11 January 1863

Liberty [Iowa]
January 11th 1863

Mr. Lot Abraham,

Respected friend,

I have the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of your “Merry Christmas,” although it was too late to have any affect upon my enjoyments that day. Yet I thank you for your good wishes. I had no doubt, but if you thought of me at all, you would wish me well, and I am sure if wishing could have accomplished anything you would have been here enjoying the holidays with friends whose fervent prayers constantly ascend for your welfare and happiness. You have or will ere long, receive a letter giving a description of my Christmas and [your sister] Mag and [brother] John, and Dick and Noah and Kate and Lije ¹ have all written you about our New Year’s, and Jim Johnson gave you all the neighborhood items so you are posted I presume.

We all feel rather anxious about the fate of our friends at Vicksburg. Hort got orders and left last Friday and we hear that you have all left Helena to join Grant’s army, but we have no certain word. The Times brings the report that Vicksburg is ours. I hope it is, and that other Union victories may soon follow and thus end this terrible war. I am getting Oh! so tired of this suspense but as you say, we can only wait and hope. The past year which has fled so swiftly to you, has not lagged with me, but oh how much sorrow it has seen. Indeed it seems but a short time since I walked with you round the bountifully spread tables in the Hall in Mount Pleasant but I cannot bear the thought of my countrymen being exposed to the hardships and sufferings of a soldier’s life for a year and eleven months longer. I hope my patriotism is not failing me, but I should be very glad to see this war ended, in some way very soon.

This is a pleasant day — quite warm and muddy. Dick and wife, Lije and wife and Mag have gone to Tightbark. John has gone, dear knows where. The children are up at “Grandmothers” so brother John and I are having a good quiet Sunday. No meeting at the schoolhouse today. There is a protracted meeting going on at the chapel.

Your mother is anxious to have some one tell you that none of us have been there yet. She thinks you would be pleased to know that we are so good to stay at home, but [your sister] Mag and [brother] John attend Mart Farris’s ¹ writing school three nights in the week and we go to singing two nights so you see we don’t have much time to go to the chapel.

I can’t put much time on one letter today for I have a half dozen to write. I have some new correspondents among my cousins in Ohio. [I] am trying to make acquaintances there as I intend to spend next summer with them. I will be done here in eleven weeks and shall go as soon as possible. I have given up the idea of seeing you in Iowa this spring but you will be here a good steady farmer when I come back again. Those pictures which went in Dick’s letter, what do you think of the group. You must look at them good and then send them back, for I must have them for company next summer. Your mother was much pleased with them and said it only lacked Lot to make the group complete. She wished you could see it which made me think of sending it to you.

The health of your friends here is good with the exception of some sore arms, caused by vaccination. Oh how I wish your next might bring us word that you are well again. I am so sorry to hear of your continued sickness. Johny and Etta are anxiously expecting an answer to their letter which they sent three weeks ago. Don’t you think they did pretty well for little folks. They did it all themselves without any help. None of us even knew what they wrote.

Hoping that next Christmas may see these States United and all the brave sons of America in the enjoyment of peace and quiet.

I remain as ever, — Neal

¹ Neal mentions Lot’s siblings and in-laws: Addison (“Dick”) Howe Jackman (1826-1909) was married to Lot’s sister, Rebecca (“Becca”) Abraham (1832-1915) in the mid-1850s; Noah Johnson (1825-1920) was married to Lot’s sister, Sarah (“Sallie”) E. Abraham (1836-1912) in 1860; and Elijah (“Lige”) Roberts was married to Katherine (“Katie”) Abraham (1841-1871) in 1863. 
² There is a Martin V. Farris enumerated in Henry County, Iowa, in 1863. This may have been Martin Van Buren Farris, b. 1839 in Indiana.

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