Charlottesville, Virginia, August 18, 1861

This is Sunday, the fourth since the battle of Manassas, and I have been spending the morning in my room, reading the bible you gave me upon the eve of my departure and also in reading over your last three letters of July 24, 30, and Aug. 5. This is frequently a consoling occupation with me, and when I feel the want of friend or of sympathy, I invariably turn to you, my own loved and cherished Elodie. I sometimes reproach myself that I have not as much love of sacred things as I have for you, but I hope you will pardon me for loving you as I do for I can love Him through you. I place all my hopes of earthly happiness in you, and were I to lose your love I would become a wanderer and a fugitive from society. I would then be willing to remain in the army and would on all occasions seek death in the battles that we are to fight.

I hope I will yet be able to be more worthy of you than I am and that the future will bring with it for you and for me many hours of happiness. I live in your love and look to the departure of each day as bringing me so much nearer to you. I have been repacking my trunk this morning and putting out a number of superfluous articles, preparatory to an entire campaign, which I think we will have. Inter nos, I think we will advance before Washington, and you must not be surprised to hear that Washington has fallen by this time next month. If so, I hope to have a pleasanter time for spending the winter than we now anticipate if we remained so, but I still hope that we will be sent South. I spent an hour very pleasantly yesterday at Mr. Cochran's, a relative of Mr. Mathews. I have known the family for a long time. I found Miss Mary Preston grown up to womanhood, a beautiful and interesting girl, resembling you in her cordial, unaffected manners. I was really pleased and gratified at her cordial reception. I have promised Mrs. Cochran that I would come to her house if I am sick or wounded, and you will certainly be in danger of losing a part of my heart should I be so unfortunate for Miss Mary Preston [1] is a charming girl. She lisps a little which adds to her interesting appearance and manners. I like her better than any lady I have seen in Va. Mr. Averitt's intended is near this place. I intend to get our flag and send it home to you. Maj. Haden has seen her and is very much pleased.

The day is bad and rain still comes pouring down. I think of going to camp tomorrow as I am now much better, only wanting my strength, which will come back as soon as I take to exercise and drill once more.

Have you seen the official report of the 4th Ala. Rgt? It is published in the dispatch of yesterday, also an account from the diary of G. T. Anderson of our regiment, a young man from Huntsville, who was killed near me in the battle. I saw the poor fellow when he fell. He was a pious lad, devoted to his sister Pauline. Six or eight men were killed near me. I almost wish I had been wounded. I must now bid you goodbye, dearest Elodie. I wrote you yesterday and hope you are writing me now.

Adieu. May God protect and spare you always.

Ever sincerely and affty yours,

N. H. R. Dawson

  1. Mary Preston Cochran, age nineteen, was the daughter of John Cochran and Margaret Lynn Lewis. She married John Montgomery Preston; 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Fredericksville Parish, Albermarle, Va.
August 18, 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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