Charlottesville, Virginia, August 17, 1861

I have been in my room the whole evening, my dear Elodie, lounging in the bed and reading the conclusion of the “Woman in White.” I have been in low spirits and still feeling weak and out-of-sorts, have been endeavoring to look forward to our meeting at the end of eight months. Near four have elapsed since our engagement and near the same period of our enlistment has also passed. I have only twice as long to remain, but those months may end without uniting us. But I will remember your injunction to do my duty, let what may come.

I went out this morning to see Mrs. Hallback, the mother of an old friend of mine, Miss Anna, who for several years was a governess in Mr. Matthews family. The old lady was glad to see me and made me drink a glass of cordial. She has several nice daughters, but my friend Miss A. is in Georgia. The children at the Matthews are very warmly attached to her, and we all grieved when she left.

I have been visited also by some of Mr. Matthews friends here and will go to see them before returning.

I have been in my room during most of the time and have even felt too weak to write you a letter, my own loved and darling Elodie, but this evening I must make the effort for I love you more than all this world can give and desire to give you the poor satisfaction of hearing from me. I think I could undergo as much trouble for you sake as did Walter Hartright for Laura Fairlie. Tell Mrs. White that it is the most mysterious story I ever read, but why should I digress from speaking love to you even to express an opinion. I hope, my dearest, that in twelve months from today you will be Mrs. D. and that I will be near you to receive your kind nursing should I be sick. If such a happiness is in the future, the few months now intervening will soon pass away. I hope you will not follow Dr. Rodman’s advice to postpone your marriage until the end of the war for it may last ten years and think how old and ugly I will then have become. I am determined to retire at the end of one year and let some others take my place. I do not believe I was intended for a soldier—at any rate, I am not so fond of its inconveniences as to adopt it as my calling. A lady of your [] nature will no doubt be surprised at such an admission from her knight errant. These are my present feelings when suffering from depression and sickness and are no doubt common to all men. You know we all have our weaknesses and our weak moments.

But to a subject of more interest: I have told Maj. Haden of our engagement. He is not at all displeased and speaks of you as a lady of character and decision tho’ I believe he is unacquainted with you.

I would give a great deal to have it in my power to visit you in December, but I will hardly be able to get a furlough except under most favorable circumstances. I think, however, that our troops will go south in the winter, and in that event if we go to [] or Pensacola you can make up a party to visit the regiment as you did at [] last winter.

We hear of a great victory in [] today and of one at Leesburg in Va. I place more confidence in the former than in the latter. Gen. Lyon was one of our bitterest foes and most ruthless soldier.

I can form no idea of our next movement, unless it be on Washington City. If so you must expect another hard battle. I think we will be able to take the place by a coup de main with little loss, but our leaders may decide upon a fight over it.

At this point I must close this evening and finish in the morning Goodnight. May god remember you always, my dear Elodie.

I am up, feeling better this morning, my dear Elodie, and would have gone back to Manassas but for the badness of the weather. It has been raining all morning.

You tell that I live in the future. I know that I do to a certain extent. It is so much pleasanter to look to the time when you will be mine than it is to be situated as I now am that I cannot avoid it. But the present has its grave duties and the future can only be made happy by their performance. With this view--it is the only right view—we should always endeavor to discharge our duties faithfully. So far God has blessed me, and I place entire confidence in his mercy.

Grey Haden is here with typhoid fever but I hope will do well. He has several kind ladies to nurse him. You have no idea how kind the ladies of this place, and indeed of the whole country, have been toward our sick and wounded soldiers. “Oh woman, in an hour of care, uncertain every chance to please, but when pain and anguish wring the brow, a ministering angel thou.”

I would give so much to be near you, to have the wealth of your sympathy, to see your liquid eyes bending over one you love, and to hear the rich tones of that voice, discoursing encouragement and consolation. It will be mine one of these days, and then, dear Elodie, we will make up for these trials and sufferings. I hope to hear from you upon my return to Manassas and will write you regularly there. We will be kept very busy, however, by our new Col. Allston of So. Ca.

And now goodbye, my loved and darling Elodie. May God preserve and keep you always is my prayer.

Sincerely and affectionately yours,

N.H.R. Dawson

August 17, 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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