November 30th, 1862

Dear Wife,

I received your last Sunday’s letter1 last night and read it with pleasure, except that portion of it that told how hard you work. I am sorry you think it necessary to wear yourself out for fear you may come to want.

You write like a Christian, if you profess to be one I pray you to act accordingly and keep your mind free from worldly care. Don’t you recall how Martha was rebuked for being careful and troubled about many things, while Mary was commended for opposite cares? I would like you to read from the sixth chapter of Matthew, commencing at the 25th verse and finish the chapter2. You may find in this if you read carefully some valuable hints. If I read the Bible right, it is expected that the Christian will trust all to Christ, know that all things will ultimately work for their good.

Now, neither Christianity nor philosophy (your letter treated of both) would sustain anybody in working beyond their strength and I know that necessity does not compel you to at present and I ask as a favor that you will turn off part of your work.

You spoke of friend Thorne, I am glad to hear that he is turning from the error of his ways and I hope he may find what the country so much needs, peace.

I have never written you about our chaplain3 for I knew nothing about him except his sermons, for I have not seen him to speak to him but once or twice since we came out. I went into his tent one evening but failed to get into conversation with him. He seems very assured, in fact he is of no use here except only to drain his pay, for it does no good to preach without taking any interest in the congregation. I would give a month’s pay to exchange him for Mr. Putmun.

You spoke of the long storm, I was away most of that week and was wet to the skin for three days at a time and I thought it was a cold storm. It came near using me up but I guess I shall come out alright soon.

I went to Harpers Ferry Thanksgiving day. I intended to have a picture taken to send to you but was too late. I found some old friends from York state there, two Lieut.’s, and helped them to eat a large turkey. I heard directly from home which did me much good. The folks4 were all well. I am sure I did not eat too much nor drink too much, but I felt bad all day Friday and yesterday, and I could not sit up this morning.

I felt better but thought I would go to the Dr’s. He gave me some blue pills 5. I threw them into the fire and took some of Brandreth’s that I got from Sgt. Paddock. They have not operated yet, I will take some more soon if I don’t hear from them.

You asked why I was not in a mess with Sgt’s Paddock and Beckwith now. I have as much respect as ever [for them]. I had and I consider Beckwith a perfect gentleman but it’s a shaft in that they are on the left of the Co. and I am on the right and according to the military regulations we must take separate messes. We have not always done this but when we commenced to build log houses the Captain put the restrictions onto all but me, but I thought I would not take the favor so I went where I belonged.

I was surprised to hear how the nine months men showed the white feather in leaving Middletown. Brave defenders of their country, they would not have enlisted if were not for fear. They will make gallant soldiers. I despise anything sneaking as cowardly and I have not pity for such as those when they have been in service and endured cold and hunger and lain in the snow and gone with wet clothes for days in cold weather, and born it all without a murmur. We will call them good soldiers worthy to be compared with the 20th.

You spoke of Austin and Ives, now they are good company and kind hearted. There is not a man in the Co. that has done so much to make things go smooth as Austin. I know he uses some profane language but is not half so profane as our Col. Brainard hardly ever uses profane language but I think he is much the hardest at home. I find there is no one without some good traits of character and I have sometimes thought that circumstances makes the man.

You say H.S.6 has brought you poor wood, this should not be, he agreed to bring good wood except one log of soft maple which I agreed to take.

You make me homesick when you say “here we are in our pleasant sitting room. Grandma, and Mother, and Baby”. I would like to make the circle complete, but I must wait with patience. What you write of the baby is a comfort to me, though I am sorry she has any disposition to stutter. You must not let anyone tickle her for that will make her stammer worse. I heard of an instance where a child was learning to talk and show no signs of stammering but after [being] violently tickled by it’s grandpa stammered the worst way. You may laugh at this, but I believe it and have had its cause explained to me and I know you will respect my whims if you have no faith in them yourself.

You think it about time to have our dress coats, it seems we are not to have any, only lined blouses. I took one of these and put it over the old one. In that way I can go out some without my overcoat. I don’t think we shall get any pay ‘till the first of January. I think I have money enough to last ‘till that time, but most of the boys are short.

I have told you about the box you sent, it came in good shape, every article in good order, the mittens are large but I am just as thankful to Mother. I think I can get along without gloves. Tell Aunt Sarah that the pie she sent was very nice and I am obliged to her for it.

There is much more that I should like to write but I can’t do it today. If I felt able I would copy this and not send you such a looking letter as this. Joel upset my ink and blotted my paper slightly.

Remember me to all my friends. Tell mother that those pears she sent are first rate, they are not all gone yet.

Many kisses for you and the baby, goodnight. Your devoted husband,

Cecil A. Burleigh.

P.S. I forgot to tell you that we have got some tents.7 I think we shall stay here all winter if so we shan’t have very hard times hereafter, but I am more discontented than when moving about. CAB

  1. This letter of Caroline’s no longer exists. 

  2. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow:for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

  3. David P. Sanford was the chaplain of the 20th Connecticut at this time. 

  4. “The folks” are likely Cecil’s father and siblings (his mother had passed away several years prior). Cecil grew up in a full household on a small farm in New York. Supposedly, this household wasn’t the healthiest and he was apprenticed out at just 13 years old. 

  5. “Blue pills”, or “Blue mass” was the name of a mercury-based medicine that was commonly prescribed for almost any health complaint during the time. A typical dose (2-3 pills) contained over one hundred times the safe daily ingestion limits of mercury, as set by the EPA (source). 

  6. Probably Henry Street Dickerman, son of Sarah Dickerman, and therefor a first cousin of Caroline. 

  7. From the time enlistment until now, the 20th Connecticut had gone without tents. Apparently, these were A-tents, not shelter-halves, which they did not receive until early 1863.