Mt. Carmel, Sabbath afternoon, Jan 11th, 1863
My own dear husband,
It is a beautiful day after the storm and we had a very heavy rain last night but it didn’t last long. I thought very much of you and hoped you was where you was protected from the storm. Mother has gone to church, I haven’t been today. I find so little time to do for myself that I am really getting almost too shabby to go annoy folks if I could find the time, and felt like it. I could rig up some of my old dresses so they would be good enough for me, without any expense, and I must try and do it before long.
I think it is too bad when you are so near Washington that your letters are so long [in] coming. The letter you wrote the night before New Years wasn’t mailed in Washington until the 7th. I got it Thursday the 8th. I received your letter last night that was written last Sabbath. There is a new mail arrangement here, I don’t know just how it is, but our letters that come in the New York mail goes through to Chesire1, and are sorted over there, and sent back here, funny idea, I should think.
I am very glad to learn that you was in good health where you last wrote, that was a week ago, but I trust you are well yet, and for anything we know you are at the same place yet. From the New York paper I can’t get one word about your Regt., Brigade, or Division, I guess they don’t count you much anyway. We occasionally see in a New Haven paper a letter from the 20th.
I can’t see why, when your part of the army is not doing much, that they should take the Sabbath for so much business. I should suppose there would be plenty of time during the week, to attend to Division reviews and &c, but I dare say [if] I should write to them about it, they wouldn’t take any notice of me.
You speak of your last Sabbath’s review as being a splendid sight2, I suppose it must have been very imposing, but it don’t seem to me as if I should have cared to see it. I suppose it is necessary for them to make a great display to try and create excitement and enthusiasm among the men, under which they could the more easily fare the dangers of the battlefield. You know I look upon it as a wicked and cruel business, [in] spite of all the fine display.
I am indebted to our little busy lady for some of the extra flourishes in this, she is putting up to the table with me, and writing “Papa’s lellie”. She says “come Papa, come and see your daughter.” She will smooth your picture caressingly with her hand and say “poor Papa, gone war, toot, bang”. She has get up to the window now, singing “Papa” at the top of her voice. She seems pretty well now, I tell you some of her prattle because I know you will be interested, but you lose the most of it by not being able to see the motions, and maneuvers, and sweet childish ways which she uses to make herself understood.
Sabbath eve, I have got baby to sleep and have set me down to write you a while. How I wish I might have you here, instead of dabbling with pen, ink, and paper, but as I can’t have you, I am very thankful for this medium of conversing with you. When I stopped writing this afternoon I took Louise out to the barn, she is as happy as a lark if I will let her roll in the hay. When she has stayed long enough, and wants to come in, she will say “come I go tell Grandma where been, see Fanny3, see Katy4, see rooster.”
She sings (in her way) “Papa’s way down in Dinkee” (Dixie), I took her up tonight and asked her if she couldn’t sing it, she said, “No can’t, I so tired”. When I ask her to do anything that she don’t want to she will say, “No, can’t, not a bit, at all”. She has taken a notion for a few days past to say, “hey” every time almost that she is spoken to; you may keep saying over the same thing, and she will look up every time and say “hey?”. I don’t see how she came to get such a habit, I hope she will get broke of it for it is annoying to me; I try to think of it, and not take any notion when she asks a question over in that way; in hopes she will drop it.
I hope you have by this time got the few things which I sent you in the Capt.’s box5, they were so jammed in that I was fearful that the bottles of medicine I put in would get broke, and spoil your edibles. I didn’t send as much as I wanted to, but if you stay where I can I will send you some more before long. I could have sent double what I did, without any more expense for freight if I could have sent by the Adams & Co. Express6. I had a bottle of nice little pickles put up for you, and they couldn’t find room for them, but if they keep good, I will send them to you sometime, and the sausages, they took them from the paper I had them done up in, and tucked them around in [unintelligible] but if the box gets to you, I guess you will [unintelligible] enough for one taste.7
Mary Anna has sent you the note enclosed in this, she has had it written a long time, but hasn’t had the courage to send it, she said, “her hand trembled like everything when she wrote it”, she didn’t see what made it for it didn’t when she wrote to Will. Sometime when you have time you might write her a letter, she would be so pleased, and if you should send it by mail to her, I suppose she would think she was in town, she had her letter carefully sealed up so I haven’t seen it.
Addison Smith made a flying visit to Hamden last week, I didn’t see her, she has never seen Jane’s baby before. Mr. Thorn made quite a visit in New York [on] New Year’s. He brought home for New Year’s presents to Ann and Mary breast pins made from Jane’s hair, they are very nice; they must value them very highly. It seems as if he was made of money, for he dresses very nice, gets his baby nice clothes, and &c., and makes them a good many presents, besides paying his board.
Christmas and New Year’s didn’t come to our house much in the shape of presents; (strange, isn’t it?) and I guess they weren’t very lavish down your way.
