Beery’s, August 6th 1865
My own dear Lot,
I’d like to spend a part of this beautiful Sabbath afternoon talking to you with my pen (though it’s a poor one) but I’ve only one idea in my head & fear I shall not prove very entertaining company. What that idea is you could easily guess if you knew the rumors & reports that have been reaching us every day for a week. Letters proclaim it, happy voices echo it, & happy hearts take it up in a song they have never learned to sing before — Our boys are coming home. I have tried not to put too much faith in what might prove an idle rumor, but spite of all my skepticism my heart joins in the happy chorus with a joy that is entirely new & yet I cannot realize that I have actually lived to see the entire overthrow of the Gigantic Rebellion, my country restored to peace & prosperity, & her noble defenders returning to the homes they have suffered everything to save to freedom.
Every day some bronzed or weather-beaten soldier is received into the loving embraces of his home circle & it won’t be many days till any soldier — him whom I claim above all others — is to receive some of the reward of his four years’ toil. Oh Lot, our hearts must be stout if they do not burst with the weight of happiness that is poured upon them. Yet you, dear Lot, have earned it all & more than the sincere devotion of our loving hearts can ever pay you in this world. May kind Heaven forget me when I forget to love & honor my own dear Lot.
I spent last week at Liberty. There’s a pleasant hope plainly visible on every countenance in that dear circle. Oh how fervently I pray that the bud be not blighted but very soon bloom into the flower of perfect joy. Can you imagine how they feel? Your mother & sisters & brother & all? I can sympathize with them perfectly for my heart throbs to the same sweet music — the song of hope. I told you I had but one idea & you see I’ve strung it out to almost the full size of a letter & yet I haven’t expressed one millionth part of what I feel. No pen can tell it all. A lifetime will be far too short for the story. This is to be my last letter; it ought to be a good one. Next time I talk to you ’twill be with my hand clasped fast in yours, my eyes drinking in the ravishing joy of your love. Oh, Lot, is it wrong to love you so? To be so happy?
But I must not write more. You’ll think me crazy now, I fear. No wonder if I am, & I’ll be more in the same condition when the 4th Cavalry actually comes.
I’m ever thy loving, — Neal
At Liberty, August 9th
I’ve had no opportunity to mail this & now I hesitate about sending it for the bright hope that prompted me to write it is taken away. The order for your muster out is countermanded in the papers & we know not what to think or believe. You can imagine some of the joy that is blighted & the dark cloud of sorrow that will follow, yet you have no power to avert it. ‘Tis terrible to try to be resigned to this & I shan’t be now sure.
Folks are all well & hard at work. We are having good weather just now as the men have a chance to get in some of the long delayed harvest.
Yours as ever, — S. C. A.