Mount Pleasant [Iowa]
June 25th 1864
My best friend,
I wrote to you yesterday of our safe arrival in “The West — our own dear native land” & now I am going to write some more because I love to talk to you better than anything else that I can do at present. I got your letter of the 17th this morning. ¹ I had just stopped on the street a minute to shake hands with [your brother] John & [brother-in-law] Dick [Jackman]. [Your sister] Mag was in this morning with Hartman but started home before I met John. That’s too bad for now I’ll not see her for some time as I’ll go to see mother this afternoon if we can get off. The boys were in after a reaper. Dick says [your sister] Becca is unusually well this summer. I can’t hardly wait to see them, but must see mother and [my sister] Lydia first.
Was at Pixley’s and Frick’s last night. They all let on to be very glad to see Neal. Recon they are. I’m sure I’m glad to see them. One great theme of conversation is why I didn’t come home with you last spring. I let them give their own reasons. Yesterday’s mail brought us a big package from [Lower] Salem, [Ohio], forwarded by Aunt Betsey [Alden], containing divers letters from cousins and among the rest a long flattering letter from Leander — the first for eight months. ² He has an idea that Miss Alden is one of the best and most patriotic girls in the country. He does not know how my patriotism falters and almost dies out when I know that my Lot is exposed to the terrible chances of such a fight as yours was.
We all feel that our country and cause is worth preserving with the blood of some of her noble sons, but every trembling heart at home prays Oh! God let it not be our friends. So selfish are we, but such fights as yours with Forrest ought never to be. It seems to me that there should have been troops enough to accomplish your object if there had been proper management. But I am thankful to that kind Providence that so mercifully and almost miraculously saved you on that awful day. The 4th Cavalry was spared and many anxious friends in Henry County offer up fervent thanksgiving. ‘Tis a cause of sorrow that you were defeated, but do not let it trouble you too much. You have not to reflect upon yourselves on account of duties undischarged. All you can do is to discharge your duty and have the result in the hands of the God who watches over the interests of all holy and righteous causes. This war must and will end and I hope before very long. I think our prospects are pretty good. Grant is doing very well and I feel quite cheerfully in hopes of peace again. But it cannot come too soon to suit me, for it does not seem that I am really living — only waiting and waiting. And so it will be until you are at home again. I think I can understand how you felt when you saw your brave boys turn before the villainous rebels. You would have given your life at the instant to retrieve their fortune, but I thank God you did not have the opportunity of doing so, for how could I live without the prospect of meeting you again in this world. For my sake, Lot, you will value your life won’t you.
Uncle Asa Thompson ³ has just come in with the wagon and invited us to go to Canaan with him. As there is no opportunity to go to Tippecanoe [to visit my mother] today, we will go and come back tomorrow. Hoping this will find you well & in recovered spirits. I remain your ever faithful, — Neal¹ Lot’s diary corroborates Neal’s claim that he wrote her on June 17th. Lot wrote the letter from Memphis where access to good mail service enabled the letter to reach Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in only a week. ² Neal is probably referring to her friend, Henry Leander Abbey (1835-1874). He was the son of John Billings Abbey (1805-1876) and Abigail Harriet Kingsbury (1804-1844) of Baltimore, Henry County, Iowa. Leander married Margaret E. Wilson (1840-1908) in December 1864. ³ Neal’s uncle, Asa Thompson (1829-1895), was 20 years younger than her mother. He was married to Emma Ables (1828-1910) at Mt. Pleasant in 1850. By 1864 when this letter was written, they had four children: Augustus (b. 1851), Katie (b. 1853), Thomas Edward (b. 1860), and John A. (b. 1862). We learn from this letter the Thompson family resided in Canaan, Henry County, Iowa, though they later moved to Kansas.