Selma, July 31, 1861

Your welcome letter of the 24th has just been read with pleasure, acquainting me with your own hand of your safety for altho I received one from you written the 21st at Manassas, as you did not even mention a battle nor was there any signs told of a fight, I concluded it was written before the battle began. I had not heard any rumor to the effect that you were wounded or killed but am not astonished at the latter getting out as you said so yourself when the cannon ball knocked you and the fence into the air and then onto the earth and as you are a truthful man, I would have been inclined to have placed confidence in the assertion myself had I heard you utter the exclamation. It must have been a funny sight and doubtless you felt so, never having had a cannon ball so near you before, and I am truly thankful you escaped so well while others were falling around you and your own company suffered so much, and I hope you may go safely thro the war if it is your destiny to fight it out. I shall not say or do anything I hope to influence you the one way or the other and will try to be content with [your] own decision at the end of year of your enlistment. We must conquer, no matter what it costs, and we must have brave men in the field to do it, and one does not suffer much more than another for we all have to make sacrifice, tho I am selfish and candid enough to say I would much prefer others to do it than myself and hope Mr. Wetmore or Dedman's [1] company will be ready to take your place as the idea of being separated from you perhaps for years is not agreeable. But one must do the best they can, and I am trying to bear up cheerfully, but sometimes I make a great failure, especially when I do not receive a letter, tho your kindness keeps me well posted, and that is quite a consolation I assure you. I have suffered much anxiety, but since hearing there is no possibility of a fight for three months--so completely has Gen'l Scott's [2] army been routed--that I think when you write me the same I can take the world a little more quietly.

I must tell of an honor I received. A day or two ago a large letter from Head Quarters, Fort Morgan, [3] from Col. Harry Maury commanding was handed me which notified me that I was a member of the "Magnolia Regiment" and a handsome silver badge (so he calls it), a Magnolia bed and two leaves, was enclosed with the request that I would assume and wear it. I was astonished! The honor was unexpected, and I wondered if the regiment was like the blockade, on paper, however the ornament is pretty and I will say I belong to the "Magnolia Cadets" with your permission, should I learn it is not in existence. I am glad to see Mr. Breckenridge has at last said something [4] but so sorry he was so long making up his mind that a Free State man, Vallandigham, expressed his sentiments freely and in a more noble, manly way before him. Alas, tis too true that Kentucky is no more Kentucky, and it is with sorrow and pain I must say and see it. My hope is getting fainter and fainter and were I J. C. B. I would have made my speech before and bowed myself out and taken the field a common soldier, seeing nothing was to be gained by longer subjecting myself to insult. I have written to you frequently lately and hope you did not have to go battle in reality without a letter. I directed them all to Winchester. How am I to keep up with you travelling all over the State? If I wait for you to write me word you always complain of my silence and then that makes me feel bad to think you would suppose I did not wish to write to you, so you must stay in one place if you want to hear from me.

Bro. Clem returned today from Livingston having gained 8 pounds, but I cannot see any change whatever as he still looks thin. Selma is quiet now that the excitement of the first battle has worn off, and we are all eager for some other news. If I had not received some from you this evening, I think I would have gone to bed sick as I had almost given up, thought I could stand it no longer. I have nothing to write you of and fear my letters are as similar to each other as you think yours are. I am hoping you may be able to return soon if but for a short visit and think what a nice time we could have together and as we are almost strangers am afraid if you do not that we will have to begin our acquaintance anew when you do return. How little we have seen of each other, but we made the most of it when we did meet and in few meetings, did we not? Well it is after ten o'clock. I have been busily engaged all day and feeling somewhat fatigued will finish this scrawl, which is written simply to let you know I still think of you often, all the time, indeed there is not a moment when you are absent from my memory and a constant wish to see you is also felt. Matt has been tiring herself tonight in the way of laughing and talking, and it is more than probably I have introduced some of her conversation. Write me when you can. Goodbye and believe that I am with much love and a prayer ever for your safe return,

Yours affectionately,


  1. James M. Dedman was a member of the Twentieth Alabama Infantry, Company B. Alabama Civil War Muster Rolls, 1861-1865, Alabama Department of Archives and History.
  2. Although Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was general-in-chief of all Union forces, he had not been in favor of the "On to Richmond!" strategy that ended in defeat at Bull Run, preferring what was derided as the Anaconda Plan. Nevertheless, he accepted responsibility for the rout and by the end of the year had been edged out in favor of George B. McClellan.
  3. Fort Morgan was located at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama.
  4. Kentucky's John Cabell Breckinridge was increasingly isolated as one of the few U.S. senators supporting secession and slavery. In the July special session, he claimed that Lincoln was operating outside the Constitution, noting, "I infinitely prefer to see a peaceful separation of these States than to see endless, aimless, devastating war, at the end of which I see the grave of public liberty and of personal freedom." By the end of the year he was in Confederate uniform. For more, see William C. Davis, Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2010).
July 31, 1861


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


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


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Prince William

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