September 21st, 1862

Mount Carmel Sept 21st/62

My dear, dear, husband,

I received your letter written last Sabbath by Wednesday’s mail and answered it the same night, whether you have, or will receive it, of course, I don’t know. You told me that I needn’t expect the letter last week, but I couldn’t but look for one, a little last night; and when I found that Mark’s wife had one from him, I almost thought (for a moment) that you might have written me a line, but forgive me, it was only momentarily, for a second sober thought told me that you would have written if you had have had a convenient opportunity.

I was feeling unusually anxious last night for the papers told us that the 20th Regiment was order to march last Tuesday into Virginia, probably to Leesburg. I hear that Mark writes that you are at Arlington Heights, I do hope that you won’t be sent off where I can’t hear from you often; for it seems as if it weren’t for the relief your letters being, I wouldn’t bear the separation.

Oh! I miss you more and more every day. It seems as if Saturday night must bring you home, and today, the Sabbath, when relieved from the trial and cares of the week, Oh! how I long to see your dear face and to hear your view of sympathy, and as I sit here and see families going by to church unbroken as yet by this cruel war, my heart rebels, I say to myself, “why couldn’t this have been spared me? Why couldn’t I have kept my husband too?” I try to school myself into submission, I try to feel that the hand of the Lord is laid upon me for my good, and I must submit, but there are times when it seems more than I can bear.

I am not writing thus to trouble you, you know very well that I can’t help but feel very bad. You will be willing that I should, once, and the while, receive my part of feeling to you, my dear husband, won’t you?

But you shouldn’t worry about it, thinking that I am making every one around me miserable. I pride myself that I am behaving remarkable well. To most people, I appear very cheerful, so much so that I don’t say some will say that I don’t care anything about it; we had a houseful this morn, most of them came, I presume, to see “if she felt bad”. Trying, isn’t it?

Everything about the war looks so discouraging to me, if it must deprive me of my best earthly friend, I could feel more reconciled to it if I could feel that those high in power were actuated by motives half as noble as those which fill your breast, but to have you sacrificed for the aggrandizement of ambition of those who hold high office, instead of your countries good, seems more then I can put up, and be quiet.

I wrote you the other morning that baby had been sick, but was better. She is not better, but she seems quite out of [it] yet, her stomach and bowels are in rather of a bad state and she has a sore mouth. Her gums look dreadfully sour, she can’t eat anything. If she was weaned it seems as if she must starve, she isn’t sick enough so she is around the house, but is very worrisome. I haven’t had a good nights rest with her in a week, if her mouth doesn’t seem better in a day or two, I shall get someone to carry me down to New Haven and show her to Dr. Ives. I rather think she will be better soon, don’t worry about her, every thing shall be done for her that lays in my power to restore her to her usual health.

When the bell rung for church1 this morning she began to run around to find “Papa”, I think she had been dreaming about you the other day, she opened her eyes and look up at me very wistfully, says she: “Eh: Papa come, see baby?” I told her no, you hadn’t come, but she couldn’t get over it, she talked about it for some time. She is a darling. How many times she unconsciously makes my heart throb, well nigh to bursting with her innocent prattle. God grant that she may be spared, and that you may be spared to come home to her.

While I set here this afternoon in our pleasant, though lonely, home, I can’t but wonder what you are about. I wish I could take to myself wings, and fly down there and see whether you are comfortably situated, and well, and happy, or not (rather of a clumsy winged messenger I would make, hey!).

I wrote my last [letter] so soon after receiving yours that I hardly had time to realize as much about your weary journey as I did in perusing your letter again. I have felt so worried for you that you slept that night on the ground, without any blankets. If you hadn’t yours, I should have thought your comrades would have insisted on sharing theirs with you2. How tired, worn out, and exhausted you must have been. I am afraid you are feeling the effects of it more now then you were then. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of you sleeping on the hard ground in the open air. Oh, I wish I could have persuaded you to have stayed at home; the drafted men are all getting clear. Be prudent, save yourself all you can for the sake of your loved ones at home, remember how much your life is worth to us.

I am much sorry that we didn’t have more of your pictures taken; for I find that Aunt [unintelligible] and Aunt Chloe, Libby Peck, and Mrs. Edward would have thought very much of one. I don’t know, but if I can get a chance to attend to it and the negative isn’t destroyed, I shall have some more struck off. I don’t know as I can afford it, they are trying to break me, I am bound I won’t spend any of that which I intended to put in the bank. You know that besides that you gave me two 2-dollar bills and the $20 that the meals and other things took one of the two’s. I settled with Shilas, there was 40 cents then due between our bill and the hay bill, and he brought in a bill for team wash of $1.50 so there went nearly all of the other two, then the next day Mr. Dudly called, I paid him $11.00. The next day Dennis called for the tax $3.00 more, so you see, I can’t be very flush with my presents.

