January 11th, 1863

From Cecil Burleigh | Transcribed by Caleb Grove

Fairfax Station, Va, Jan. 11th 1863

Dear Wife,

I received the box yesterday all right, everything in good order but I could not tell what belonged to me. I took the box that had my name on [it] and as I could not claim any more I left the remainder with the Capt. who could not tell any better than me what belonged to him, but after a while he concluded that part of the sausages belonged to me, how he found this out I can’t see for they all lay in the box together he sent me in some. If you send me another box at any time send it separate. The Capt. is all right but there is some deviltry at that end of the road. By the way, I don’t think you had better send me any more boxes for they cost too much and you have so many calls on your purse. You say in your note that you was sorry to economize on me. Now, I am just the one to be cut short, for I can live without any expense though it would be tough some of the time.

We have not been paid yet and I don’t know when we shall be, but we have received notice that ten dollars of our state bounty1 is ready. I will send in this letter the order for the pay. I had it written for payable to your order. You can put your name on the back of it and it will be as good as a ten dollar bill. It will go anywhere Uncle Orin will change it for you. When I get my pay from the U.S.2 I will send you forty or fifty dollars more, this will enable you to get enough to eat for a while. I can’t bear to have you short of anything you need, I would sooner live on salt port and hard tack3 all my life.

We had a big feast last night on the good things that were sent us. Tell Mother her dough nuts are nice and the pies cannot be beat. The pickles I have not seen, I presume they were left for want of room. The butter looks nice but I have not tasted it yet. We did justice to the chicken last night. The dried beef I shall save ‘till we march if it ain’t in six months. The sausages I shall not cook today for I have been invited to eat roast turkey tonight. Doct. Stillman sent it to his nephew with instructions to invite me to help eat it. He also sent me a nice loaf of cake. It is very pleasant to be remembered in that way.

I got the medicine you sent, I did not care about the hot drops but they have done some good already. I gave a man some this morning that had been chilled so that he could hardly stand and it helped him. We have had a severe storm yesterday and [the] day before which has greatly increased our sick list but none of the Mt. Carmel boys are sick except Mark who we hear from Hamden has lost 20lbs. of flesh but he don’t show it in his looks. You spoke of Mr. Beach4, he seemed to have the asthma when here and I thought him in a bad fix for this place and did what I could to get him a discharge but if he tells a few more lies about the hows here I would let him die before I would help him again, though I believe he has spoken well of me.

You don’t keep me very well posted about things in Hamden, how is it about Uncle Albert, they say he has been getting in a crop of wild oats. These old military exempts want looking after.

Brainard is well, he has written several letters within a day or two and has said in all of them that he is well. Now, while I think of it, there is one fellow that has improved both in manners and morals since he came to the army, and that is Brainard. You can tell his mother this in any way you like, she must not blame him too much for not writing for it is not very pleasant business in cold weather. We can’t have things just as we want them here, it is so cold here now I can’t half write.

Everything is quiet here, we have not had but one laugh for a week and that was on Joe. We all went a few rods into the woods to get dry pine limbs for a fire, Joe had the ax so we took our loads as fast as he got them cut and left him alone. We waited about an hour for him to come back when we got uneasy about him and sent out to find him. He came in soon after, bringing his wood. He got lost and carried that armful of wood more than an hour. Brain told him he must take his haversack5 next time or he would get hungry.

I like to have forgotten to tell you that the Capt. has got up a notice in his tent to have the men take off their hats when they come into his awful presence, so you see we can learn a little etiquette in the army. I hope we shall all make gentlemen under his instruction.

Dear Wife, when you get this I want you to answer it the same night so that I may know that you get the check. I would send it some other way but no one is going home that I can trust. I hope this will get through soon so that you can have the money to use. The good old state of Connecticut is very prompt to pay, I wish the United States would do as well. I think the soldiers would fight with a better will. We have had no order to move yet but the Q.M. Department seems to be getting ready to do something. The rain I think has put a stop to our moving very soon. I am afraid the winter campaign is ended in Virginia, it would be almost impossible to move an army in this vicinity the mud is so deep. You know nothing about mud in Hamden.

If we don’t leave here I shall write to Mr. Thayer this week. I have written to John Hall and Mrs. Phelps. The gloves are just what I wanted, tell Mother I am very grateful for the stockings and shall think of her every time I put them on. Give my love to all. Much love and many kisses to you and the baby.

C.A.B.


  1. Connecticut soldiers received a bounty of $20 per month — $10 for themselves, and $10 that was sent directly to their family. The monthly pay from the federal government for a private was $13, so this bounty almost tripled their pay. 

  2. As a First Sergeant, Cecil was paid $17 per month from the federal government. He enlisted in August, so by this time he was probably owed $85. 

  3. Salt pork and hardtack were ration staples in the US military, and were most of what the 20th Connecticut had been issued in the recent past. 

  4. William Beach was a corporal in Company I until he was discharged for disability on December 10th, 1862. 

  5. A haversack was a bag that the soldiers would hang on their left hip to hold their rations.