4 July 1863

Salem [Washington County] Ohio
Saturday, July 4th 1863

Cap’ Abraham,
Good morning friend,

A merry Fourth to you. I must greet a few of my absent friends this morning before I proceed to the enjoyment of the pleasures of the day which will be nothing extra, I guess, as we had a heavy rain last night and ’tis muddy and cloudy this morning. I have the [Home] ‘Journal‘ and a letter from [your sister] Mag’ this week telling of the prospects of 4th in Iowa. [My sister] Lydia and Mag will be together & I find myself almost wishing that I could be with them just for today, but it would be lonesome then unless you could be there too. So ’tis best as it is. They are to organize the militia here, & there will be two big balls close. If you were here you might enjoy the dance, but you know that had no very great attraction for me. (Or have you forgotten how to dance as well as sing & whistle?) We will also have a speech, I suppose, but I’ll tell you about after it is over. There’ll be plenty of time between this and Tuesday next which is mail day.

Sunday afternoon

Well the illustrious 4th with all its attendant evils and pleasures is past; Also Sabbath school and meeting today and we have had dinner and eaten cherries and now I’m ready to tell you what we did yesterday. After the preparatory arrangements were completed,  [cousin] Alice,¹ me & Uncle Gilbert went downtown expecting to hear the speech but alas! the speaker didn’t come and we were obliged to content ourselves with private lectures. I didn’t care for that though for there were plenty of my friends present at every corner and I put in the time well till noon when we came home & partook of the sumptuous dinner which good Aunt Betsy had prepared. It consisted of ——  but ’tis too tedious to mention. Just imagine all the good things you can’t think of and then think we had them.

In the P. M., we went to the grove to hear some of the citizens talk, but the election of Militia officers was not through. Politics ran high & so we had to wait. Directly some of our gentlemen friends came along and stopped for a chat. Among them Mr. Allen, our young preacher. He asked me if I was going to the dance. I told him I was slighted [and] had no invitation. He asked me if I would go with him. I said yes of course & off we started. Went off on a long walk & came back to find the dancers all gone and the talking almost done. And poor Cousin Alice feeling very badly because her Captain had left her to take another lady to the ball. (She’s like me and don’t dance.) So to rouse her spirits we got Coz. Hiram [True] to get out our horses & we three escorted the minister a mile or so on his road to his sunday appointment, then came around by Mr. Hills where we stopped just in time to avoid a tremendous thunder shower. I believe I told you about going there  and hearing music once before.

The time passed very pleasantly until the rain was over. Then we came home, got our suppers, and in the evening I went with Uncle Gilbert to witness the installation of officers at the Odd Fellows Hall. ‘Twasn’t  very amusing, but put me in mind of a certain Lodge that met at Frank Brittons’ once upon a time and that did to laugh at. And thus ended the 4th of July. I enjoyed it some like you did last year. ‘Twas very well contented because I couldn’t help myself.

I’ll warrant you had a lively time for I just had my mind made up that you were going to blow up Vicksburg on that day and make it doubly glorious. I’m getting almost tired of this war. Wish it was properly ended and you poor fellows were all at home. I haven’t a letter from you for near two weeks. If I don’t get one tomorrow, I’ll — I’ll — I don’t  know what I’ll do unless I send you this mess of scribbling and Jack Brough’s speech. I must write some to the rest of the folks now so “Good Evening.”

Monday eve. The Mail is in & brought me one letter and that from [my step-brother] Newt’s wife [Percilla] , so I’m disappointed — also very tired and almost crazy with the headache. I am as ever your, — Neal

¹ Alice Alden (1845-18xx) was Neal’s cousin — the daughter of Barnabas Gilbert Alden (1821-1904) and Betsey True (b. 1824) of Salem, Washington County, Ohio.

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