Mrs. O’Bryan wanted me to ask you if you missed the neck of that chicken, which I sent you. When I asked Robert to kill it, she said after he had gone to catch it, that he didn’t like to kill fowls, and never would kill one for her, but he wouldn’t refuse when I asked him (we hadn’t had one killed before this season). She laughed all the time, she said she didn’t believe he would get its head off, we heard him strike three or four times, he was chopping wood at his door, and when I went out to get the chicken, he said he didn’t know as he did it very good, and picked up the head, which was taken off so near the body that there was quite a mess of feathers in it and said if we saved the feathers, perhaps I would want to pick them off, I carried it in, and how Mrs. O’Bryan did laugh; she made up a yarn and went out and told him that I said I “would like him to kill another, and if he pleased, I would like him to cut off the neck a little nearer the head”. He was going off to the barn as honest as you please, when she screamed out “[unintelligible] rat!” He said he believed her and [could have] cut it off if he had had someone to hold it on the log for him.
I thank you my dear Husband for the candor with which you have explained your business and the deception you had practiced towards me regarding it, would that you had seen fit to have done it before: You say that “from the merest boy you have never thought it right for them (women) to have anything to do with business.” If you were brought up in that belief; I am sure that your maturer and better judgment must show you the fallacy of it. If a man marries and commences in that way, he plays the part of a deceiver to his wife, and lives a lie all the time, and I don’t believe that a man that does it, is hardly ever known to prosper.
A man never should marry a woman, unless they have some confidence at least in their judgment, and a husband and wife’s interests are one, and any woman of sense and judgement will try and accommodate her wants to her husband’s means, if she is permitted to know them.
When I married you I believed you to be the sort of truth and honor; and I felt as if I should take a deal of pride in saying (when occasion required), “my husband said so, and he wouldn’t tell me a falsehood” (I had been disgusted with seeing some of my married acquaintances made dupes of by their husbands), but not long after we was married, I detected in you a disposition to deceive me just a little. I know you didn’t think any harm; you didn’t look at such things in the light I did; but I felt it very keenly, it galled me and irritated me, and I am ready to admit that I didn’t take the right course regarding it. If I had have found less fault with you; perhaps you would have been more frank with me.
For several days after Mrs. Dolittle called here, I scarcely thought of anything else, I had been well convinced many times that you wasn’t always candid with me regarding your business, but it was hard for me to think that you would have left, when it was very uncertain whether you ever came back, without telling me about that, but as far as that is concerned we will let by-gones be by-gones and I trust that I may conduct myself in such a manner hereafter that you may think me worthy of your confidence, in even little difficulties.
I have ever been more to blame than you have, yours were as a genuine thing more errors of judgment than mine, and I know that you have borne with my pettiness more patiently than most husbands would. When things don’t go along about right, it annoys and irritates me very much, and I am very much too apt to let folks know it; I don’t always have the charity for others’ faults that I would wish them to have for me. My judgment teaches me better but somehow my natural propensity and deficiency in my early training gets the better of my judgment. I know that I have been very unkind to you sometimes, I can’t see why I should be for I do love you dearly. I suppose you can’t forget it, but I hope you can forgive me, it has caused me many unhappy hours, and many times I have made up my mind that I never would be unkind to you again for I felt and knew that you was a dear kind Husband, but first I knew I would forget, and be at it again, but if the Lord spares you to come home to me again, I hope and trust I shall have better control over myself, and treat you more as you deserve.
I see I have no more room this time so goodnight my dear husband, if I have said anything to offend you please forgive and love your devoted wife,
Carrie A. Burleigh
[P.S.] Mother sends love. I haven’t said half I had in my mind to say to you, but I guess I have written more than you will care to read. If there was a little more put into the quality, and less into the quantity, it would balance better. I know when I have some postage stamps in hand I sometimes put in a few in your letters, but if you want me to send you more than I do, please let me know, I ain’t so apt to have so many on hand as when they were used for change8 but I can get them at the office.
[P.P.S.] I wish you would speak of things you would like sent to you, for I would be glad to send you anything that you think you would like. You won’t tell me what you want me to send you no more than you used to tell me what you wanted for a meal. I should think you might have learned better before this time, I shall be sending again one of these days, so please to tell me what you want, or I won’t send you a bit of a kiss. God bless and keep you from suffering and all harm my dear husband.
Cheshire, Connecticut ↩
In Cecil’s letter of January 4th, he wrote:
It was a grand sight to see so many well drilled men going through the different field evolutions. There was about twenty thousand men and eighteen pieces of artillery. Each brigade had to so all the others pass by in order, I suppose to give them confidence in their strength, at best it would have that affect, you yourself could not have helped feeling the influence of such a body of men all marching in solid columns with their banners waving and their bright weapons gleam in the sun while gaily dressed officers were galloping round on spirited horses. Taken all together it was a sight not easily to be forgotten. ↩
Fanny was Cecil’s and Caroline’s horse. ↩
Katy was the family milk cow. ↩
Adams Express Co. was one of the largest delivery companies at the time of the Civil War. ↩
On the same day, Cecil wrote of receiving these sausages:
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. ↩
Due to the unstable political situation surrounding the Civil War, people had begun hoarding all of the metal coins they could obtain, leading to large shortages. Businesses had a very difficult time making change without coins, so there was an unofficial movement to using postage stamps as a stopgap measure. The government soon picked up on this, and started printing “fractional currency” — postage stamps printed on little sheets of paper in coinage-based values. ↩