Washington County, Ohio
March 9th 1864
My good old friend,
I cannot withstand the temptation of talking to you a little while today. For nearly two weeks I have heard nothing from you. During that time, have not written. Under some circumstances, this would have appeared a very long time but as it was, I have been continually under some pleasant excitement, some little change, trifling in itself, but efficient to make the time pass almost unheeded. I was also aware of the movements of [Gen. William T.] Sherman and knew that it was more than likely that you would not have the opportunity even if you felt disposed to write, so did not allow myself to be uneasy although I have grown accustomed to expect one at least once a week.
I would like to tell you of all the agreeable things that have happened to me within the past fortnight that have tended to keep me in a good humor with myself & the rest of mankind! Not the least was that my “Soldier boys” of whom I have told you were so very fortunate as to get a furlough from Columbus for ten days after drawing their uniforms & bounty and were permitted to spend a part of the last week & particularly the last day in school. We were all much pleased with the arrangement and proceeded to enjoy it to the utmost. Their absence had spoiled anything like an examination or exhibition but the deficiency was made up by a grand public dinner donated by our friends who gave us the pleasure of their company also at the schoolhouse. I don’t think I spent a gayer day anyplace. I really like the people away up there in the dark hills very much and they appear to think a great deal of Neal. But last Friday morning I told them a final “Goodbye” representing myself as likely to start for the West in a few weeks and not within the bounds of any reasonable probability ever to visit Duck Creek again.
Isaac brought me home on horseback as the mud is too deep to admit of wheels. I met with quite a serious disappointment on the way. Called at the Treasurer’s office & found that the district for which I had been working [was] sadly behind in money matters. I can only draw about half of my pay this spring, the rest in September. This will interfere with my traveling calculations to some extent.
I am free again and don’t know what to do, nor who to take advice from. I can have profitable employment here & friends say, “Stay by all means. Stay till fall anyway” while the continual call from home is, “Come home, Neal, do come” and I suppose they would let me teach and pay me reasonably if I was there and minded. I don’t care much where I am, only I must work and would like to make it pay. I am made perfectly welcome as much at home as I could be in Iowa. What does Lot say? I expect it’s hardly worth while to ask your advice as I have done so several times and you are so far away & letters travel so slowly that it is all decided & I am settled to my work before your letter can reach me.
I am now at Uncle Moses True’s again. The boys are busy at the sugar camp and we are having a sweet time of it. Last spring I was in a sugar camp on Big Creek with Mag and John, Lydia, Dick, Becca, and the rest. I should like to be with them all again. I see from the papers that you (at least the 4th) have had some fighting to do ¹ already and am glad to hear of the movements but alas! at every fight someone must fall, but I will still hope & trust that those I love will be preserved. I hope you will write at every opportunity for I am always anxious when you are on the move.
I am truly your — Neal¹ Neal is probably referring to Sherman’s raid into Mississippi — sometimes called the Meridian Campaign — which consumed most of the month of February 1864. The 4th Iowa Cavalry participated. See Lot Abraham’s 1864 Diary.