February 15th, 1863

From Cecil Burleigh | Transcribed by Nicole Grove

Stafford Court House, Feb 15th

Dear Wife,

I received a letter from you written the 9th saying you had received mine containing the 5 I sent you. I was sorry to learn that I had written any thing to make you feel blue I would much sooner cheer you up for I know the trials of your situation and they are neither light nor few. It has always been my desire to save you anxiety and in order to do so I have written much and often but I have sometimes been unfortunate in choosing my language (for I always write in a hurry).

When I said oft repeated obligations I should have said pleasant obligations (except in very cold weather). When I said I would make the letter interesting by putting in a government five1 I meant it for a witticism, but I now see it was a sorry joke. You must make allowances for my surroundings if I write what is not acceptable for I would not knowingly wound your feelings by a word.

The sahell2 amount I sent was enough to make you feel blue but you will remember Uncle Sam owes me considerable and I like to keep some on hand I believe I have been as economical as most of the boys but some of them have made money faster than they could earn it at home while I have not engaged in any speculations.

Cook says he has sent home twenty dollars (five at a time) and thinks he shall send more if so Maria can’t complain. I think he seems to feel his obligations to his family as much as any one I know he writes often and is anxious to get letters from home.

You said something about Austin’s trouble on the march3 and seemed to insinuate that I did not do all I could for him now I think he should have acknowledged what I did for him when it became possible for me to do anything when he fell out the first day it was some time before I heard of it (though he sent word to me) and then it was impossible for me to go back the next day I was nearly sick myself but was ordered by the Lieut. Col. to join my com4 (when I fell back a little) and as Austin had a pass I thought the Doct. would take him in the ambulances but they were overloaded with pasengers.

Austin’s condition on that day was pitiful indeed but mine was but little better but had I known his situation I should have taken some means to help him, when they came up we gave them something to eat I went to the Doct. and got an order for the ambulances to assist them then I went with them to get their things into the wagons. The Lieut. in charge refused to take them, I told him he must take them, he said he would go and see if he could find a place for them when he sneaked off and tried to hide away from me among the wagons but I got sight of him and told to take those things or I would leave them in the mud and we would see who would pay for them. He was not long in finding room for them. He gave them in charge of a Seargt. who was a humane man and gave the boys some hard tack besides carrying their things. Austin said he never should have got through if it had not been for me, he has no face to talk to a man unless he gets mad. That was the reason he did not get better treatment.

It is not my business to look after the sick, Uncle Sam has provided ample means for their care. There are three Docts. to a regt. but they know so little that they suffer themselves to be imposed upon by men who had rather ride than go on foot while many really sick have to suffer.

We have had two quiet Sundays now. Last Sunday it was pleasant but today it is raining and quite uncomfortable. I told Mary Anne to show you her letter as soon as she got it, I thought it would answer in place of one to you. I am sorry Em is so poor, tell her I should like to have her write to me if she will do so I will try and answer it.

You say Mrs. Ives5 wants to know what ails Brainard, there is nothing the matter with him now. He has had a variety of complaints; colds, bowel complaints, dysentery, rheumatism, &c, but I think he has not had the piles.

I am glad you look on the bright side of the war question (if there is any bright side to it) it is the best way even if we are disappointed. You may bet I shall come home before three years if I live. You say you would be sorry to hear that I was promoted, now that is just what I want to hear (though I would not be mean enough to sneak out if I did). It would increase my influence and give me many privileges that I don’t have now and I don’t think it would materially increase my danger.

I have not got the box yet but I hear some came to the landing yesterday if so I shall get it tomorrow its contents will be welcome let them be what they will because they came from home if for no other reason but we need something besides our army fare once in a while, it will do well enough to live on salt pork and hard tack on the march but when in camp we want something different or we lose our appetites.

Catie6 will have a calf the last of April, if it is a heifer you may raise it if you think you can. Perhaps I shall be at home to help you by that time. I must now close this letter.

I give my love to all remember me to mother, tell her I shall see her again yet. Kiss Loola for me and much love and much love and many kisses for yourself,

CA Burleigh

  1. A “government five” is a five-dollar bill. 

  2. While the implied word seems to be “small”, it certainly looks like “sahell”. Maybe it’s an archaic term?  

  3. The march is spoken of in detail in Cecil’s letter of January 25th

  4. “Company” 

  5. Ann Ives 

  6. Catie (or “Katie”) is their milk cow.