Sunday, August 16th 1863
I sit down a few minutes before church to acknowledge the receipt of three letters from you dated respectively July 6th, 15th, & 27th. One scribble from me will have to do for all I guess this time for there was a great handful of others with them. I had been gone from home three weeks & had got behind. Arrived last night almost blind with headache but managed to read yours, [my sister] Lydia’s & [your sister] Mag’s. All pretty well at home except your sister Susan [Abraham] ¹ & my [cousin/step-] sister Mary [Rhodes]. They complain of not hearing from you. Don’t on any condition neglect to write home. They need your letters worse than any one else.
I am well again this morning & am very glad to know that you are not bad sick. Chills & fever are bad enough for a soldier though.
I have made a visit to the cities of McConnelsville & Zanesville and found a lot of new uncles, aunts, & cousins. Some of them I liked very much & some not so much, but on the whole enjoyed it first rate. ‘Twas a new experience for me among rich people in the city, but I guess I could appreciate their gay buggy rides, rich suppers, &c. as well as any of them. I almost got homesick though to get back to Salem & get letters from old friends. All the good new friends I find can not fill the place of the old & best loved.
Here comes Jane Lingo to go to church. [Cousin] Alice [Alden] has gone to Sunday School & I must go with her so ‘good morning.’
Afternoon. Well we went to church & listened to an excruciating try from our handsome young minister Mr. Allen. I believe I told you about him once, didn’t I? Oh! he’s so very nice. I wish you could see him. I know you would not wonder if I should forget all about my gigantic soldier down in Mississippi while listening to his nicely cut & dried complimentary speeches & watching the graceful motions of his soft white hand as it daintily smoothes his exquisite whiskers. You know what a partiality I have for these band boxy gentleman. I am afraid he will find a rival for the favors of the numerous Salem beauties now for one of the heroes of Gettysburg has just come home and will stay until his wound is healed & you have no idea how differently a soldier & a citizen are estimated by patriotic ladies. Well, I think I hear you say, “I’ve had enough of your nonsense.” What else will you have? I haven’t got a very good supply on hand today.
Would you like to hear about my two old maid cousins that I found up the river — or do you admire old maids? I’m sure I don’t — especially fussy ones that are always making tatting & talking about what their neighbors wear. So if you want to know about them, you’ll have to go & see for yourself.
But here comes Uncle Rufus & Philander — mighty good looking Uncles they are, or would be if they were not married & tied at home with families. They can talk though & I’ll have to go & talk to them.
Later. I don’t see as I’m going to get the chance to write more today if I don’t just run off & take it & ‘would be too bad if I didn’t have it done to send tomorrow for I haven’t sent one for all of three weeks. Now don’t you ever serve me that way or I’ll immediately get homesick, lonesome & have the blues awfully, cry my eyes all red & make myself look horrid.
I’m very sorry to hear of Lieut. Tucker’s death. ³ I had hoped to have had the privilege of seeing & becoming acquainted with one of whom you thought so highly. ‘Twill be a sad “soldier’s return” to his ladylove to see only the cold corpse come home. Oh Lot, ’tis awful to think of & yet ’tis happening everyday. Soldiers are returning to their friends in coffins or on crutches maimed for life. Oh! May God preserve my soldier!
We were much elated with good news for awhile & began to be very hopeful about the end that is to come. My faith & hope is still strong though we have had no news of much importance for some time now. The proverb says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” It is a wonder we are not all sick as the months lengthen out into years & still the war continues. But we can only wait & hope.
This is a poor excuse for a letter but you will excuse it for this time & ever remember your, — Neal¹ Susannah (“Susan”) Abraham (1831-1907) was Lot’s sister. ² Neal’s “Uncle Philander” was Philander Alden (1830-19xx), a younger brother of Rufus Alden. Philander was a son of Jonathan Alden (1785-1857) and Orpha Rice (1796-1865). Philander married Mary Elizabeth Gould in 1853. Philander’s twin was named Philetus Alden (1830-1906). ³ Lt. John T. Tucker (1836-1863) served in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry. He was wounded severely in the right thigh on 8 November 1862 at Marianna, Arkansas, but survived only to die of a “congestive chill” on 19 July 1863 at Milldale (near Vicksburg), Mississippi. [See Capt. Lot Abraham’s diary entry for 26 July 1863.] Lt. Tucker was from Washington County but living in Henry County, Iowa, when he enlisted. His parents were Thomas Francis Tucker (1813-1895) and Rozilla (Zylah) Harris (1815-1846). He was married to Matilda Shafer.