Pidgeon’s, near Salem [Iowa]
Wednesday Evening, 12 April 1865
Here I am past the middle of the second week of school and no news from the Great Cavalry Expedition yet. Everything else almost wears the most cheerful aspect. News from the eastern armies is perfectly glorious. Richmond and all the Rebel strongholds in Virginia in possession of the Union troops, Lee’s army captured, scattered, annihilated, Greenbacks almost as good as gold, and a consequent fall of prices generally. That helps to put the people in a good humor.
Winter at last is over though he has lingered with us long. The grass begins to peep timidly forth and the buds to open to the air. Amid all this gladness, why should I not be glad too? I am to a certain extent. I rejoice over the brightening prospects of my country Oh! so much, and in some degree am cheered by the awakening in nature.
My school is very good so far. Not too large and yet interesting. Serves to occupy my mind and I have the satisfaction of trying to do something useful. Long and cheerful letters from the girls telling of their happiness in being at home and that is a source of pleasure to me. How many things I have to be thankful for and I am thankful too, but all the time I crave a little more. What I want most no one knows better than yourself. I have made a resolution to look on the bright side of everything this summer. To think God knows best and to submit to all cheerfully. I don’t know that I shall be able to keep my resolution if I can’t hear from you soon. I’ll try though to trust you in this case who has kept you safely thus far.
The girls have imagined such a horrible picture of my loneliness away off here among the Quakers that they’ve moved the rest to pity and this week I received the kindest letter from Uncle Gilbert [Alden], urging me for their sakes to accept a home with them [in Ohio], to give up teaching, and be a member of that dear, loving family circle — even offering to bear my expenses to them if I would only come. That makes my heart & eyes run over with gratitude every time I think of it. Oh! what a temptation it is. A home with kind and loving friends would be the nearest thing to heaven on earth, and yet I can only thank them for if I had no other reasons my pride and self dependence would hardly allow me to accept the offer. I’m so glad [my sister] Lydia is there though. She will have a home, which she has not had here for years. Had letter from Bro. John too. He’s still in Galesburg and doing well.
I have come upstairs to my quiet room after taking a hearty supper of bread & milk (my choice for this evening), feeling that the rest and quiet just suit me. I find on my table this unfilled sheet. I thought sure I would get news today and then I’d know where to send it. But it hasn’t come yet. Well, I must have patience.
I don’t know of anything I can write that would interest you, so I’ll quit for the present hoping that wherever this reaches you it may find you well and happy in success & bright prospects ahead & made still happier by knowing that I ever remain your own true and loving, — Neal