February 1st, 1863

From Cecil Burleigh | Transcribed by Nicole Grove

Stafford Court House, Feb 1st, ’63

Dear loved wife,

I shall not write a great deal tonight for we have had a great deal to see to for Sunday and I have not got through yet, but as my last letters were a little gloomy I thought I would let you know of our improved condition, we have got shelter tents and have built huts and covered them with our tents. The huts are not all done but ours is so we can keep dry in.1

I wrote Mary Anna a letter from the old mill where I went for shelter and told her to show it to you as soon as she got it. In it I gave an account of a severe snow storm, it happened that Sam Brooks and Alfred Bristol were here the 2nd day of the storm. They stayed at the mill with us, they said our Regt. was the worst provided for of any they had seen, but Mr. Bristol said our moral condition was much better than he expected, he said he had very little swearing and the soldiers appeared like gentlemen, he is a nice man and not like most of the Bristols he said anything he could do for us he would do, he requested me to write to him.

I have no camp news to write you except a sad accident that happened last Friday, Capt. Smith of Co. G was killed by the falling of a tree, he was well liked by his men and his untimely death cast a gloom over the whole camp.2

I must now answer your letter written last Sunday. I am much pleased with what you say about Louise, I have often noticed the thoughtful expression of countenance you spoke of3 but it never alarmed me much, seeing I used to be noted for the same thing and my good mother thought I would be something great, but I have never turned the world upside down yet and I have an impression that the thoughtfulness of countenance was nothing but absent mindedness, but I will agree with you that our child is smart, perhaps too smart for her years. At least she is the smartest child we ever had.4

You speak of our making her comfortable, I beg you teach her to seek for a useful life, rather than her own comfort. I would rather she should suffer some of the ills of life and make herself useful than live entirely for self. You seem to think it would be selfish for you to want to keep her in case you should lose me. Now, much as I love her, I don’t think I am half so necessary to her as yourself and should God see fit to so afflict me as to deprive me of my dear wife, I should still pray him to spare my child.

It seems Mr. Thayer got my letter. I think he tried to flatter some for I thought the letter I wrote him a poor one and if I had had time to write another I should not have sent, but if he was pleased with it I am glad for I like his good opinion.

We have salt enough now but I am not troubled with sore throat now. It was sore a little at Fairfax but I don’t have it half so much as I used to.5

You say I gave you a hint to look over your past life. This I did because you seemed to demand of me perfection and I thought a little retrospection would convince you that there [is] no perfection in human nature but my dear wife, you must not think I have any fault to find with you.

You are a dear loving wife whom I love and respect with my whole heart, and if I love my country it is because she has protected and nourished you and made you what you are. We are indebted to the laws of our country for what security you feel in your home and it is to vindicate those laws I am here. I did not come here because I thought more of my country than you, but because I could not see others battling for me and not lend a helping hand.

You spoke of the old slip rent, I paid part of it to Dennis before he lost the book, but he did not credit to me, and after the book was found he could not recollect it. Now I don’t want to cheat the society but I never shall pay that unless they square it for half it’s amount.

I can get paper here, but it is hard to get stamps. I will write again soon, love to all and many kisses for you and Louise.


P.S. Joel and Brainard got their boxes tonight. The stuff was mostly spoilt, it had been so long on the road. Brain and Austin are well but Willis is still complaining. I don’t know but he will get down yet.

Yours &c.


  1. Civil War soldiers would build little cabins during the winter when they thought they would be at a place for some time. These shelters typically sported log walls and a tent for a roof. 

  2. On January 28th, Capt. Henry Smith was walking out beside the camp while some men where in the process of felling a tree. Although shouts of warning were issued, he did not look up until a branch struck him, breaking his neck. Sourcesource, source

  3. In Caroline’s letter of the 24th, Caroline wrote:

    She often has an expression on her countenance (to a careful observer) that denotes too much thought for a child not three years old. 

  4. And for that matter, the only child they had! 

  5. Cecil had complained earlier about having a sore throat, and Caroline offered to send him some salt in a letter to make a gargle with.