150 years later, nearly 400 letters reveal one couple’s Civil War story

Some of the nearly 400 letters written between Cecil A. Burleigh of the 20th Connecticut Infantry, and his wife, Caroline, during the Civil War.

The CW 150 Legacy Project was recently in Fairfax for a scanning event at the City of Fairfax Regional Library. The event was a great success with a number of diaries, letters, and photographs scanned. We also had one of our biggest ‘wow’ moments when a donor brought in a box of almost 400 letters from her ancestor for scanning. Most of the letters, written between Cecil A. Burleigh of the 20th Connecticut Infantry and his wife, Caroline, were still in their envelopes. It is exciting and rare to see a collection that is not only large but also comprehensive, with letters written from husband and wife. These materials give both sides of the story of a couple separated by war, as Cecil wrote from localities such as Stafford Court House and Alexandria, Virginia, and after participation in the Battle of Chancellorsville, while Caroline gave updates on life in Connecticut.

Due to the size of the collection it will take us a while to scan and post everything, but to have such a great resource from one family is just amazing!

-Renee Savits, CW 150 Legacy Project — Eastern Region


  1. Wendy said:
    6 May 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Were the letters between Cecil A. Burleigh of the 20th Connecticut Infantry and his wife, Caroline, ever scanned and/or transcribed?

    • Jessica said:
      6 May 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you for writing. The letters from Caroline and Cecil Burleigh have been scanned and are available on the web site http://www.virginiamemory.com/cw150. If you type the keyword “Burleigh” in the search you can find the collection of letters. There aren’t any plans to transcribe the collection at the present time but possibly in the future parts of it may be. Thank you.

      -Renee Savits

  2. Susan Grove said:
    10 October 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you so much for this! Cecil was the brother of my great great great grandfather and he did write of meeting Anson Burleigh in Atlanta in Oct. of 1864. He described him and that is the first thing my Montana family has ever heard of him. None of the MT Burleigh’s even knew Anson was in the war.

    Susan Burleigh Grove

  3. Susan Grove said:
    23 January 2015 at 3:14 pm

    My son Caleb was able to locate a photo of Cecil in the Denver Public Library. The photo shows him as a captain at the end of the war presumably May of 1865.

    Susan Burleigh Grove

  4. Anelle Kloski said:
    24 September 2016 at 5:11 pm

    There are many U.S. researchers, including myself, who have forever been looking to tie their Cecil ancestors in this country to the famous family who counselled Elizabeth ! and did so many other notable things in England. Since those Cecils were also called Lords of Burleigh, someone named Cecil Burleigh would be of interest, if his ancestry were known. Would these letters do that, I wonder?

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