12 February 1863

Liberty, Iowa
Thursday, February 12th 1863

Good evening, Lot.  Come in and have a seat by the fire with the rest of us. Your talk of two weeks ago this ‘eve was rather one-sided, though quite interesting, & now if you’ll sit down here by my side, we’ll have some on the other side. It seems hardly natural for us to sit by the fireplace. It would seem more like old times to walk down through the pasture, cross the brush fence & down to the graveyard or down to  “Neighbor Worth’s” ¹ & back past Uncle Collin’s, but that would hardly be practicable now for it snowed last night and now the snow lies about six inches deep in an untrodden sheet. But then we might have a sleigh ride just as John is having, that might make us think of Quakerdom and little prisoners we took out of Salem. You take different kind of prisoners now.

Well I’m sorry you had to go so far off but I can’t help it and you can’t help only in one way and that way I will not ask you to do. God knows I would be glad to see peace reign in our unhappy country once more, but I am not ready to purchase it by bowing to Traitors. To be sure, prospect looks gloomy now, but it’s not half as dark as when Washington’s little barefooted army wintered at Valley-Forge or left bloody tracks as they marched, when every third cabin sheltered a Tory. It was only by patient and brave action —  and because the hand of God was on the side of right — that after eight long years of desperate struggle the brave little band gained their glorious object and made themselves and their deeds immortal. These great revolutions are not made in a day, & though the thought is enough to make the stoutest heart shrink, yet when I think of what is at stake, I feel as if I would be willing to bear my part of the heavy burden though it should weigh me to the earth, that I might see our Government established on the old foundation firmly established so that neither internal discord nor foreign usurpation could shake it. Even though it should take eight years to accomplish it, we can well afford to pay the terrible price rather than give up our Republican Institutions. Well I’ve talked Politics and Patriotism enough. You get plenty of such in newspaper editorials &c., &c.

I ought to tell you some of the little home items as you say they are what keep you from forgetting home entirely. I think you would be awful heartless if you should forget your home, but there’s no danger of it. You only say so to get them to write particulars. Well, what shall I tell you first? Dick has got an epistle on hand and he’ll have everything in it, but I guess I know some things that he don’t. I know that last night’s snow storm wakened up thoughts of a ball that is to be at Mr. Stabler’s ² & as I came from school tonight John was just hitching to the sleigh and Marg was trying to get her mother ready to go to Sarah’s where they wished to leave her so Mag would have a chance to go without her knowing it. After he got hitched he brought me down home. I stayed at Forbes’ ³ last night and this morning Jim [Forbes] brought Jennie Andrews and me to the school house. So you see I’ve had two sleigh rides already.

It is not quite a week since I wrote you so of course I haven’t much that’s new. I think a weekly correspondence is going it pretty fast, but as it seems my scribbling serves to entertain you for a few minutes once in a while, it is very little trouble for me to write — such as it is. This is only the third letter tonight. I didn’t exactly guess at what Jim Johnson wrote to you. He told me what he wrote that same night at [Levi] Beery’s. I could have guessed it though for I didn’t expect anything else but that you are well posted on all such matters, or I might have said something about it myself. You committed an unpardonable sin in saying what you did about Noah & Dick. If they only knew it, but they don’t, and won’t soon I recon. If you think you could not read your own writing I don’t know what you’ll do with this unless it is to put it in the fire. I have scribbled a little to John Kerr which I will send with this if you can get it conveyed to him without too much trouble, you will oblige me by doing so. It is very late and I must close. You know it is against my principles to sit up and talk after bedtime.

So good night, — Neal

¹ This must have been John C. Worth (b. 1805 in Germany) who resided in Jackson Township, Henry County, Iowa in the 1850s. His is the only family by the name of Worth in the county at that time.
² This may have been Soloman Stabler (b. 1813 in Pennsylvania) who resided in New London, Henry County, Iowa.
³ This was Collin Forbes (1803-1884), who resided in Center Township, Henry County, Iowa in the 1860s. James Forbes, mentioned in the letter, would have been 17 in 1863. This is most likely the Uncle Collin mentioned in the first paragraph. Collin’s wife was Jane Johnston of Fountain County, Indiana.

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