At home, July 17, 1861

N.H.R. Dawson, esq.

Dear Sir,

While I was away at Marion yours of the 8th inst came to the office. We had unusual pleasure in hearing from you. For some week or so I have with tremulous anxiety opened newspapers. I find I have an amount of anxiety and uneasiness for you much greater than I had supposed it was. I have learned to place but little reliance on the rumors set afloat in the newspapers and by the telegraph.

I cannot think that the war will last long. I must think that two or three pitched battles will satisfy the Yankee that he has a people to deal with who have the will and the means to maintain their independence. I think but little trust or reliance can as yet be placed in the Virginia soldier for it appears to me that he is afraid that if he should kill a yankee he would be indicted for murder. If such be the truth, it is to be hoped that he will soon get bravely over it.

Lincoln in his message seems to vindicate the rightfulness of all his measures upon the fact that a majority of the southern people are not in favor of the Southern government but considers that a comparatively few ambitious and designing men have brought about a state of circumstance by means of which a full action of the people has been prevented, and all that is necessary in his estimation to down[] is by means of his army to remove the pressure of these circumstances. It certainly cannot require much fighting to convince him of his error on that point. How much I should enjoy a conversation with you now.

Judge Pettus has been appointed a major in a regiment to be raised and commanded by Col. Jones of Marion with Mr. Garrett as Lieut. Col. and to be armed with the double barrel shot gun and rifle of the country.

Reginald is now at Montgomery with his company waiting the arrival of some other companies to complete the regt. of Col. Fry. People say that Col. Fry is a fine officer. I never heard of him. Reginald’s wife and child are staying in Cahaba and will remain there until his return from the wars.

Mrs. Pegues left this morning on a visit to Virginia to see her husband. She had no time set for returning.

I was on yesterday Mr. Richard []. He said that all your friends in and about Selma were quite well.

Some 8 days your man John came here on a visit to his brother, George. He said that your negroes were all well and that the crop was fine. He spoke of the cotton at that time being waist high. My crop is not good either here or in the Prairies.

I am now ready to send you a pair of boots and a pair of shoes for Andrew. I have been for some time trying to get them made, and they are just now. I sent to Selma and got a pair of you boots to make them by. I hope they will fit. There is also 4 pair of sock and 12 bottles of blackberry cordial which my wife and children have made for you. The socks are made of black silk and cotton. I shall put them in a box and send them to Maj. Haden at Selma to be sent per express. I hope that you will get them soon. They are the offering of sincere and heartfelt love, and as such I know they will be appreciated by you. If the boots fit you as well as the Dutchman says you will find a great relief from them and the socks, although the socks do not look fine, yet the silk in them will feel pleasant and prevent them from sticking to the foot and let it slip and work easy.

Should the boots fail to fit please let me know, and I will try again. You must not fail to write to me for any thing which I can do for you for I am sure that if you could fully realize how great a pleasure we have in doing any thing that is likely to increase your personal comfort you would think a sin in yourself not to afford us the opportunity. I also put in the box 3 pair of socks for Andrew and a box of preparation of my own making for putting on your boots. It is composed of beeswax, tallow, oil, and a very small portion of [ ] It will keep your boots soft and make them pleasant. Have it put on once in 8 or 10 days previously wiping off the boot with soap and water. Small things like this frequently afford much comfort.

I do not, I will not, permit myself to doubt about your safe return to us. Should serious accident happen to you it will be one more of recorded sorrows for me and mine. It will produce a bitter sadness and sorrow that naught this side of the grave can cure.

I have written you frequently. I fear that some of my letters have not been received. I will therefore mention in this that the little babie wrote out that she had got the likeness which you wrote that you had sent her.

We are all quite well at this time and so far have had no sickness. There has been less sickness among my negroes than usual. All join me in my love for you.

Very Respt yours,

Joel E. Matthews

P.S. Do you get Haynes’ paper? I have arranged to pay the postage at the office, and they say that it is sent every week.

July 17, 1861


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


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