January 15th, 1863

Mt. Carmel Thursday night Jan. 15th, 1863

My ever dear husband,

I usually write you Wednesday nights, but I didn’t write last night for I thought I would wait and see if I got a letter from you tonight, and I did get one; written a week ago last night. I find by your letter that you get my letters in better time than I do yours, you say that you got my letter written the night before New Years1, Monday night, I didn’t get yours written the same night until Thursday. I received your letter, devoured its contents greedily, and was rejoiced to hear that you were well; I always feel so anxious when it has been some days and since I have had a letter, for fear that the next one will bring bad news. I suppose one thing that makes me feel so is because it seems to me almost impossible that anyone can go through with what you do, and yet keep in health. I know that I ought always to bear in mind that God is able to preserve you through every hardship if he purposes to do so, but as long as I can’t know whether it is His good will to bring you back to me, how can I help but be some anxious.

You say that you hardly know what to write, let me say that anything that comes from your pen, and is dictated by your heart is very dear to me, and of more interest than anything else. Things that might seem to you too trivial to write, little matters concerning yourself, and surroundings, are of deep interest to me. Write me whatever you choose, my dear husband, and I will be satisfied, for I shall feel assured that it is dictated by a heart that loves me.

I am happy to learn that in your tiresome and weary marches the refined and better feelings of your nature have been quickened instead of deadened; It would seem that such a tax on the judicial system would be apt to have a bad effect on the mind. You speak of the devastation of this beautiful country by this horrid war, and you feel as if vengeance will surely fall on those who have brought it on, I think it will if God’s hand is in it, (Boss Ed says God hasn’t anything to do with it.) and I declare I almost think so too sometimes; but if God has taken this nation in hand, it will be as Mr. [unintelligible] Todd used to say, “When God undertook to punish his children He always made thorough work of it”, and if these are punished that are in fault I think there would be many that are now professing to serve their country as loyal men, and I despise them far more than I do the leaders of the rebellion, if all that hold high office were as devoted to their country and its interests as you are, I should have hope of this thing being done sometime.

Someone in some paper (I have forgot now what [one]) when speaking of Rosecrans said, “thank God there was one General that wasn’t candidate for the next presidency.” You speak of our victories, Rosecrans gained a victory2, but oh it is horrid to read; or think of such a desperate contest, it was such a fierce [and] bloody battle, I doubt whether we have another General that would have carried it through.

You say you never have had the least doubt but the south would be conquered, I suppose it is well for you to think so, if you can, if it helps you to bear your trial’s incident or your situation better I am glad you feel so, but I can see but little progress, we take a place and then the rebels take it back again, they have Galveston now.3 Our Vicksburg expedition under Gen. Sherman is a failure.4 France [unintelligible] shows plainly that she intends to interfere.5

Greely6 thinks that unless our side is victorious before the first of June, that foreign intervention, or mediation of some sort will be upon us; God grant that peace may be restored before this nation is entirely ruined even if both sides have to bend their proud necks a little; but you nor I can’t foretell what the end will be, so there is no use in surmising, but I sometimes am prone to believe that this war is the beginning of the end of all things, and it would much but little matter with us, if we were only prepared to meet a happy family around the throne of God in Heaven.

I see you are more fully convinced of the evils of camp life on the mind than you were before you left home, I feel very well assured that it needs a deal of decision of character to keep from following after the multitude. I have no doubt but there are many men that have gone from home with an unblemished reputation, that if they ever came home at all, will come morally ruined. Oh it is dreadful to contemplate the sin and misery this war brings with it; I think the daily routine and discipline of army life must have very much the same tendency on the mind of some men as slavery has on the blacks, you admit as much, when you say that “they suffer themselves to be dragged around with the apathy of the ox in the yoke”, but I think it is better that the mind becomes inactive than that they should become adept in all the vices you spoke of, but I have faith to believe, my dear husband that you will keep yourself mostly free from all these things, I don’t doubt you yet; and don’t I pray you do anything that could I know just what you are doing; would give me reason to.

You say if I sent anything in the Capt’s. box you hoped there would be some dried beef,7 I did put in a little piece, and now you have spoken of wanting it, I wish I had put in more, but as I could have room for but little anyway I put in but a little of any one thing. I wish you would speak of what you would like most. If you should come up near Washington I would try and send you something often, but I don’t want you to come there if that would be any reason why you would be like to stay in the service longer, but according to your papers, I don’t see how they would hold onto you after the war closes, I hope they won’t send you off south or [to] the west for it would be so unhealthy for you; I don’t know as I could tell where I do want them to put you. Yes, I could too, I wish they would send you home.

