January 27th, 1863

Stafford Courthouse Jan 27th /63

Dear wife,

If you get all my letters now you can’t be much disappointed when you go to the post office for I have written this makes three in five days; but they have been very unsatisfactory to me for I have not spent more than 15 minutes on any of them and when one is tired in body and mind it is hard to collect one’s thoughts.1

You say you cannot help being anxious about me.2 I know that, and I will confess there is room for anxiety, but that God who has brought me safe thus far is able to restore me once again to you, and not only me but also to restore our beloved country to its former prosperity and I believe He will do it in His own good time. Justice must prevail in the end and the right established. I have no such unkind feelings against the people of this state but they need the influences of education and Christianity more than any people I ever saw. Perhaps you think it a poor way to reform them, to lay waste their country and destroy their habitations but desperate diseases need energetic treatment and war has carried civilization to more than one country.

Before the proclamation of freedom to the blacks3 I began to fear we were fighting in vain but now we are fighting in a noble cause, we are fighting to save from bondage, not only four millions of people but all future generations, this thought has kept up my faith and made my strength hold out where others have failed.

You say you are glad to find that the finer feelings of our nature has been cherished on our long and weary marches.4 Now I have always been fond of beautiful scenery but I have never enjoyed them so much as I did on that first march, but we had no such pleasure on the one just completed, on the contrary it was dreary enough it damped all energy of body and mind it was plodding in mud mire and rain in a country so poor that a pismire5 would have to carry a haversack to keep from starving to death but thank God we have lived through it.

You say I seem to like the Col. better, I will say he is kind to me but I have not much respect for his character though it is possible I am not yet acquainted with him. He is a study for me, and when I make up my mind I will tell you what I think of him. What Miss Pardee said is manifestly untrue, Sergt. Paddock is well and Sergt. Beckwith has been discharged and sent home, Sergt. Bradley is here, he was brought though in an ambulance but he is not sick much I think for he is around all the time and has a good appetite.

I am glad you like to take care of Fanny6 and I have no doubt she looks well. I know everything you have in charge will not suffer for want of care, and I have no doubt you have your hands full and heart too to look out for our little hopeful, she must be [an] excellent help in doing the chores. I think the corn has lasted well and shows that you are economical. This is all I shall answer of your first letter. I will now turn to the last.

I am glad you got the check7 but I fear that you won’t get that forty or fifty I spoke of very soon, we have been paid for one and a half months’ only. My pay for that time is 30 dollars, I will send you ten of that when I find a safe opportunity. If I had been paid to the first of this month it would have been over 70 dollars [and] I could have spared you 50 very well but I suppose you can wait.

I presume I was mistaken about the deviltry but I thought from what was in the letter you first sent that I did not get all you sent. I knew it was no fault of yours and I thought not of the Capt.’s.

I thought you had better not send any more boxes because it is expensive business and it seemed to me then that you were short of funds and was pinching yourself to send to me, that being the case I could take no comfort eating the goodies. I never thought you begrudged me any thing, I know it is natural to you to tell me of your business affairs and I am interested in them but you need never figure up your accounts to convince me that you spend no money foolishly for I am fully persuaded of that fact. I do not think it strange that you should get short of money, I know too well how it goes. I don’t want you to go shabbily dressed, nor make a recluse of yourself, it is better for you to go among folks and keep up with the times a little better so you may know how to train your child to avoid the evil and retain the good of society. No matter how bright a person’s intellect may be they need the contact of other minds to develop their own.

I suppose that Doct. Stillman remembered me because he left his nephew in my care, I saw him a good deal in camp in New Haven. I am sorry you are getting so old in feeling but I suppose the cares of life weigh heavily on you now.

That was a sad case of Mrs. Butler’s brother 8 and this war furnishes many such. The Orderly of Co. D, the next Co. to us, died and was sent home a week ago. I knew him well, he was a fine fellow and left a wife and two or three children to the tender mercies of the world.9

You say our child is likely to make some such a singer as her father. I will say if she don’t make much music she’s likely to make some noise in the world; I always thought she would make a genius but I did not think she would show so soon what she would be — you must educate her for the stage.

We are now in camp near Stafford Courthouse (not Stratford as I wrote in my last). We shall be likely to stay here a while (the mud is so deep we can’t move). It is only three miles to the steamboat landing, anything sent to the Regt. will get here as promptly as it would at Fairfax.

The weather continues rainy and unpleasant and I think it will [be so] for some time; we have no tents and probably will have none but we make a shelter of our blankets (I have got another woolen one) and keep as comfortable as possible. There is plenty of wood here but our clothes are wet most of the time.

You want I should keep on good terms with the Capt. I shall do so but I can’t help comparing him with Lieut. Doolittle much to his (Capt. D’s) disadvantage. The Lieut. will go without anything to keep the men comfortable while the Capt. don’t seem to care what takes the rest if he is provided for. The Lieut. and I have the sole care of the Co. except on drill. Lieut. Spruce is at home sick.

Now I have written you a long letter but have said enough for this time. I will write again soon, goodnight and much love and many kisses for you and the baby, give my love to Aunt Sarah and all my friends,

Your devoted husband,

C A Burleigh


  1. Of those three letters, only one exists. 

  2. Cecil is responding to Caroline’s letter of the 15th

  3. The Emancipation Proclamation

  4. Caroline writes in her letter of the 15th:

    I am happy to learn that in your tiresome and weary marches the refined and better feelings of your nature have been quickened instead of deadened; It would seem that such a tax on the judicial system would be apt to have a bad effect on the mind. 

  5. “Pismire” is an archaic term for an ant. 

  6. Fanny was Cecil’s and Caroline’s horse. 

  7. Cecil wrote more about this check in his letter of the 11th

  8. Caroline wrote in her letter of the 18th:

    I came down from church with Mrs. Butler, her brother’s remains have been brought in to New Haven, the funeral is tomorrow. His name was [Richard Fowler]()(https://familysearch.org/tree/#view=ancestor&person=K4R4-VHH), he was Orderly Sergeant, he was so badly wounded in the battle of Fredericksburg that he had (I hear) an arm and a leg amputated, and only lived a few days. He has been dead some 4 weeks. He has a wife and two children in New Haven. She says it is the first death out of a family of 11 children. She has more brothers in the army. 

  9. Henry S. Geer passed away on the 17th, and left his wife, four daughters, and one son.