January 20th, 1863

Mt. Carmel Tuesday eve Jan 20th/63

My ever dear husband,

I thought I would commence my letter tonight for if it is pleasant tomorrow night the Soldiers Aid Society will meet and perhaps I shall have to go to keep peace and if so, I shan’t find much time to write. I received your letter last night, written the 13th, and this morning I got the note which you sent in Joe’s letter. I was sorry that you were not located in a more pleasant place but yet I can’t but be sorry to learn of your expected march, if it portends joining Burnside.

All the news I have is that Burnside was reported to be about to attempt again to cross the Rappahannock. Perhaps the orders were countermanded and you didn’t go, if such be the case I think we shall hear from some of you soon, and if you went perhaps you are not to join Burnside. I hope not for I fear that he has more courage than judgment; they have giving the enemy so long a time to fortify and strengthen their position that I have more fears for the result than I had when he crossed the river in December1, and if he is so rash this time as to fling away the lives of thousands more, without anything resulting I hope they won’t let him undertake it again. I hope you won’t have to go into battle and it is all I can do to hope, but “hope deferred maketh the heart sick”2.

I am very anxious to know how you are, and where, but must try to wait with patience, and leave all with God. I am so glad that you got the few things I sent you before your marching orders came, and if you have had to march, I am glad that you had that little piece of dried beef, I only wish I had sent you more; I suppose you were not paid off as you didn’t speak of it, and I am sorry now that I haven’t sent you some money for I fear if you had had to march without your pay, you may be out of the “useful” somewhere, and will need very much.

I guess I shan’t make out to write much tonight, for Mary Dickerman has been in here and stayed quite awhile since I commenced writing, and it is getting late, and baby will soon get uneasy. Oh how I wish you might see our little prattler, there isn’t an hour in the day but my heart is made sad by thinking of the comfort you are losing by not being where you can see how fast she is learning to talk; and I am afraid that if you ever see her again at all, it won’t be until she is old enough so that of course you would expect her to talk. You would be surprised if you could be home now to hear her talk, I don’t believe there are many of her age that talk so much, but I suppose that is no sign that she will be smart, for it is not the greatest talkers that are the most sensible.

I went up to the store this afternoon, I told her I was going, she ran to the door to find her bonnet to go too, she says “I like go, Mitter Kimmy’s too, get some candy.” She wanted to see your picture today, she would pass her hand caressingly over it and say “Poor Lulu baby’s, Papa, come home and see your baby”, she would point out all the features of your face and say “She eyes, she nose”, and et cetera. Everything is “she” with her, she does not seem to know much about the masculine gender, hasn’t many acquaintances in that line.

One night last week we had a severe south easterly rain with a high wind. In the morning it was driving against the south window in our room furiously when baby woke up, the noise frightened her, she didn’t say a word, but set right up in bed, before she had got her eyes half open, and looked first at the window and then round to me, for several times. Finally says she, “it’s going to rain Mama”. When I take her up in the morning she will say to that picture in our room “goodbye John Brown. I go down to see the Grandma, I’ll come by, bye”. Sometimes when she doesn’t incline to mind, I tell her she is naughty and troubles Mama. She will come and put up her lips to be kissed, and say “I torry Mama, I trouble Mama, your pretious (precious) darning (darling) Mama”, she often says she loves Papa dearly and loves Grandma too, but she troubles Grandma with her pranks more than I wish she did, but she does not mean bad.

Our child is a subject that never could be exhausted, perhaps I take too much room and too much of your time in talking about her, I expect it would appear very foolish to others, anyway to them who have never known what a parent’s love is, but I know how dear she is to you and I think you are interested in all the little things concerning her.

It is getting late, we have got in the way of setting up rather late, I dread so to take up baby and lug her upstairs in the cold (she is about as much weight as I can tug up stairs) that I set around the fire a great share of the time longer than is best, while you, poor fellow, goes cold for the want of a fire and a comfortable place to sleep.

Oh, I hope the time isn’t far off when you will have as good accommodations as I do to say the least, I must bid you a kind goodnight, praying that you are not among the horrors of the battlefield.

C A Burleigh

  1. Burnside’s crossing of the Rappahannock in December resulting in the Battle of Fredricksburg, a resounding defeat for the Federal army. 

  2. This is a quote of Proverbs 13:12.