Selma, July 28, 1861

I received quite unexpectedly two letters from you on Friday last, dated the 17th and 19th. I say unexpectedly because I did not think you would have time to write me before going to Manassas Junction. Nevertheless they were, as your letters always are, very welcome. I had hoped to have one today but upon reflection knew I was hoping against an impossibility and must content myself yet for a day or two before I can be gratified. I have no idea where you are at this time or where you went after the battle but am writing because it affords me pleasure and I take for granted Mr. Williams to whom I will enclose it will know where to forward it or what to do with it for me. Now that war has actually begun I am dreading every day to hear of another battle, fearing that you may not escape as well as before or your life be spared at all. We had a great many false rumors afloat here which caused much pain, among them the death of Boykin Goldsby which nearly distressed his mother to death and many others too numerous to mention. Mr. Robbins was expected on this morning's boat and from him we may get a true statement of affairs. Do you believe it that I would have given almost anything to have witnessed it, tho I do not think I would have been able to have looked long at such an awful sight, but when the victory was gained, then I would have forgotten all save the glory and exaltation of the moment? Oh how can man stay at home at such a time? I could never travel fast enough to get to the scene of battle, and yet there are plenty among us who call themselves so and stir not tho in words such patriots. I am so proud of you and think you are such a great man that I fear I shall never be able to realize the fact that anybody else fought for their country. Mother writes me that she never witnessed such excitement and joy in her life as at Nashville when the news was received. Cannons were fired, companies paraded and indeed every sign of joy that could be manifested. Here there was no rejoicing exhibited for sadness for the young and gallant dead filled our hearts, and we could not forget them to exalt in a victory that closed their lives in nobleness and honor and before they could see their loved country freed from Northern tyranny. God bless and be merciful to them and all who fall in our glorious cause of liberty and rest their souls in peace. You write me to be more cheerful and look on the brighter side. I look straight forward as far as I can and all around and above and yet all looks gloomy and dark. I have never for a moment doubted that anything but success would attend us, but I have thought of the many who would and must die to purchase it. Tis true there is not a man among you would not willingly prefer death to slavery, and you would yourself sacrifice your life gladly to gain it. Yet we who are left will find in freedom poor and sad enjoyment when those that are dear to us must die for it, and no matter how hard we try cannot reconcile ourselves to giving you up cheerfully for the cause. I do not now think of peace for a moment; fighting alone can accomplish our end and that hard and bloody. We are prepared for reverses, for we yet remember some lost battles in a similar struggle and notwithstanding them, success crowned our efforts. And when we lose now we will push forward again with redoubled courage and determination and must and will conquer. Everybody wanted to go on immediately to nurse and do what they could. Others (a few) were anxious to fill the places in the ranks of those who had fallen and for aught I know have gone.

We have no good news from Kentucky, yet my faith is not shaken. I still hope and am proud to say that many are leaving the state to join companies of others and endeavoring to do what they can. Perhaps those remaining will surprise us by doing the same. I know you will smile and say yes it will surprise us, but I don't care what Ky. does, I will acknowledge to the last I am a good, old fashioned Kentuckian, and be proud to say it.

I am thinking of paying a visit to my cousin Mrs. Craighead near Woodville this week, provided I hear from you--if not will wait until I do before I go. I have been trying to make up my mind to go for two weeks and am afraid some news will arrive that I cannot hear, therefore will not be gone long. We all laughed at me because I said I was going to see Mr. Robbins. Mr. Hagood wanted to know for what. I replied to hear from my sweetheart, but I would be ashamed to ask myself after I got there and would to send her (Matt) to see Mrs. Robbins. We are reading the life of Gen'l Quitman [1] which seems to be prophetic of the present times, especially some portions which are very striking. I cannot write you a very long letter this evening as I am anxious to write to my two brothers and an old schoolmate living in Louisiana and whom I have neglected for three months. I wrote you on Tuesday immediately upon the reception of your telegram and was so happy that you were safe that I do not remember what I wrote you or how I expressed myself, if I said I was glad, that was my object. Bro. Clem is still absent nor do we know when he will return. We heard of poor Willie Harrison’s sad accident and that George Mims was wounded. Mrs. Mabry and Miss Taitt I think are out of Selma. I have not seen anything of them for some time; indeed, Selma is almost deserted, a great many families having gone.

This morning I spent a part of in reading over some of your letters and tying them into bundles to empty the box they filled, to put more in. I find the last one written in just the same strain and believe you like me yet. But I have forgotten that my two brothers are doubtless anxious to receive letters and words of encouragement, and I must try and write more cheerfully to them. Goodbye. Write soon and believe me with a constant prayer for your safety.

Yours affectionately,


  1. Likely J. F. H. Claiborne's Life and Correspondence of John A. Quitman (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860), which was released in two volumes in 1860.
July 28, 1861


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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


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From Municipality: 
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To State: 
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To County: 
Prince William

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