You are liking the Col. better than you did, hey? Aunt Sarah says that Miss Pardee that visited your Regt. said that they were all pleased with their colonel. The Daily Palladium that we had tonight had in the prayer by your Chaplain and the Col.’s speech you spoke of. It was a fine thing; quite eloquent, but when reading it I was reminded of the inconsistency of human nature, he admitted that he was subject to the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, and yet I dare say in less than an hour from that time he would be blaspheming His holy name, and violating His commands by breaking the Sabbath, I judge by his speech that he can show an outward respect to God when it is going to add to his popularity, but I will speak well of him if he will show himself a man instead of a brute in his conduct towards the men under his charge. Is Sergt. Paddock very sick and where is he? How is Sergt. Beckwith?

I don’t have anything of interest to write you as far as change is concerned. My life is about as monotonous as a soldier’s (I suppose I have more changes in food, however). I get up in the morning not very early, (you would guess that, I suppose), eat my breakfast, wash and dress baby, look over the paper, bring in wood for the day, go out and feed the horse, (by the way, I must inform you that we have lost two hens, the old hawks of all has departed this life, and this morning I found that little top-notch pullet dead, she was a pretty one and had just begun to lay.) Then I clean off Fanny8 some, and let her out to get a drink. I take quite a deal of comfort in taking care of Fanny, I suppose it is rather expensive recreation, I think I take good care of the stable, barn, and her; I don’t give her enough so but she has a rather sharp appetite. Katy9 and she both look well. I don’t let them waste any hay, they will waste some stalks in spite of me, I think that I take pretty good care of them. If they won’t anyone else praise one, I shall.

That’s all, then I come in and tend to what I have to do indoors about noon. I take baby out to the barn and eat the feed for Fanny, and then I sew some in the afternoon, go out to the barn just at night and see to things; come in, eat supper, and get baby to sleep and sew, read, or write ‘till bed time, and so on day after day. I occasionally run down to Aunt Sarah’s of an evening a little while, or once in the course of a fortnight go down street to the [post] office and make some calls.

I have my hands full to watch baby when I take her to the barn, she runs like a deer, she will run through the granary to see Fanny, then I will call her back for fear she will fall under her feet, then first I know she will be pulling out a few strands of hay from the mow to carry [to] Katy. I can’t make her at all afraid of Katy, and she will take her horns at her if she comes near her. There is Burleigh enough about baby so that she can’t put still a minute.

Mr. Bryan got Aunt Sarah’s corn shelter to shell his corn last week one day, and he shelled what we had left. There is 10 bushels of shelled corn, I cleared it up and measured it and put it in [barrels], isn’t that very well after fattening the pig? There was of the whole of the corn little ears and all about 76 bushel of ears if I remember right. I don’t know whether I have made it last well or not, I give Katy a little meal every day to make her eat her pail of slops.

Perhaps you will notice how economical I was about this paper I am writing on, I was rather short for paper just now, so I took this which was a letter from Rebecca written with a pencil and rubbed out the writing as well as I could and used it.

We are all about as well as usual. Baby has some cold again. We are having very unpleasant weather, rained all last night and today and I don’t know when it is going to clear off because we haven’t got any Almanacs this year. I hope you’re not out on the march in this storm.

Many kisses, Carrie.

Mother sends love and baby kisses me “for Papa” many times a day. They have sent you a box this week, I hear they didn’t say anything to me about it, I would send you one now if I supposed it would get to you.

  1. Unfortunately, we are missing this letter from Caroline. 

  2. The victory of which Caroline writes was the Battle of Stones River (or Murfreesboro), where the U.S. Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee successfully repulsed two major C.S. attacks and ended in a Confederate withdrawal — albeit at a high cost. Of all battles fought during the war, this had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Of the 76,400 men that were involved, there were 24,645 casualties. Learn more. 

  3. Galveston was one of the biggest cities in Texas and a major seaport. However, the Confederate military deemed the city indefensible, and so when the Federal attack was made, the C.S. forces left the city. However, on New Years morning, the Confederates launched a brilliant offensive, reclaiming the city, never more to return to US hands during the course of the war. Learn more. 

  4. Vicksburg was a difficult nut to crack for the Federal army in the west, punctuated by many failed attempts to even get close to the fortified city. The campaigning began on December 16th, 1862, and would not conclude until July 4th, 1863. 

  5. Although none of the European governments became officially entangled in the Civil War, there was many rumors that England or France would join forces with the Confederacy. 

  6. Horace Greely was the highly-political editor of the New York Tribune, one of the great newspapers of the time. 

  7. In Cecil’s letter of the 7th, he wrote:
    You spoke of sending us a box, I hope it will get here soon and have some dried beef in it for I think we shall march again soon.
    The box of which they are speaking of arrived in camp on the 11th. 

  8. Fanny was their horse. 

  9. Katy appears to be their milk cow.