Winchester, Virginia, July 16, 1861

I have just read your letter of the 7th, covering one from your good kind mother, my dear Elodie, and cannot express how much gratified I am that my attentions to you have won her consent to our engagement. The deep feeling she has manifested for you, a solicitude which a mother wrapt up in her child only can feel, has won my heart, and I know that when I know her I will share with you some of the love you have for her. I can love a lady like Mrs. Mathews, and I have imagined that your mother resembles her in character. I rejoice that my letter of the 30th gave you so much pleasure. I assure you that the affection you speak of in that letter is what I have tried to express in all of them, and if sometimes I fail to be affectionate it is that I fear you may think me tiresome. It gives me so much pleasure to read the affectionate expressions in your letters, to know that I am loved by one whom I worship with a Eastern idolatry is indeed flattering; and as I have often told you I am humiliated when I think and know how little deserving I am of the deep ardent love of such a girl as my dear Elodie, and knowing this I fear that when weighed in the balances I will be found wanting. But dearest, I hope I will be equal to the task of keeping pure and undimmed the pearl of your affections which you have given to me. I cannot praise one like you too delicate for praise. The sensitive plant is not touched without wounding its sensibility. I love you with my whole heart. I have no dreams of the future that are not gilded by your image.

Please when you write to your mother thank her for her note of the 7th and tell her that when she sees you in our home, I trust her matronly heart will have no cause to fear that her cherished child has misplaced her confidence "in a stranger."

Yesterday it was reported that Gen. Patterson was advancing, and a fight took place between our cavalry and his advance, but today it turns out that it was merely a foraging party. We will be ready to give him a warm reception when he comes, and I hope that I will bear myself as becomes a Southern soldier and as becomes a man who has won the heart of so brave a heroine as Miss Elodie. The anxiety you feel is terrible I know as I have on several occasion known how awful it is to have your hopes imperiled in uncertainty. If we ever have a battle I will telegraph the result to Selma if it can be done. I have become now quite used to alarms and can sleep without regarding them. I feel more anxiety for you than for myself as I think how much trouble you are caused by your engagement to me. I value and appreciate a love that was given under such circumstances to one who was about to jeopardize the life he had made so essential to your happiness. You are indeed to me another life, more valuable and cherished than my own.

How grateful and soothing your affectionate letter has been, coupled with the note of your mother. "Tis like the gentle rain from Heaven, twice blessed, blessing him (her) that gives and him that takes." [1] How poor is language, except in poetic numbers, to express my feelings for you my own sweet angel. You are more beautiful to me than the beautiful mountains that encircle the sky, more loved than all the possessions of the world. I am not extravagant.

See how your letter has affected me? If you wish to make me do just as you wish in all things you have only to be affectionate. I will be unable to resist your love. It is all powerful and overpowering, and I hope your "poor captain" will live to exhibit it in your cheerful happiness.

I must now close and sign my name. May God protect and reward you for your kindness and goodness. Adieu.

Ever and affectionately yours,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. Nathaniel is quoting act 4, scene 1 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice: "It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
July 16, 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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