January 24th, 1863

Mother has gone to church and I thought I would commence my letter this morning, but I guess I shan’t accomplish much for it is most time for church to be out and I have one little chatter box to help me. She is singing “Burleigh baby” at the top of her voice, once and the while she stops and asks me “Mama, you hear that noise?”

She is so pleasant and pretty when she wakes in the morning. This morning I asked her what she would say to Papa if she should see him. She says “Tank you Papa, I like some candy Papa”. She says “Poor Papa gone war, Papa come home see he Lulu baby, sometime”. Dear child, it would seem as if if her life was spared and her parents, also, that God willing we might make her life quite happy, but if you are never to come back to here I ought not to be so selfish as to wish to keep her here, for in such a case her lot would be a hard one.

She seems pretty well now, but I watch her very close, and I often notice her when she is around at her play stop and put her hands to her head, and contract her features as if in pain. She often has an expression on her countenance (to a careful observer) that denotes too much thought for a child not three years old.1

Sabbath eve,

I have been to church this afternoon. Mr. Thayer preached from Romans 8th, 28th “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” I scarce ever heard him preach with so much energy. He had a powerful sermon. I went up to this sewing meeting on Friday evening (when it is stormy Wednesday, they meet Friday). Mr. Thayer came and set down by me to tell me that he had a letter from you, and wanted to know where he should direct to you (as you might be on the march), said he wanted to write to you, he didn’t tell me anything you wrote, but said in an undertone (there was lots of people round) that you was a very fine letter writer, your letter was a find production, so accurate &c., I lost part of what he said in the buzz of voices around me.

Mother has gone to meeting tonight, baby is asleep and I am here alone writing to you, and I know not where you are. I feel lonely and blue tonight, but I hope I shall not impart any of it to you, of course I am much more comfortably situated than you are and don’t begin to know what you do of privations and hardships, but for all that I don’t feel very cheerful, we that have always had the comforts of life don’t know how to prize them as we ought.

I received your letter last night written Saturday the 17th, saying that you was to march the next morning at 6 o’clock, but the rest of the neighbors got letters written Sunday saying that you didn’t go, but I suppose you have gone ere this.2 Oh this suspenses about you all the time is wearing and hard to bear, but for better so, than to know that you was gone entirely from our care and anxiety. I have watched the papers, but can find nothing regarding your part of the army.

I was very sorry to hear that you had a sore throat, I am fearful as it comes towards spring that you will be troubled very much in that way. If you have salt I wish you would get in the habit of gargling your throat every morning with strong salt and water. Many people have been benefited by it. I could send you salt enough for that purpose in my letters, if you can’t have it, and would use it. I put up in your box your trunk from home, some ground cloves, and pepper for you to make a gargle for your throat as you used to at home, but I suppose you haven’t that with you. If the glands in your throat should seem to be swollen that indicates diphtheria and you must bind on your throat a piece of salt pork3 and wear it long enough to give it a chance to help you. Sarah Glen has been very sick with the diphtheria I hear, but is some better now.

In your letter you give me a hint to look over my past life, I think that there’s but a few persons that can take a retrospective view of their lives, and not find some things to regret and I certainly don’t claim to be one of the perfect ones. In looking over my life I find many things to regret; and think if I could live my life over I would do different, but the deception to which you allude [I] practiced towards you I don’t know; nor never knew (for it is the first time I have heard of it). What you meant by it, unless it is that I deceived you as regards my disposition and I can assure you that you were no more deceived than myself about that, I don’t think that people know themselves until they are placed in circumstances to draw out their disposition.

Before I was married; I had had a pretty easy time for a poor girl, had had my own way pretty much, never had been crossed but little, and had grown considerably old in years and habits, with the idea that I was quite amiable. I had never had but little care only to provide myself with clothes, and I had managed to do that very well, I thought I had had considerable trouble, but didn’t know that the little cares and perplexities incident upon the new relation I had assumed were going to be worse for my temperament to get along with than things of more consequence; my general health and nervous system never recovered from the shock they received in the richness I had the next spring.

Now I am not saying this to exculpate myself from blame, for when I knew that little things were going to irritate me and make me fretful, I ought to have risen above it, and not indulged in it, until it became a habit, almost too strong to be overcome. I know that I have made you unhappy many times and I am ready to admit that I have been very much to blame in so doing, and humbly ask your forgiveness for it. Seven years and seven months we have lived together as husband and wife and under existing circumstances it seems more than probably that we have spent all the time together we ever shall here; and I can’t bear to think that you have any bitter feelings in your heart towards me but I suppose you can’t help it sometimes, and are not to blame, because I have given you reason. You are giving your country your affections now and I hope you won’t be deceived in her.

