Pidgeon’s [near Salem, Iowa]
Friday June 16th ’65
My own dear friend,
Oh how much I want to talk to you and ’tis so tedious talking with the pen. I fear I’m inclined to murmer at fate this morning though. I’ve just read your letter of May 29th which I”ve looked for so anxiously for two weeks. No — the word that you can’t come home yet was not news to me. I’ve known that for a month, even since the official report of Kirby Smith’s surrender and suppose it is very necessary that some soldiers should remain to keep Rebs in due subjection until civil society is reorganized. But I cannot quite make up my mind that it should be our soldiers. ‘Tis hard work to be contented under the circumstances, but I don’t want to be selfish. Other people love their friends as well as I do mine doubtless.
It distresses me beyond words to hear you speak so discouragingly of [Jacob] Hart’s situation. Why should he who has served his country so faithfully die in hospital after the war is over? Isn’t he able to be sent home? ‘Twould be much better to have him here, but I can’t bear the idea of his dying now, when he could just begin to live. I should fear for his happiness with Jennie though. I can’t imagine true love and perfect confidence after a quarrel, can you? I should love to express my sympathy for him in some way but don’t know how to go about it. If he’s as bad as you say ’tis poor comfort any of us can give him. But there is a comforter, that God if he only looks to the right source.
About your following the General’s advice coming home on leave of absence, I don’t know what to say. You know ‘twould be my greatest happiness to have you here even for a short time. The going back again would be the trouble. You must do as you think best. It seems to me I could not stand it to have you go to Texas. The very idea makes a coward of me. But we will hope that trial won’t come. I would beg you to resign and leave the service entirely only for your company, and if they were not your neighbors and friends who had trusted you ‘twould not be so bad.
For the past week I have been terribly blue, hope deferred so long makes my heart faint, and I’ve been haunted with the idea that the happy time we have looked forward to so long is never to come. But I’ll try to hope on a little longer.
I don’t like that woman who talked to you in the cars. She has never loved or has mislearned that sweet lesson. ‘Twas too bad for you to advise so heartless a woman to curse a yankee soldier with her companionship for life.
I am still teaching the young quakers but not teaching Friend Cyrus [Garretson] to love. He has been in New York for nearly two months. I recieved a little letter from him two weeks ago. The first offence of the kind he ever committed. ‘Tis not answered yet and don’t know as it ever will be. I should consider myself committing an unpardonable sin if I even encouraged him to think more of me than of any other friend, and as to a dozen sweethearts any girl on this Prairie thinks herself well off if she can get one — even those girls who are known to be in the market. An old plain one like myself who has the reputation of being engaged and to be married the 4th of July as I’ve heard 20 times this summer, stands a poor chance but that don’t worry me any. This is perhaps the last letter you’ll ever get from this Prairie as one week from today finishes my probation here, and I have positively refused to take this school for the fall and winter. I’ve nothing to complain of the school — all goes on smoothly there — but if I teach, I’m determined it shall be someplace else. ‘Tis school time and I must say good morning.
Ever remaining truly your — Neal