Camp near Harpers Ferry
I did not intend to write you another letter this week but your anxiety to know if I had received all your letters induced me to make the effort. I think that I have received all your letters up to the 4th instance and answered the same replying to all your questions, there was some time that I did not get any but they have all come to hand.1
Mr. Paddock got your [letter] and promised all you asked and more, the rest assenting. If you look out so sharp for me all the time I guess I shall be provided for. I have just had a good meal of beef steak, we live better now. If we don’t have to move we can live very well but I guess we start again before long, though I can’t tell.
In your last you seemed to be afraid that I should go into battle soon, but I don’t think so. If we do, the 15th will go with us for they are here. The 16th is also in this neighborhood so are the 8th and 11th and 21st. You seem despondent about the war but I think it will close before spring, not on account of battles won, but on account of our president’s doing justice to the oppressed. I believe in an overruling providence and when the nation is willing to do right they will triumph, and not before.
You wished me to make known to you my wishes in regards to Louise. I have no matured plan for I expected to be guided by circumstances, if she developed a talent for any useful business I want her educated for that. She may be an authoress or an artist or a teacher, or she may not be fitted for either, you can judge better when she is older whatever else she may be educated for. Don’t forget her moral training for upon that depends her usefulness. I would let her be with other children of the right sort, for children learn a great deal in that way, but I don’t want you to send her to school until she is seven years old. You can teach her ‘till that time yourself. I know you will never send her away to school unless it be where you can board with her.
As for yourself, if I should never come back I don’t want to give any directions, your love for me will prompt you to do justice to my memory and your good judgement will direct you in regard to business. I think you would do well to keep the house and sell all the property you may have, beside, you could rent the house or part of it and get enough to help you some about living. I trust you will not have to make use of these lines, if I go into battle I may write you more on this subject. If I fall without further notice and the boys mark the place, if it is not too expensive you may have my remains removed to Hamden where you can visit my remains.
My pistol has not been sent to you as I supposed, but is still at the quartermasters. I don’t know when it will be sent.2
Ed Dwight got his pay from the state but I guess he was short, he ought to have paid you before he left3. As for Dr. Swift, I don’t want him to beg for me but it would not be more than right for me to get $15.00 more for what I did.
I can’t write more at present but will write Sunday. If you send a box, state in a letter what you sent and how you sent it. You will have to prepay the Express Co. and take a receipt for it.
Give my love to mother, kiss baby for Papa.
I am better now than I have been since I have been here. You may send more of Dr. Foot’s pills if you have a chance. I think they did me good, I have 4 left.
Yours as ever,
C. A. B.
In many of his earlier letters, Cecil was continually asking Caroline to write more, as he wasn’t receiving any letters. Caroline responded, pleading to Cecil to quit accusing her of not writing; she had written four letters that week and yet none of them had arrived at their destination. Even in 1862, the U.S. mail service had a difficult time keeping up with the sheer volume of letters written to or from soldiers. A civilian worker in the U.S. Sanitary Commission reported in 1861 that most regiments sent about 600 letters per day, meaning that the typical soldier wrote around a letter every two of three days. Washington D.C. processed 45,000 pieces of mail per day from the soldiers in the eastern theatre of the war (in and around Virginia). ↩
In two prior letters (September 25th and 28th), Cecil wrote about sending his pistol back home. This was rather common among new recruits; they would arm themselves with pistols and knives, only to learn that these merely became yet another thing to have to carry and clean. ↩
Edward Dwight Dickerman was indebted to Cecil and Caroline $50, quite a sum in 1862: roughly equal to $1,000 in 2013. He worked and lived for the state of Illinois, but returned to Mount Carmel to visit family in 1862 and during that stay borrowed the $50. ↩