Manassas Junction, August 1, 1861

I received yesterday your welcome letter of the 14th of July which was forwarded from Winchester. You have no idea how welcome it was. It was like balm to the wounded, like the soft gleam of the moon after the dust and glare of a summer day, and I thank you, my dearest, for its affectionate and interesting details. I can well imagine your anxiety and rejoice that your confidence in my promise to relieve it was not misplaced as I wrote to you on the night of the battle and telegraphed the Reporter to assure you of my safety.

I am glad you acquitted yourself so well at the concert, especially as it gratified some parties whom you do not mention. I am glad that you have punished the man as you have, and I will take pleasure when I know him to see that you are protected from his rudeness. Please tell me who he is. I am indeed complimented to think that my likeness is so often gazed upon by your beautiful eyes, that your love for me places value upon it. I am not as stout as when I left Selma but am much darker, having been bronzed by the exposure and sun. I cannot imagine how the lady friend who received my letter from the Soldier's Aid Society could have manufactured such a report, that I was soon to return home to be married, as you well know my good sense would avoid making her or anyone beside yourself the depository of such an intention. I told you that I had received and answered a letter from her.

Mr. Wetmore does know of my attachment and engagement to you, which was imparted to him for special reasons which I will explain at the right time. It was necessary that it should be entrusted to some one in view of a purpose, and I selected him as a friend of both of us.

Mr. Averitt's letter is mysterious, and I am out of temper that he should have written you as he has, and I hope you will not deign to reply. He evidently hints at my attachment to you which good taste and propriety, in which he is sadly deficient, should have prevented. I am no rival of his, and I presume his allusion to our diminished friendship has arisen from my not allowing him to read your letters, tho he has shown me those of his intended. He evidently thinks you are the rival that has supplanted him in my confidence, and it may be that he merely meant a little pleasantry, but I still think he should not tread upon the sacred ground of your affections. I would never dream of taking such a liberty with miss Williams. I impute no bad motive to him but attribute it all to the want of proper culture. He has been educated well, but I am not confident that his early education was very gentle. He has been all his life depending upon others and lacks independence. But enough, I hope you will excuse me from delivering your message to him, but if you deem it right you have my permission as you ask it to write him. My dearest, I am very sensitive to anything that touches you, and I may take a wrong view of the matter, but you will attribute it to my love for one dearer to me than life itself. Let the conclusion of the war solve the mystery for him. I am outraged that he should hope even to be made your confidante. Just such things as these have changed my estimate of his character very much.

If John has been faithful in his duty to you, and he deserves in your opinion so valuable a reward as my likeness then dearest you can bestow it, and I will approve whatever you do. Tell John to get you melons. I expect they are plentiful at the plantation. Is it not a pity that you are deprived by this war of so many things that are yours? I do not permit myself to doubt that I will return to you in safety after the expiration of my term of service. I enclose you for your perusal and then for safe-keeping a letter received from Mr. Mathews to see his feeling and his great kindness. He will love you as his own child, and I am exceedingly anxious to introduce you to him as my wife. His love is worth millions, and I am proud of his friendship. I have some balls and mementoes of the battlefield which I will endeavor to have sent to you in some way by one of the gentlemen here from Selma. I will send them to Mr. Wetmore and ask him to give them to you. Have you any objections? I will send a hollow spherical cannon ball with some bullets in it which you can take out. I picked them up on the field after the battle. I also send you a Harper's Weekly containing some interesting views of the war, and one of Gen. Rees, our brigade, on review at Winchester. Mr. Woodson came to see me last night on his way from New York. He gives a very interesting account of the feelings there about the battle on the 21st and brought me a pile of newspapers. I do not think we are to have a speedy peace, tho I hope, even against hope, that in some unforeseen way God will vouchsafe it to our country. How pleasant it would be to have our expectations of a long war disappointed and soon return to those we love. Among the letters sent you is your mother’s. I wish it preserved carefully that it may always remind me of a mother's love for a cherished daughter and of my duty to guard and protect her with my love. The two brief notes of your mother’s have greatly impressed me in her favor as a lady of great character and good sense. How could such a daughter have a different mother? You wrong me in saying that I do not give you credit for loving me as much as I love you, my dear Elodie. My love for you is great, and that love teaches me to have in you the most perfect confidence, that does not permit a doubt to enter my mind upon the subject of your truthfulness and affection. To doubt you would make me mad, and I would roam the world a desolate and broken-hearted man. I am glad you are going to leave Selma on a visit to Marengo. I knew Col. Craighead [1] very well. I will feel uneasy should you remain in Selma in August and September, which are usually our sickliest months. Will you not tell me your birthday? I will tell you mine that you may not hesitate to grant me the favor, February 14, 1829. You see I am getting too old faster than you imagined when you told Mrs. Mabry you were not too young to marry me. You really have a happy faculty of foiling the assaults of your friends. Please tell her not to be uneasy, that I will make no claims to the hands of her fair daughter. Nine months wear away before we meet, unless peace throws its white mantle over the country. The time will pass more rapidly now, as events of an active character will take place. Our trials, however, are intended for a wise purpose, and we will love each other more warmly and know each other better than if we had been married earlier. Don't you think so, my dearest? I think of you as my wife, dear to me as you ever will be, and happy will be the home when you are given to my care and love. I am always at your side, when the moon beams brightly, and at the soft hour of nine, I turn to worship with you in the stars the God who made and protects us. I have written you a long letter and no doubt you already tire in deciphering its characters. Goodbye. May God guard and protect you ever shall be my constant prayer.

With my kind regards to Mr. and Mrs. White, I remain, dear Elodie,

Ever affectionately and sincerely your own devoted,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. James B. Craighead (1795-1859) was the late husband of Elodie's cousin Jane Preston Craighead of Marengo County, Alabama.
August 1, 1861


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


Residence (County): 
Dallas County, AL


From State: 
From Municipality: 
From County: 
Prince William


To State: 
To Municipality: 
To County: 

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