January 21st, 1863

Wednesday Eve1

Dear husband,

It is a cold, stormy, bleak, night. The wind howls piteously, and the sleet is driven against the windows furiously, and every blast makes the cold chills creep over me, not for myself, for I have a comfortable place, but, oh how my heart aches for you my dear husband. It seems to me if you should be obliged to be out in such a storm without shelter, that you must perish, it commenced snowing about noon today and was not extremely cold but it turned to sleet towards night, and the storm and cold increases all the time, and oh God help you if you are out and exposed to it.2

I was in hopes I should get a line from you tonight saying that you hadn’t broke camp, but as none came, I fear you are on the march. I thought perhaps your orders for marching might be delayed because I saw in the yesterday’s Tribune a letter from the correspondents in the army near Fredericksburg, saying that they had orders to be ready to march on the 17th, but the marching orders had been delayed until Monday the 19th. I haven’t seen the today paper, you know I don’t have it until the second day, but in the yesterday’s paper there was nothing important from Burnside, only that he was making preparations for something (not to slaughter so many men as he did before, I hope). I couldn’t find anything particular from the portion of the army you are in. The different grand divisions were classified with their leaders, I saw that Sigel has command of the whole of the grand reserve, and that Slocum commands the 12th Army Corps under him.

I have thought of several things in the course of the day that I wanted to say to you, but this terrible storm drives everything from my mind, only the possibility that you may be suffering from the cold. It is dreadful how the poor soldiers have to suffer.

Mrs. Butler’s brother, Sergt. Fowler3, was buried in New Haven [on] Monday, his remains were carried into College St. church, which (I hear) was filled to overflowing. It seems that both legs were shot off, and he had to be moved around so much before they could be attended to, that he lost so much blood, it caused his death, if his wounds could have been (or had been) properly attended to, his life might have been spared.

[unintelligible] in thinking that if Uncle Orrin’s business was so he could leave it and if anything should happen to you he would leave immediately and go to you, it would be a great relief to me, he would be such a good hand, he is very kind to anyone in trouble, and would overcome more difficulties than most people in gaining access to you. God in mercy spare you from such suffering as many have gone through with.

If you are on the march I suppose I have no reason to expect to hear from you but I am anxiously watching the mail every day. If you should have to go into battle, and this should reach you before, do my husband pay heed to what I have told you heretofore and be reconciled to your maker.

Oh how dreadfully it storms, God have mercy on the suffering everywhere. Mother sends love, and I must bid you night, hoping soon to hear that [you] are well.

  1. This letter was undated, but based on the date of Richard Fowler’s funeral, we have decided that it was authored on the 21st of January. 

  2. Cecil was indeed exposed to the nasty weather. On the 17th of January, the 20th Connecticut was ordered to move to Stafford Courthouse to concentrate forces. They had no tentage or cover during the rainy nights on their march, and their food gave out before they reached their destination. 

  3. Richard H Fowler at FamilySearch