14 July 1863

Stacy Farm, ¹ Muskingum Valley, Ohio
Tuesday July 14th, 1863

Capt L. Abraham
Dear friend,

I got your letter of June 28th yesterday & now I must answer it. But Oh! what can I write to cheer a sick man? ‘Twould do no good to tell you I am very sorry to hear of your illness for you know that already [and] know that I take an interest in all that concerns you — perhaps more than is proper or maidenly for me to manifest. But ’tis too late now; you know it and I can’t help it. It had been three weeks since I got your last & I had seen in the [HomeJournal an account of your fight of the 23d ult. so I was sure you was in it & perhaps killed or wounded or a prisoner, & your little letter was a great relief. Although it contained bad news, it assured me that you were yet alive, and while there is life, there is hope.

Well, I’ll hope you are well again long before this time and write as if it were so. Certainly your celebration of the Glorious Old 4th would have a salutary effect upon the drooping spirits of all the western soldiers. Oh! what a happy day that was for the besieging army. Didn’t you enjoy it more than any day out ever saw before? I haven’t had reports of the day in Iowa yet. Friends there are rather dilatory for a week or two past and I should almost begin to grow uneasy and restless and think about going home if I had not about made up my mind to remain here until next spring & concluded that I am more contented here than I would be there. If I get good employment — & I guess I shall without any trouble — I’d rather bother my brains over the young ideas of Ohio than go at it again in old Henry County.

I left Salem yesterday to be gone a month or so. Came with Uncle Rufus Alden down here on the river. Shall stay a week or so with them, then get on a steam boat and go to Zanesville and hunt up some more of my uncles & cousins. I don’t know how I’ll stand it without mail for so long but suppose I can’t help myself. I’ll take it easy and not think about it.

Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan

Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan

I laid down my pen and went downstairs for a few minutes & Oh! what a commotion has been raised since. The Capt. of the militia is round ordering his men to report in camp this evening. The Governor has called out the militia to meet [General John Hunt] Morgan ² who is in Indiana and supposed to be coming into Ohio. This is bringing war home to many hearths that have known but little of it as yet, and I am almost glad of it. It will waken up some of these despicable, peace whining copperheads and make them know that this was is a reality in which they have some interest & a part to act. Uncle Rufus will go down to town to report & I must get this ready to send with him. The company of Salem boys went into camp last Friday. Cousins Russel and Warren [Alden] ³ are with them and Alice’s lover too. She thinks it is terribly hard — poor girl — and grieves over it considerably. They are volunteers for six months.

Yes, Lot, with the facts as they are, a sad truth is better than uncertainty and suspense. Of course the misfortunes of any friends are a source of grief to me, but I will try and bear all as cheerfully as I can. Don’t get discouraged, Lot. The war will end sometime. It may be you nor I may not live to see the happy day of peace and prosperity to our beloved country, but if we do our duty as far as we know it, we can leave the result with a Higher power. God made all things for a good purpose and he rules them in a way mysterious to us. Often we think our lot is hard, but there is some bright spot — some blessing for which we may be thankful. This is the blessing of the Christian’s faith and philosophy & through sorrow we learn it soonest. But I’ll weary you. I’ll quit for this time hoping to hear from you soon, again in good health & spirits.

I remain as ever you faithful & true friend — Neal

¹ Neal’s uncle, Rufus Gustavus Alden, was married to Sophia Eliza Stacy (1834-1916). I assume this Stacy farm refers to Sophia’s father, John Stacy (1797-1876) who was living in 1863 with his second wife, Clarissa Phillips Frost (1806-1872).
² Confederate General John Hunt Morgan led a cavalry raid into Indiana and Ohio during the summer of 1863 designed to strike fear in the civilian population. The raiders entered Ohio on 13 July 1863. They crossed the Muskingum River just south of Zanesville. In Ohio alone, Morgan’s raiders stole 2,500 horses and robbed over 4,000 homes and businesses. They were finally captured in Columbiana County.
³ Warren Alden (b. 1847) was the Neal’s 16 year-old cousin — the son of Barnabas Gilbert Alden (1821-1904) and Betsey True.

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