23 June 1864

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
June 23d 1864

Dear Lot,

I have got home at last and of course feel good over it, but best of all I found here a letter from you to tell me that you came out of that terrible fight. ¹ Oh! how uneasy I have been but ’tis no use talking. ‘Tis the same old story told every day by every heart that has its dearest in the army & I’ll not write it over now at least. Don’t know what I may be tempted to do some other time for sometimes it seems I cannot help telling you what I think & feel & no doubt tire you with it, but I’ll not trespass that way this time for I’ve enough to talk of what I have done.

I believe I wrote you once from Zanesville [Ohio]. [Cousin] Alice came up & we passed the time very agreeably, seeing all that was worth visiting in that vicinity & forming some pleasant acquaintances. We left there on Tuesday morning so as to allow ourselves plenty of time to spend a week at our Uncle’s in Indiana ² and get home before the 4th, but we were foolish enough to buy through tickets to Burlington relying on the agent’s word that we could get a layover ticket at Andersontown for as long as we desired to stop, but found we were misinformed as the conductor refused to allow us permission to stop more than two days. That would have been time enough to go down to his house & right back & would all have been in the night, so we concluded to give up the idea of visiting them until some future time & come on home without delay. But we found on arriving at Chicago that our conclusions were of little value when we happened to get in a few minutes after the train which should have brought us on had left. I thought of your having been left in a similar situation, if possible under more aggravating circumstances, only a few months before but that afforded little subject of satisfaction except that it was something to think about.

Neal and her cousin Alice Alden spent an entire day at the Chicago Railway Station

Neal and her cousin Alice Alden spent an entire day at the Chicago Railway Station

Alice was entirely done out with our nights & sick, & I had no more ambition than would serve to move me at a very slow pace so we spent the day — the longest day I ever spent — in the depot with plenty of others in the same deplorable condition. If you had only happened to have been left there on the same day, I think I at least could have spent the day pleasantly enough for no doubt there are entertaining and instructive things enough in so large a city that one might spend a day profitably, but it would not have been prudent for ladies to venture far from known regions without a gentleman escort so we did not go out — only onto the pier to get a view of the great blue lake & see a sail ship which was new to us.

We had a nice ride last night as it was comfortably cool & we were not annoyed with the dust as we had been & I had got so accustomed to the noise that I could sleep some. And best of all, the trains did not miss connection this morning & we got into Mt. Pleasant in good time. It seems curious to walk through the streets of a city & see familiar faces once more. I had intended to give my friends here a surprise by coming upon them unawares but it appears that my secret leaked out through the 4th Cavalry letters, Jennie Andrews, &c. &c. So much so that Maggie was here to see me more than a week ago.

‘Tis getting dark & I’ll have to quit. Have been writing in the front yard answering questions & letters, yarns of Duck Creek &c, all the time.

Wishing you success. I remain as ever, — Neal

¹ Neal’s comment lacks specificity but she is probably referring to the engagement at Guntown in which the 4th Iowa Cavalry participated. Lot mentions in his diary that he wrote letters upon the unit’s return to Memphis on 14 June 1864.
² Though Neal does not mention her uncle’s name, he may have been Paschal Alden (1810-1873) who is known to have moved to Noblesville, Indiana. The Anderson depot would have been within 15 miles from to Paschal’s home. Paschal was Zephaniah’s older brother. 

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