March 15th, 1863

Stafford Courthouse, VA, March 15th, 1863

Dear Wife,

We are having another cold and dreary Sunday and as usual on such days I am thinking of home. You must not suppose that it is the only time I think of home, but when the outward world is shut out from our contemplation, we naturally turn our thoughts inward and think over the past, and as distance lends enchantment to the view so when I think over the many happy days I have spent with you they seem tinged with a beauty that the present cannot realize. How often have I sit with you upon the door steps or at the window and watched the moon in its majestic course through the heavens, too happy even to think, all the old walks and carriage rides come fresh to my mind as I think over the past and I long to be with you again, but the great present demands our thoughts and time, it is a day of sacrifice and labour, and he who does his duty now will live in the memory of others though he lose his own life.

I have no great deal to write that will interest that I have written nonsense enough for one letter. I received the letter you wrote last Sunday, Friday morning1. You did not seem to like it because I stayed in Washington to assist my friend Doolittle, but I could not forsake a man in his situation even if he had been a stranger. Suppose I had been the unfortunate man I should have thought him a scamp if he had left me2.

As for the cost, we were very economical getting our dinners and suppers at the soldier’s retreat. I did not borrow nor have I been paid and I have a very little left, enough I hope to last ‘till we are paid. The reason for not finding a stopping place sooner you will find in one of the letters I have already written.

I am sorry you did not get the letter I wrote you Wednesday I was in hopes it would get to you before Sunday if it had I think you would have written me a different letter, the letter was good enough but compared with the one I got before it was rather chilly, I suppose the disappointment you felt at not hearing from me showed itself in what you wrote. But never fear dear wife, I will never knowingly do anything you will condemn when you know all the circumstances, a man heedless as I am will often do things that he is sorry for but if his heart is right he will not commit any great crimes.

We have had pretty lively times here for the last few days, the long roll3 beat at ten o’clock last Wednesday night, we all turned out with our arms and formed companies, we then stacked arms, and turned in again ‘till four o’clock the next morning when we turned out again, we went through the same maneuvers again the next night then we went on picket and was relieved at night. Got in at eleven P.M. the company went again yesterday and have just got in (I did not go out the last time) all this mess was kicked up because some one see a small rebel force within two miles of our lines, it is all quiet now.

Dear Wife, I must finish this now for the mail leaves soon. I got the stuff you sent in good order, I never saw anything quite so nice as the molasses. We had plenty of pancakes to eat it on and we lived high the mustard and walnut meats I have got yet I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your consideration in sending the molasses. I wish if you have an opportunity you would send me an old knife to turn pancakes with, I would rather have a knife than anything else for it will be handy to eat with sometimes. Remember me to all our friends and to mother in particular, tell her I shall come back again and I trust [to] see many happy years with her still with us. Goodnight dear Wife with much love and many kisses for you and the baby,

CA Burleigh

Carrie A Burleigh4

  1. This letter has been lost to history. 

  2. This is referring to an earlier incident in Washington D.C. where Doolittle was robbed of $25 and two pocket watches. Cecil covers this in detail in his second letter of March 1st

  3. The “long roll” was the drum signal that told the soldiers to assemble, usually in preparation for marching. 

  4. I don’t understand why Cecil wrote Caroline’s name at the bottom of his letter. 🤔