Loudon Valley, Dec. 2nd
When I wrote you last I was not well and to prevent your being anxious about it I take this early opportunity to add another to your long list of letters and I do this the more cheerfully because you seem to appreciate when I write and the difficulties under which I have [to] write. I received a letter last night that was written Nov. 3rd and I read it with pleasure1. If it was old it was one of the best written letters you have sent me and you have sent many good ones. I know now that nothing cheers the heart more than a word of commendation from those we love, and dear Wife, if I’ve been negligent in this respect I hope to make it up in the future.
Amid the excitement and (to me) hardship of the past few weeks I have looked upon the small trials of life with contempt but I know they are the hardest to bear with patience and your annoyances are by no means light. It must be hard for you to have all the care of the family and property without any one to advise or encourage you. I would say keep a good heart for every trial will bring it’s recompense. It is always darkest a little before day. I hope this will prove true as regards our country and I think I see a little light under the cloud that presages the coming day. I look upon the freedom of four millions of people as no slight thing and I think that in the providence of God is to be the price of this horrible war.
You need not think from this bit of philosophy that I reject the doctrine of the Bible for the Bible teaches us that reward and punishments are dealt out to us in this world as well as in that to come.
You picture to me the beauty of a moonlight night. I have lain where I could enjoy it at any time of night and have felt a satisfaction in doing so. It is a strange fancy but I like to lay outdoors in pleasant weather with nothing between me and heaven but space and think that our sainted friends are looking from the windows of their mansions in heaven at us poor wandering on earth and call the stars that twinkle so in a clear Nov. night lights in those same mansions.
I have seen and enjoyed since I left home much beautiful scenery but it seems to me now that there is no place on earth so beautiful as that which contains my dear wife and child. However self reliant and independent a man may feel when well, let [him] get sick in such a place as this and he will see the need of a home and kind friends to take care of him. We have here no place but the hospital for a sick man, and that would kill a well person if he stayed there, but thank fortune I am now able to resume my duty and had one or two pretty sick days but am now fast getting my strength.
Since I commenced this I have received another letter from you written Thanksgiving day. I see you did not comply with my request to keep up the old customs and have a roast turkey.2 I had one but I did not enjoy it as I should at home, but I eat it with friends that I had not seen for years. Good fellows but a little too much inclined to drink wine yet I am happy to say there was none of them drunk.
Wednesday morn, Dec 3rd, 1862
Dear Wife, I have so many interruptions that I don’t know as I shall ever get any chance to finish this. Brainard’s box came shortly after I got your letter and they made such a time over it that I could not write or think and well they might for it was filled with goodies. There was two baked chickens and cakes and pies too numerous to mention. He set them right out and the boys went in (those in our mess I mean). I fear I ate too much for I have had a diarrhea through the night. I ought not to have eaten anything but it looked too tempting. You know I am not in the habit of overeating but I was just getting well and a little overdose upset me. However, I think it won’t last long. I begin to feel better now. And now I think of it I will say a word about sickness in this regt.
There are a good many complaining who are not sick but lazy, they feel a little out of sorts and get excused from duty and find it less trouble to lay around their quarters to do the drilling and other work we have to do. After playing sick for a while they imagine they are sick and go round moping with their mouths half open, [the most] miserable looking objects you ever saw and I have noticed another thing, they seem to lose (or be losing) what little sense they ever possessed. Of course, this singular disease attacks only persons of indolent habits but it is necessary for all to look for it for it won’t do to stop moving for it might get you, it is very seductive.
Besides this, there is the jaundice that troubles a good many (and that seems to have the same affect on the mind) and there is diarrhea and some few cases of fever. The latter are not generally very severe, but one or two have died of dysentery. We have our list in the Co, 18 sick, ten of them are of the lazy kind and have the jaundice, two have fevers, the remainder, diarrhea. I don’t think we should have so many on our list if our drill was not so heavy.
I will now try and answer your letter briefly and close this rambling epistle. The rest thing I notice is a request of yours that I should be very careful who I select to train our precious child in case you were taken from her should such a thing happen, which God forbid I should know of no better plan that to put her in charge of Bourannts.
You speak of the mittens3, they will do me well enough. You need not buy any gloves at present [though] I may want some after a while. The stockings I have are good enough yet. As for a muffler, I don’t think I could use one. You need not send directed envelopes unless you are ashamed of my writing or don’t like the looks of those I send you. I received some postage stamps last week and I found two today on a small piece of paper but could not tell whether they came today or not for they were in the box where I keep my stuff. I don’t think I shall ever learn to save paper for the rise in letter paper is so slight that all I could save would not bring 25 cents in a year.
I shall write Willis soon.
If you call on Esq. Hitchcock now you can get your pay up to the first of this month (Nov.) from the day I enlisted as I told you I presume.4
H.S.D.5 has cheated you a little but I would not mind it. I made a good trade when I sold out to him. You think that $50 went off lively but I don’t, I know how money gets away.
I will say for the benefit of Mrs. Ives that if any of our Mt. Carmel boys are sick I shall not fail to speak of it. Brainard is not very well now but he is able to do duty. He has a cold. Joel seems to be down in the mouth today. I don’t know but he is going to get his name on the sick list. Burton has been sick 3 days but is getting better. The rest are well. I must close now, give my love to all our friends. Don’t forget to kiss the baby for me.
Yours, with much love and many kisses,
C. A. Burleigh
This letter from Caroline no longer exists. ↩
In his letter of November 30th, he mentioned his Thanksgiving in a little more detail:
I went to Harpers Ferry Thanksgiving day. I intended to have a picture taken to send to you but was too late. I found some old friends from York state there, two Lieut.’s and helped them to eat a large turkey. ↩
In Cecil’s letter of November 23rd, he mentions:
Tell Mother that I thank her very much for the mittens, but she must have thought that she was knitting them for Uncle Sam himself by the size of them. ↩
All Connecticut soldiers were paid a bounty by the state as a supplement to their pay from the Federal government ($13 per month for a private). The state would pay each soldier an additional $10 per month, and send an additional $10 each month to the soldier’s family at home. This bounty brought Cecil’s pay from $17 per month to $37 per month, effectively. ↩