21 September 1863

Salem [Washington County, Ohio]
September 21st 1863

Capt. Lot Abraham
Dear Friend,

I will try to write a few lines to you this evening in return for your kind letter of the 6th, just received, though I fear it will be but little that I can write for I am at present afflicted with my eyes which you know often take a spell. I’ve taken cold in them. Hope they’ll be better soon for I want to use them this week.

We’ll all go to Marietta to a grand [John] Brough rally on Thursday & I want to have my likeness taken then to send to my California brother. ¹ I got a letter from him today containing five and a half sheets of paper well written. Also a “green back” requesting in return a shadow of my pretty? self & of course I can’t deny him, if he does show it to all his company.

I am prospering finely with my school. Had a good time today — that is, the little imps didn’t take a notion to cut up any extra dido’s and get me in a bad humor. This week will finish half my term & I haven’t had to whip anybody yet. Haven’t even had a stick in the house. Don’t you think I’d be a good hand to lecture against “capital punishment”? And you got spunky over the “commissioned private” did you? and “almost swore.” Why, have you got so good you never quite swear? I remember one time your telling me about saying some ugly words before little Al’ Heft after having just lectured him on the subject. I don’t blame you much for stirring in the matter. I think myself if I were going to have help I should want that that was some account. [Amon L.] Ogg ² is a pretty faithful officer, isn’t he. He used to be a pretty good student. Is that [Hugh M.] Pickel ³ the same that used to write so much for the [HomeJournal? Who do you expect to have for 2nd Lieut? & who will fill Ogg’s place?

I thank you very much for taking the time to write me another good letter. Your little penciled notes were very welcome indeed & need no apology. A soldiers business is duty first and pleasure afterward & you have been very punctual all summer in writing. A few kind words from you every week are a source of great pleasure to me & if I can do anything to relieve the tediousness of your life in camp by my scribbling I’m sure you are very welcome to all you get. ‘Tis a tedious way of talking but better than none. We’ll enjoy this and look forward to the “better time coming.”

From the present aspect of affairs I am in hopes it will not be very long until the sun of peace shall once more shed its beams on our loved country. Time is not slow or long with me though and I am glad to know that you have some enjoyment as it flies. I wish you could go home and see your mother. I know it would do her so much good to see you, but if you cannot go to stay, perhaps the sorrow of parting again would do her as much harm as the visit would do her good. While I have known of her being sick this summer and that her disease was thought dangerous, I have often thought of you and of the terrible grief it would be to you if when at last you return to your once happy home, you should find her seat vacant. But I pray God it may not be so. I hope after you have fulfilled your duty to your country you may have the privilege of spending many happy years in the old home with her & at last when her sands of life have run out, you may smooth her dying pillow & help to lay her to her quiet rest in the little grave yard by the side of your father.

It makes me feel bad to hear you say you can’t sing. What is the matter? You haven’t got the consumption have you? If appears to me as if I could hardly realize that it is the same Lot if I can’t hear you sing. But I suppose you will be changed in many ways; perhaps I won’t know you at all if we are ever so lucky as to meet again. I have written enough for tonight and must close. So “Good Night” from your faithful friend, — Neal

¹ This is probably a reference to Sam Rhodes, Neal’s cousin (and step-brother), who served in the California Battalion (Co. E) of the 2d Massachusetts Cavalry. See footnote in 3 June 1863 Letter.
² Amon Logsdon Ogg (1837-1923) was a 24 year-old Ohio native residing in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa when he enlisted as a private in Co. D of the 4th Iowa Cavalry in late 1861. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant on 1 July 1862 and was wounded on 8 November 1862 in action at Marianna, Arkansas. He was later promoted to 2d Lieutenant on 2 February 1864 and mustered out with his company on 8 August in Atlanta. He was married to Mary McCoy (1842-1918) in 1859. After the war, Ogg entered the insurance business in Indianola, Iowa. [Ogg’s wife, Mary McCoy, was probably a cousin of Lot Abraham as Lot’s mother was also a McCoy and from Guernsey, Ohio.]
³ Hugh Marion Pickel (1841-1921) was the son of Rufus and Emiline (Lotspeich) Pickel. He entered the service as a private in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry and emerged a 1st Lieutenant. After the war he resided in Des Moines, Iowa.

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