My Dear Husband,
I received your letter from Washington tonight and hasten to answer it. Ten thousand thanks dear husband, for your thoughtfulness in sending me a line at every opportunity along your route. You can scarcely know how much comfort it was to me.
I am very thankful to hear that you are better, God grant that your health may continue to improve. You went away so near sick, that I was very anxious about you. Poor fellow, I don’t see how you even stood such a tiresome journey and scarcely anything to eat either. I declare it is too bad; you poor fellows who sacrifice so much for your country, [and] aught to be better cared for, I am afraid that you are more tired and worn out that you are aware of.
Now, being under so many excitements, and your not having your blankets with you, I fear you will take cold. It seems pretty hard to me to think of you sleeping on the hard ground, in the open air, when I have such a comfortable place to sleep. It don’t seem hardly fair; you take as good care of yourself as you, avoid all unnecessary danger, for the sake of your dear ones at home. Remember that bravery isn’t foolhardiness.
Your speaking of being in the hot sun reminds me that I meant you should have taken a [unintelligible] of sponges, it is said to be an excellent thing to wet and wear in the cap to prevent sunstroke. Whenever you are obliged to be out in the hot sun, remember and wet your handkerchief and lay it in your cap, will you?
I hope they are not going to put you where you will come into immediate danger from the enemy. If such should be the case, remember all I told you before you left, if you should be likely to be called into action, hadn’t I better have one of those vests1 sent on to you?
It is one week tonight since we spent our last night together (for the present at least) and it seems to me a month. You had (since you became a soldier) been away 3 to 4 days at a time so the first few days didn’t seem so strange to me, but I can tell you, now it begins to come to me as if it was high time to see you, and I hardly dare to think that weeks, months, perhaps years, must pass before I can see you; and that perhaps that privilege may never be allowed me here; but this last is too much. No, I can’t but think that God will hear my prayers, and bring you safely back. If I allowed myself to think other ways I should be distracted, but if it is so ordered that we may never meet here, may we so live, my dear husband, that we may be prepared to meet in a happier world.
We are all very well except baby, Monday she was threatened quite bad with the dysentery. We checked that; but last night she vomited quite often through the night. She has been rather better today, although she is quite weak and worrisome, she didn’t get to sleep so as to let me commence this letter until between 8 and 9 o’clock, and I expect every moment when she will wake up.
I don’t expect to get much of a nights rest with her tonight, but yet I don’t think she is going to be any worse than she is, if she should be, I will write you again tomorrow. Oh, I miss your sympathetic ear, so much when she is sick, yes, I miss you all the time, but I aught not to say one word for I have a comfortable home and you have to miss your friends, and the comforts of home besides. You don’t complain, but I know it is hard on you, and I don’t feel as if I was bearing my share of the trouble. You have my most heartfelt sympathies, but that is not food and lodging, is it!
I feel very thankful to all of them for their attention to you, and especially the surgeon, he has my sincere thanks, and my most earnest prayers that his life may be spared to his country, and that he may be brought back to his dear ones at home.
P.S. [unintelligible] tonight for when speaking of trying to sleep on the cars said the door slammed against your sore, if that gets no better, won’t you speak to the Dr. about it?
At the beginning of the war, these “armor” vests were very common to find in a peddlers stock. They were typically constructed of two pieces of metal with large padded shoulder hooks on them. Each piece would slip into one side of the front of a fabric military-style vest, and when the vest was buttoned, the plates would overlap.
Although some of the vests manufactured were found to be bullet-proof when fired at from long distances, and did save several lives, they were typically one of the first items of baggage to be discarded. The primary reason was the weight - the soldiers were already carrying 40 to 50 pounds of gear, so toting a 6 to 12 pound vest that was hot and uncomfortable was unreasonable. Another reason was that many soldiers did not want to have the stigma of a “coward” attached to themselves.
In Cecil’s response to this letter he states that Caroline had better not buy him a vest; as he could purchase them easily enough around Washington for $2 a piece (the going price for the vests was around $5-$12)
This is the end of the scanned letter – there is probably an additional lost sheet where Caroline finishes up and signs off. The P.S. is written in the margin of the first page. ↩