Mt. Carmel, Wednesday eve, Jan 28th, 1863
My own dear husband,
I hate to let this evening pass without writing to you, but I don’t think I will be able to write much, for I have a hard headaches, and pain across the back of my neck (you know it is nothing strange for me to have the headache). My poor miserable head troubles me very much; my hand is very unsteady tonight for I haven’t been taking anything stronger than tea; but I have been sweeping the church today, and sweeping always makes my hands tremble. Speaking of tea makes me think I have been trying to think to ask you when I have written, if a little good tea if you had it wouldn’t be a comfort to you sometimes; a cup of boiling water poured onto a small tea spoonful of green tea, and let stand a few moments, makes as good a cup of tea as can be made. I will send you some when I have a chance if you can use it, black tea can’t be made in that way, that wants boiling.
I received your letter last night, written Friday, and I can’t find words to express how much I sympathize with you in your troubles, and how anxious I am for you all the time.1
I had got thus far last night, and Mr. Lucius Ives2 called (I had a letter from Willie in the yesterday mail, and they thought it might be from you, and Mrs. Ives was so anxious to hear about Brainard that he came up in the storm to see about it), he stayed as much as an hour, and my trying to talk with him brought on my headache so severely, that I could hardly set up ‘till he went away, so there was the end of writing for last night. When I have a hard headache of late, it seems as if it was very much worse than it used to be, there is more neuralgia about it, I had a terrible pain in my head most all night; and don’t feel very smart today, but am going to try to write a few lines to go in the today’s mail, I am like to have some help about it, for as soon as Louise saw me get my writing materials, she drew a chair up to the table and says, “Momma get me pentie, I write Papa letter.”
Yesterday morning, before I supposed she was awake, she says, “Mama I like to see Papa.” Mr. Miller came for some milk before we were up, we could hear him talk with Mother downstairs, baby lay and listened without saying anything until he went out, and then she looked up at me, and says, “What did Dinky tell about it, Mama?” She calls every man “Dinky”.
Aunt Sarah got a few lines from Ezra Day (in the same mail that I got your last), written Saturday saying that you were at Stafford Court house, and were to be sent out on picket, and said that Brainard and Austin was with you; you spoke of leaving them, so I supposed they must have followed on.3
I can tell you I thought scold pretty hard, when I read your letter, I had seen from the papers that the reserve force4 were badly stuck in the mud, and I was longing, yet dreading, to hear from you. It seems to me that such a march must use you all up, I think it is an abominable outrage upon all laws of humanity, attempts to move an army through such mud and storm, but I have made up my mind that humanity is something that military laws and Gen’s know nothing about, the officers that go round in the storm, protected by waterproof clothing and have good shelter at night, cares not a straw if my husband and hundreds of others are suffering and dying from exposure, if their news can be lauded in the newspapers as accomplishing such a march so and so through innumerable obstacles and &c.
Mr. Ives was saying last night that the boys would have gone in and whipped out all Virginia before this time if the Gen’s could have been out of the way to keep them back of their petty jealousies and rivalries.
The night that you wrote about being so bad off, I was thinking of you very much, but tried to hope that you hadn’t broke camp. You say I would have shed tears of sympathy if I could have seen you, there is scarce a day my dear husband, but I do that, and I know that I can’t begin to realize how much you endure, and I dare say if I could see just how badly off you are, I should be almost distracted, for at times now, I feel as if I could not, and would not be reconciled to you staying there and suffering so much, and then my heart sinks within me as I feel my utter incapacity to do anything to make your situation any more comfortable. I am feeling very anxious about you, it seems as if I could not expect to hear that you was well, it don’t seem to me to be possible for you to go through so much without being sick, and then you had to lose your blanket.
Poor fellow how much you must suffer, you must try and replace your blanket some way or another. I feel now as if I was very much to blame for not sending you some money for I suppose now that you wasn’t paid off before you marched, and I hear you have suffered for the want of it, I should have done so, if you did tell me not to, but I kept seeing by the papers that they were paying off the army, and I supposed you would have your pay before you marched.
I feel so provoked to think they sent you off on picket with no chance to rest, or dry your clothes or anything, do be prudent and vigilant when out on picket and not volunteer to get in any more danger than necessary, won’t you? Picket duty I see spoken of as being dangerous in some places. I don’t know how it is just where you are.
I can have no sort of an idea what they mean to do with you, such a change of army officers is of course going to make delay. If they use you in the way they have, there won’t be enough of you left to do anything with; they say Sergt. Beckwith and another soldier from your company are home, discharged. I would like to see Mr. Beckwith. The remains of Rice from Chesire5 went up past here in the cars yesterday, I believe he was from your company, but I am not sure, from the regiment anyway.
You had something of a sore throat the last time but one you wrote, I should suppose your march would have made it much worse. You must take Dr. Foots pills. You haven’t said whether you found them I sent in the Capt’s box they were in a tin box and marked with your name.
Much love and many kisses from your affectionate wife, Carrie.
Do take care as good care of yourself as you possible can under the circumstances, and that I know is poor enough. Mother sends love. Report says that Kate Perkins is expecting soon to assume a new responsibility.6
Sadly, this letter has been lost. It was written while on a very arduous march in nasty weather. ↩
The 20th Connecticut was part of the reserve force that had been ordered to move. ↩
Catherine Perkins was expecting and would have her son in late March. At this time, the culture was very private regarding pregnancy and birth — so much so that they would avoid the terms and instead use “assume a new responsibility” and “in a family way”. ↩