere change of clothing; our tents have been now discarded and sent away; our meals are badly cooked, and we are suffering the privations of a soldier’s life. I am entirely sick of it and wish I could put off all of these troubles and lay myself at your feet, your willing and faithful spouse. I will hope and pray for Peace, and the rumor is that Mr. Lincoln has prepared a cessation of hostilities[?] until the meeting of congress.

I have heard nothing from you since your letter of June, but a messenger has been sent to the office at Winchester this evening. I hope to receive a letter this evening. I made all my preparations for battle this morning. I sent you the letter referred to by a gentleman who was going to Winchester with all of the checks for money that I think I have, and my mind was looking to nothing but a fight. I did not think I could have been so cool and deliberate. I have always thought the eve of battle was a time of anxiety and trepidation but guess not so. I now regret that we did not have the fight at Bunker’s Hill. With these feelings, I was, however, sad when I remember that the day, 17th June, was the fourth anniversary of my marriage and to dispel the gloom, I have to think of you, my dearest. In all my troubles I turn to you and find sympathy in the knowledge that I am loved and appreciated. The sun is now sinking. We are bivouacked in a beautiful forest, surrounded by fields of waving wheat and beautiful clover. Our brigade is composed of the Geo. Regiments, the Kentucky Reg., and the 4th Ala. I met today Major Pope of the Kentucky Reg. He tells me that he knows your sister, Mrs. Helms, and that he is a cousin of Mr. Helms. I did not tell him that you were betrothed to me however.

My dearest I must now finish this desultory letter written for my own pleasure, not for yours. Therefore you must excuse all defects.

Dr. []augh heard that we were to have no battle and today overtook our co. with his wife. He is a gallant old gentleman. He will remain at Winchester for some time yet.

Both of the Messrs Averitt have joined a guerilla company. Mr. A. leaves the cadets. I think he is much in love with Miss Williams of Winchester. She is a very nice young lady, made me a beautiful flannel garment which is now the style for our soldiers in place of a coat, and it is very cool and pleasant in this hot weather.

I cannot close without again assuring you of the fidelity of my heart to you, my dear Elodie. Under all circumstances, the dial hand is not truer to the hour.

You must excuse short letters and reply me with long ones. With my very kind regards to Mr. And Mrs. White, I remain, my dear Elodie,

Ever affty yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

June 17, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


From State: 
From Municipality: 
From County: 


To State: 
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