There has been a great deal said for the last few days about the doings of Burnside, what was said one day was contradicted the next and so on. They speak of the reserve under Sigel being on the move towards the rest of the army, and as you folks belong with the reserve I should suppose you would be with him, but it seems that you had some reason to think that they intended to use you somewhere else, but where ever you are on wherever you go, I hope you health may be spared you and I hope too that you won’t have to go into battle.4

It is almost the first of February. When I think of your terms of enlistment5 I am anxious to have time hurry along, and then again, when I think of the business of spring6 that I feel myself incompetent to attend to, and no prospect of your coming home, I wish it might lag, but the wheels of time will move along without any reference to my wishes.

Oh I do so long to have you come home to stay, while God spares your life, I am anxious to have you come on my account, for if you ever come I do hope God helping me to be a better wife to you than I have been; but I believe I am more anxious you should come on your child’s account, she needs your society now to add to her happiness, and certainly will if she should live. There is more in your disposition to amuse and make her happy than there is in mine. She has talked a deal about you tonight. She wanted to see your picture, I took it down and held it for her to look at, she would lay her head down on it and say “dear Papa. I love you dearly, I like to see Papa”. She would hold up her dress before it and say “you see my new dress papa, you tink it’s pretty?” She wanted to know where Papa’s hand was. You know your hands do not show in the picture; she talks about your being gone to war, but yet she can’t quite understand it yet she seems to think that the picture is in reality you. I hold her looking out the window tonight and said over to her once or twice the little verse “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” &c. so before she went to sleep she went round saying “tinkle tinkle littie star.”

Uncle Orrin hasn’t got me the money or that check yet but I guess he will soon. I wish you had it, that is if you haven’t been payed off yet. Mr. Leveret was in here the other evening, something was said about slip rent, I told him I believe ours was paid, he said yes, he saw Mr. Burleigh one day not long before he left, and you paid him, he said there was an old account someways back but he should say anything about that. I told him I know there was, and I didn’t want it to stand on the books against you, and when I had the money handy I was going to settle it up. He said it was no matter about it, but he won’t always have the books and somebody else may think it is. You remember it was the year that Dibble set with us, but I had the impression that part of it was paid. I remember Dibble’s giving you the money for his part and you let Uncle Orrin have it, so you told me, but I thought that half of it was paid, I asked Mr. Leveret, and he said he believed that the years rent stood charged to you on the books, Dennis was collector that year, if you remember about it, please tell me for I mean to get that crossed off sometime when convenient.

Elford Dickerman had Fanny7 here to go to New Haven Friday, and I sent your watch down, they said they would repair it for $2.50 cheaper than I supposed it would be.8 I wish you would tell me if you like to have me send you stationary as I have opportunity. If you have to pay an exorbitant price there, you had ought to have me send it [to] you.

I should put in some postage stamps tonight but I forgot that I was so near out. I have only the one left to put on this letter. I ought to have sent for some yesterday when I sent you a box. I am going to send you a package of envelopes like the one on this letter. I got two packages up to Hobart’s because I thought they were cheaper, 8 cents for 24. They are a strong envelope and I guess you would like them, but I can’t direct a letter strait without lines and these are so think that they won’t show lines through.

Mrs. Ives was talking to me about Brainard the other night, she says that he seemed quite thoughtful when he left home, and said he intended to lead a good moral life if nothing more, and wished to be remembered in their prayers.

I have no room for news unless I take more paper and it is too late for that. I am anxious to hear from you. I am very fearful I shall hear you are sick.

Much love and many kisses from Carrie.

[P.S.] Mother sends love, do be careful about your throat. Don’t get in the least reckless about your health for ourselves.

  1. In her letter of the 15th, Caroline mentioned that Louise had a slight cold. 

  2. The 20th Connecticut had indeed moved, and was on the march for several days during the bitter winter weather. 

  3. Salt pork was a regular part of the ration for Federal soldiers. It comprised of pork that had been soaked in a brine for such a long time that it became essentially pickled and would last for many months without refrigeration of any sort.

    At the time, it was commonly thought that salt pork, either whole or chopped, and applied to the throat by wrapping it with a piece of cloth, would help cure diphtheria. 

  4. Cecil was in the reserve under General Sigel, and the reserve indeed was under marching orders to unite with the rest of the army in an effort to consolidate the army. 

  5. Cecil enlisted for three years time, or until the end of the war, whichever came sooner, in August of 1862. 

  6. Caroline is probably thinking about the farming work that would need to be attended to. 

  7. Fanny was Cecil’s and Caroline’s horse. 

  8. Cecil had broken his pocket watch and sent it back to Caroline to be repaired.