26 July 1863

Stacy Farm ¹
Sunday, July 26th 1863

Friend Lot,

This is a cloudy Sunday — rather too dark looking to think of going to church, which is about two miles away across the river. We might go in a boat which would be very fine but ‘twould not be much fun to get caught in a heavy shower and have all the starch taken out of ones fixings. So I guess we had better stay at home and I’ll scribble some to my soldier friend away down at Jackson. I can very easily keep the run of Sherman’s Div. now, and suppose you are with them. I hope they will keep you moving fast enough to get you away from that ague. ‘Tis really too bad for a great big man like you to have to shake.

By the way we have been having war round us here for the last two weeks. Morgan ² has been almost round us once, but he can’t do it again. This raid has ruined his force — has only five hundred of his five thousand left and they are slipping round trying to get away but ’tis very doubtful whether they will succeed or not. This has kept me in the valley longer than I intended to stay, but the boats have been so full of soldiers that I could not go up the river. I sent to Salem yesterday and got my mail. It consisted of six letters and a Home Journal. Yours of the 4th was one of them. One from Lydia also telling of their 4th [of July celebration]. John took her over and she spent the time with the Liberty folks. They went to a dance too. I’ll have to write her a lecture for that, and I don’t know but I ought to give John one too for leading my sister astray?? But then young folks will be foolish sometimes! She says your mother worries as much about you as ever. Oh! how I wish this war was ended so that you might be at home with her. I feel greatly in hopes that it will be done before many months.

Our armies are being very successful lately. Them Eastern troops have done something but not what we expected of them. Grant and Rosecrans will have to come in on the rear and take Lee yet before it will be done I expect. The Home Journal thinks if the backbone of secession was not broken, it was badly bent on the 4th. I think so too. I fully expect to see the soldiers at home before I leave Ohio which will not be until next spring. I have about concluded to stay in Salem, Ohio this winter and teach the young Salemites. That won’t be the highth of pleasure, but will be better than to teach any place in Henry Co., Iowa. I said I shall not go home till spring. I really don’t know as I shall ever go. I certainly shall not, to teach. I’ll learn a trade, work for my living and be independent. Am about tired of being a public slave.

I have been having some pleasant times since I wrote you last. Been out calling with Aunt Sophia and got acquainted with some of the young ladies of Rainbow. Find them very intelligent and agreeable. We went up the river about five miles in a boat one day to Aunt Sophia’s father’s. He is a wealthy old farmer, has everything plenty — berries, fruit, etc. etc, as do all the people along the river here. We had a nice time. Came home by moonlight. I guess I’ve got the lesson pretty well learned which you tried to teach me last winter — about being contented and taking things as they come. At least I haven’t got a bit homesick yet. I almost begin to think you were mistaken when you said it certainly will come sooner or later. I have often wished I could see Lydia or Mag just to talk with them a little while but not bad enough to cry about it or think of going anytime soon. I know I am much happier here than I would be there.

— 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.

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