Monday morn – I was obliged to leave my writing yesterday as I had a severe headache and went to bed sick, I haven’t had one of my sick headaches before since you left. I missed you much, [and] feel better this morning.

I must proceed to business, I told you when I wrote that Boss Ed had sold his horse and that Elford came up Wednesday morning to get Fanny3 to use a little. They haven’t brought her back yet, I guess they are using her considerably, but Boss takes pains to stop and tell me how well they feed her, how well he understands her, and if he keeps her a while, he will have her in better shape then when he took her (I hope he will for the poor thing was all run down), and he says if I want to go anywhere Elford will come and take me. Clever, ain’t he? You of course can see all of the maneuvers in imagination but he won’t promise to take her and keep her through the winter without help from us, and he don’t know but he shall have to take his horse back again, it seems he has had a letter from the man he sold to saying that the horse ain’t what he supposed it to be. If he should keep Fanny I think he ought to say how much money, or hay, he thought he must have for keeping her; instead of being allowed to come and get hay when he chooses. I told him the other day that if he kept her, all I would ask would be to have him do by you just as he would want you to do by him under similar circumstances.

About Henry’s taking her, was he to dispense of her if he had a chance? As soon as he saw that Mr. Ed had her, he came to me and said nothing about keeping her himself, said that if Mr. Edward would take her and keep her through the winter he would advise me to let him have her; but he wouldn’t let him have her to use through the fall, while she could pick her living out, and then when it come cold weather, fling her back onto me again. He said that he had heard that Eben Warner had a cow to sell and wanted to get a horse, so I suppose he thought that he could perhaps make the trade, butcher the cow, pay me for the horse if he was a mind to, and I told him before I would have the horse sold to be used hard, I would send her to the bone mill. Oh he said, he wouldn’t do that, for 30 or 40 dollars4 was worth having (what do you think of the price?). I told him I should write and see what you thought about it, you probably have seen this Mr. Warner at the blacksmiths shop, Mr. Ed says that he is the kindest man living with a horse, doesn’t grain much, but never uses them hard. If such be the case (if you thought it best), I should have no objections to his having her but I should want the money for her in hand because he might not like her (you know that if anyone didn’t understand her, they wouldn’t get along with her as well as you would), and might want to turn her off. If so, I should want it understood with him (if you were willing) that I should have a chance to buy her back again, I should want the money to put in the bank when I could get at it for that purpose, if I was a mind to. If Henry made the trade, do you suppose he would pay me the money?

Oh! Dear, I wish old Fanny would drop down dead, write and tell me what I had better do, you know we want to keep on good terms with Henry and still I can’t help be but suspicious of him. I don’t know but you would think I was very foolish to have her sold on condition that I could buy her back again, if so, tell me so, I can make up my mind to have her sold (I’ve greater trouble now) but yet you know how I feel about it.

Robert is going to cut up the corn in the back lot today, I am going to try and get Elford and his father to come with Fanny, and draw it down and put it back at the house. He (Robert) is going to get off the potatoes this week, so we can pasture there.

I think if you stay where we can, we shall be thinking of sending a box to you boys before long. If we should, write and tell me what you want most. Libby Peck wished to be especially remembered to you, Mother sends lots of love and good wishes, and baby wants to “see Papa”.

If you should be taken sick won’t you have someone telegraph to me immediately? Remember what I said to you about wearing a wet handkerchief in your cap to prevent sunstroke5.

Ed Dwight I have not seen to speak to since you went away, has there anything been done about that business? I suppose he will be off before long6.

Remember me to all acquaintances.

That God may protect you, shield you from dangers, and bring you safe home to me is the most ernest prayer of your devoted wife,


  1. The Burleigh residence was immediately next-door to the Mount Carmel Congregational Church

  2. She is speaking of the first night that the 20th spent in Washington, D.C. The mens knapsacks, blankets, and tents were being transported separately (probably by wagon), and did not catch up with the marching column until late night or early morning, resulting in the men spending a September evening without any protection whatsoever. 

  3. “Fanny” is Cecil’s and Caroline’s horse that they are trying to sell. Cecil writes to Carline about this in his letter authored on the same day

  4. $35 in 1862 is roughly equal to $1,000 USD in 2013. 

  5. In Caroline’s letter of the 17th, she wrote:

    Whenever you are obliged to be out in the hot sun, remember and wet your handkerchief and lay it in your cap, will you? 

  6. Edward Dwight Dickerman owed Cecil and Caroline $50, roughly equivalent to $1,190 in 2014. At this time, he was briefly visiting his hometown before returning to his employment in Jacksonville, Illinois.