Mt. Carmel, Sabbath afternoon, Dec1
Dear, dear husband,
Thursday night I received your letter written last sabbath and was very glad to hear that you was better and that you had got fixed comparatively comfortable, and only the next day Mr. Beach2 called and left your watch and said that you were off for the seat of war. It came upon me so suddenly, the news of your long tedious march, and the watch right from your hands, &c. that I was too much overcome to say much to him. He said you was well and hearty for which I feel as if I couldn’t be sufficiently thankful.
Last night I received your line written on the eve of your departure in the evening. Maria Cook came down to bring me the word that you sent by Cook, so you see, your messages all reached me, but how I long to hear from you now. If I could only know that you was safe and well today, what a relief it would be to me, you can scarcely know how anxious I am about you, they all tell me that you will not get there in time to take part in the battle, but I don’t credit all I hear.
The latest news we have is that the great battle wasn’t begun, if so I am sure you will be there (if that is your destination) so that they can put you in battle if they choose. You say that you are as much in the hands of God there as at home, I know that, my dear husband, and I try to leave it all in His hands and feel that He doth all things well, but if in His providence He sees fit to send upon me the heaviest blow He could deal (by taking you), it would be hard, very hard, for this poor stricken heart to submit, but I must hope He has better things in store for me than to be left thus alone, and desolate, or I fear my heart would break. You are in almost every sense all I have, God in mercy spare you.
If this should ever reach you, I suppose it won’t until this impending battle if decided, but I don’t hope if you are called into action you will be through full and prayerful, and take all the necessary precautions that you can and I hope you won’t wear that conspicuous sash, I have much I want to say in this connection, but my heart is too full and my eyes are blinded by tears, and I also know that all that I can say and do, is of no avail. I can only leave you in the hands of God.
When I left writing yesterday, my head ached considerable, but I was in hopes if I kept still I shouldn’t be too sick to finish this when I got baby to sleep in the evening, but just at dark Uncle Orrin, Aunt Betsey3, and Elam4 came and stayed a while, I tried to talk to them, and by the time they got away I was too sick to hold up my head and I don’t feel very well today. In fact, I haven’t for a week, and have the headache most of the time. In less than a week I have had two spells of very severe sick headaches and vomiting. I don’t think I am going to be sick, I guess I have taken cold, which has set neuralgia to work some. I feel pretty lame and old.
I have always intended to ask you but never could think of it before, if you want me to have you informed if we should any of us be sick, or whether (as you probably couldn’t come to us) you would rather not have it to worry about? People feel differently about such things.
I want to know just how you are, and should feel hurt if anyone tried to deceive me about it, and if anything should happen to you and I could get there to be of the least use, or comfort, to you, I want you to have it arranged so that word can be got to me as quick as possible and I shall come to you if it takes all the money I can raise.
Elford Dickerman says he will go on with anyone that will pay his traveling expenses. He will look out for his own living. Uncle Orrin says if I should want to go, there could be a way found to have me go safe with someone, without paying their expenses, but I hope it won’t have to be so, I hope you will come to me instead of my going to you.
I hope you won’t all come home looking as hard as Mr. Beach5, he is a hard looking customer, and your watch looks as if it had been through all the wars that ever have been fought. The second hands are gone, post and all, and one of the other hands, I don’t see how they need to have been lost so. He said you wanted to have me get it repaired, I will try and do so when I have an opportunity, that is, if it isn’t going to cost more than the watch is worth. He said you had another one you had got in trade some way, I can’t divine what you had to trade off.
I felt disappointed in more ways than one to hear you had left, we, Aunt Sarah and I, was going to send on a [unintelligible] this week full of stuff. I was going to send you a good warm comfortable to keep you warm nights. You say you are glad you are going where it is warmer, but I am afraid it won’t be so well for you. I should rather trust you in a mountainous region to winter if it was cold than in a swampy one, for I would try and send you things to keep you warm, but I fear I couldn’t do anything to prevent you inhaling the disease you would be likely to among the swamps.
I am sorry I can’t send you some dysentery drops and Jacob’s pills, Ives has some of the drops I guess, so if you should want any go to him and put up quite a quantity and some pills in the box which went in the Capt. trunk. Have you used them all, or did you forget them?
I will send one or two postage stamps in this letter, I happen to be about out now, I will send some more soon.
I hope I shall hear soon whether you are alive and well. I do hope you won’t have to go into battle, I should think if you have to march 70 miles that you would all be tired out and half dead and certainly ought to have a chance to rest. It is impossible for me to conceive how you can endure it anyway, but I hope and trust you may have strength given you equal to what you have to perform.
It is a sad time we know that there is a terrible battle raging (Uncle Orrin had a paper with him last night, printed yesterday, with the account of the Saturday’s battle) and we know that if our friends are spared, that there will be thousands killed and thousands suffering worse than death, and the sounds of mourning will be heard from homes left desolate all over the country. Oh, the horrors of war, we here in peaceful homes can’t begin to realize them. I do hope that there hasn’t got to be much more bloodshed, I think they had better have been on both sides a little less “stubborn and willful”.
Just give up wearing your flannel drawers if you should be where it is warm for they are for your health. I gave Aunt Sarah one of your pictures the other day, and she gave me one of Summers for you, it is a good one of him I think.
Louise is pretty well, yesterday morning when she woke up, she set up in bed, and called you, she says “come Papa, come sit baby’s lap, I’ll tot, come Papa now mind”. I try to take her out as far as the barn at least every day to have her take the air. If you could see how happy she is when she gets out there, it makes the tears come in my eyes, when I see her running around the barn, for I think how much comfort you would take with her there. Last week, when the canal was frozen over, I drawed her on the ice on the children’s sled, she enjoyed it very much, but I expect it helped to make me lame. She has got so she can say part of “Mary had a little lamb”, in her way. She says “Mamy tad littlie nam, it peece site as now”, but the fun of it is to see the motions with which she sets it off. You say that way I say of her makes you homesick, perhaps you had rather I wouldn’t mention these things she says, I have done it because I thought you would be interested in every thing about her, knowing, foolish [as] they might appear to others.
We had the pig butchered Friday, he weighed 242 lbs. Aunt Sarah had hers killed the same time, that hasn’t done anything, it wouldn’t eat, it only weighed about half as much as ours.
I must close this for it is time to send to the [post] office, baby has just got a cold shawl around her, and says “Goodbye, I go post office get Papa’s lillie”. Dear child, I wish her little heart might never know any more sorrow than now.
I hope my anxiety as to your situation and prospects may be relieved soon. Goodbye for this time, God bless and keep you, my dear husband, and bring you safe back to me. Mother sends love and good wishes. Accept much love, and many kisses from your devoted wife,
Carrie A. Burleigh
P.S. I am not ashamed of your writing on your envelopes, I find I haven’t got me extra postage stamps that I have put on an envelope and sent along. C
This letter was undated, but due to the content, the references to “the great battle”, and the day of the week, we have decided that it was likely authored on the 14th. ↩
William Beach was discharged from the 20th Connecticut on December 10th, four days prior to this letter being written. ↩
William Beach was a corporal in Company I of the 20th Connecticut until he was discharged for disability on December 10th, 1862. Cecil had Mr. Beach bring back his broken pocket watch. ↩